What Do Cats Think About Us You May Be Surprised
Unlike dogs, our feline friends treat us like other cats, author says.
Since cats first got their adorable claws into us about 9,500 years ago, humans have had a love affair with felines.
Today more than 80 million cats reside in U.S. homes, with an estimated three cats for every dog on the planet. Yet there’s still a lot we don’t know about our feline friendsincluding what they think of their owners.
John Bradshaw is a cat-behavior expert at the University of Bristol and the author of the new book Cat Sense. After observing pet cats for several years, he’s come to an intriguing conclusion: They don’t really understand us the way dogs do.
Bradshaw recently shared some of his insights with National Geographic.
How did you get into cat behavior?
For the first 20 years of my career I studied olfactory behavior in invertebrates. I’ve always been fascinated by this other world that animals live inprimarily of odor, which is dogs’ primary sense. So in the early 1980s I started working on dog behavior. I very quickly became fascinated with cats, and what their idea of the world is compared to the one we have.
What do you do in your research?
A lot of observationwatching groups of cats to see how they interact with one another and deducing their social structure. cats in colonies that are free-ranging, and in animal shelters where quite a number will be housed togetheryou get interesting dynamics .
Why did you conclude that cats don’t “get us” the way dogs do?
Cat Language: How Cats Communicate
Your furry friend, like all animals, has her unique way of communicating, her own cat language, but cracking the code of these interactions can be tricky for human family members. So, how do cats communicate?
If your cat is trying to get your attention, she’ll often meow, or she’ll employ non-verbal communication, such as silently staring at you, pawing at your leg, knocking your coffee cup off the kitchen table or scratching the couch, but this only scratches the surface of how cats communicate.
What Makes Cats Mad
The number one problem between people and cats? We dont consider their boundaries, Radosta says. We just love these little creatures so much that we dont always respect their personal space. We treat them like stuffed animals or rag dolls that we can just grab whenever we want.
Not the most forgiving animals, cats can become resentful of being handled when theyd rather be left alone. Eventually, a cat starts to avoid you altogether by hiding under the bed or going to the top of her cat tree.
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Finally Find A Cat That Fits Your Lifestyle
All cats have different personalities. Sometimes, it’s possible to ad0pt a kitten or cat with a certain kind of personality. Nold says humane societies and rescue centers work with cat behaviorists to evaluate cats’ personalities. “Share what you’re looking for the center you’re adopting the cat from, ” Nold says.
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Why Do Humans Like Speaking To Dogs And Cats
While talking to animals may seem like a frivolous topic of research, linguists would disagree. There is even a specific term for talking to pets: pet-directed speech. This term broadly refers to anything humans say to a dog, but its not entirely random.
Researchers have found that pet-directed speech is similar to another kind of communication humans often use: infant-directed speech, which is often called baby talk or motherese. The primary traits of baby talk are a slow tempo and a higher pitch. Baby talk has been found in many different languages, andstudies suggest a correlation between using baby talk and a childs language acquisition. The idea is that slowing down and exaggerating speech makes it slightly easier for babies to understand the language.
Its worth mentioning that the benefits of baby talk are somewhat controversial, however. Some cultures dont use baby talk at all, and the studies that do show the benefits of baby talk are limited in scope. Still, baby talk is a widespread phenomenon, meaning there could be some ingrained reasoning behind it.
Another factor that comes into play is the gender of the person doing the pet-directed speech. Women are far more likely to talk to their pets than men. And when men do talk to their pets, theyre not as likely to use a weird pet-directed speech voice.
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Tips On How To Speak Cat
Here are some helpful tips on how to speak cat:
- If you say down or no using the same tone when you say good kitty heres your treat it may confuse your cat and she may misinterpret what you are saying.
- To correct your cat if she is misbehaving, speak in a loud, firm and authoritative voice and use this same tone along with body language such as making a stern face and using one of your hands to point down when you are ordering your cat with the word down.
- Use a high-pitched happy voice if you are praising or calling your cat to dinner or if you are offering treats and accompany that with a smile and hand gesture.
- Firmly say no and gently push your cat away without showing attention if she is begging for attention or trying to distract you while you are accomplishing tasks or working on your computer.
Cats Are Loyal And Form Strong Attachments To Us
People think of dogs as loyal and cats as aloof. Cats have boundaries that are less forgiving than dogs. Nonetheless, cats can be fiercely loyal and form strong bonds with their humans. Some so strong that cats have traveled hundreds or thousands of miles through places theyve never been to find their owners.
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Talking Out Loud Is Good For Your Mental Health
Your cat cant hold up their side of the conversation, but cats are great listeners. When you talk to your cat, treat them like any other good friend or family member. Your cat honestly doesnt care what you have to say. Theres absolutely no judgement or worry. Youre free to rant about whatever you want, and that kind of catharsis can be great for your mental health.
Talking to your cat can also relieve feelings of loneliness and depression. You have a friend that loves you unconditionally even when you confess your most embarrassing secrets. When you talk to your cat, you have a supportive best friend and a trustworthy confidant all rolled into one adorable package.
Did you learn anything new and interesting about our feline friends? Share this article with other cat lovers you know so that they can learn something, too.
She Gives You Love Bites
Some cats express their affection through love bites. You can tell the difference between a love bite and an aggressive bite by how hard she bites you. If it hurts, you better watch out. A light, playful bite that merely tickles is one way your cat lets you know she loves you.
If your cat likes to nibble on your toes or arm, she wants to play with you. You are likely one of her favorite humans!
Look at the widdle fuzzy tummy! You know you want to pet it! Oh, no! It was a trap!
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Talking To Your Cat Will Strengthen Your Bond
Dr. Danielle Forshee, a doctor of psychology, talked to Elite Daily about how you can talk to your cat and strengthen your bond. While human relationships are based on a give and take of emotions, the same is true for the relationship you share with your cat. If you want your cat to love you as much as you love them, you need to give love as much as you take. You can do that through pets and playtime, but talking during calm moments is a great way to strengthen an ongoing bond.
Cats are surprisingly perceptive, and the more you talk, the better your cat will understand you. They will learn to recognize your moods, and that will bring you closer together.
Cat Talk: 10 Reasons Cats Meow
According to Arden Moore, author of The Cat Behavior Answer Book, cats are capable of making at least 30 sounds, including at least 19 variations on the simple meow.
So why do cats meow? Check out ten possible translations for cat talk and feline language:
10) Im hurt If your cat suddenly begins to meow excessively, take him to be evaluated by a veterinarian immediately. Your cats meows may indicate that there is something medically wrong, especially if the behavior isnt typical. Numerous diseases can cause a cat to feel hunger, thirst, or pain, all of which can lead to excessive meowing, advises Web MD.
9) Im just saying hi Often a cat meows to his human when you come home, says the ASPCA website, or even to greet you when you see each other in the house.
8) I want food The Im hungry meow is likely one all cat parents know well. Lots of cats know just how to tell their families that its time for dinner, says pet blogger, Jane Harrell. My cat Mojo would run around after me, meowing the whole time if she thought dinner was going to be late.
7) Pay attention to me Sometimes cats talk simply because they want your attention and they learn that meowing gets them just that. Cats often meow to initiate play, petting or to get you to talk to them, explains Web MD.
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Let Them Sniff & Lick You
Cats dont just leave their own scent behind. They also take in scents from the environment and other creatures, and that includes you! By letting your cat sniff you, youre saying lets get to know each other.
Licks are similarcats can get a lot of information through taste. Plus, licking is a sign of affection. You can encourage bonding by giving your cat a blanket or worn t-shirt with your scent on it. For some cats, nothing says I love you like dirty laundry.
Scent is also a good way to greet a new cat whose love you hope to win. Before going in for a pet, offer them something with your scent on it and give them plenty of time to check it out. A hat or shoe is a great option. Once theyve sniffed it up, then offer your hand for them to smell. If theyre ready for pets, theyll let you know by rubbing their face on your hand.
She Always Just Happens To Be In The Same Room As You
Perhaps your feline friend doesnt enjoy cuddling with you on the couch as much as a dog might. Maybe they dont seem as excited about belly rubs and head pats as you would like. Cats can be particular about the amount of physical affection they can tolerate, but you have likely noticed that your cat frequently just happens to be hanging out in the same room you are in, watching you from afar. If you get up to go to a different room, dont be surprised if your kitty friend is close behind.
Cats tend to prefer to be near their favorite people. Cats might be independent creatures by nature, but they still want to spend time with you. If your cat loves you, she will love being near you, even if she doesnt want you to be too close all the time.
Cats slow blink to tell you they love you.
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Cats Communicate With Their Eyes
- If the eyes are wide: The cat is alert. Other cues will tell you if the cat is relaxed or threatened.
- If the eyes are narrowed: The cat is alert, but may be fearful or aggressive. Look for other cues.
- If the eyes are lazily open or closed: The cat is relaxed.
- Pupil dilation is also important: Wide pupils can signal high interest, excitement, or possibly fear or aggression.
Cat Language : How Do Cats Talk To Each Other
Do cats talk to each other? Felines communicate with their peers through vocalizations, physical contact, visual cues and chemical cues. When communicating, cats exhibit subtle signaling compared to dogs due to their smaller features and quicker movements. If you blink your eye, you may have missed a crucial message from your cat.
If you want to know how cats communicate with each other, you must learn to read your cats body language.
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Tip #: Scratch The Right Spots
When a cat welcomes attention, stick to petting where its most likely to make a kitty feel good. The best area to pet is from the top of the head to the shoulders, where kitties normally groom each other. Some cats also like to be petted on the back. But if you see the cats tail start to thrash, its a warning that the cat is tolerating it, but not loving it, Radosta explains. And dont even think about belly rubsvery few cats like to be touched there.
With a little practice, youll have no problem picking up kitty cues. Your patience and loving respect of cat boundaries is sure to earn you a kittys seal of approval.
It Shows Your Cat Theyre An Important Part Of Your Life
Most cats dont crave human attention as much as dogs do, but they still enjoy spending time with their favorite humans. And if you work during the day or spend long hours away from home, you better believe your cat misses you. They need to feel like theyre an important part of your life.
When you talk to your cat on a regular basis, it lets them know you think about them and care about them. Your feline is a major part of your family, and theyre not ignored or overlooked. When your cat feels like part of the family, theyre more likely to interact with confidence.
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Tip #: Respect A Cats Space
When you move toward a cat, it can come off as threatening. Thats why cats often gravitate toward the people who most want to avoid them . If you want to earn a cats affection, wait for her to come to you rather than reaching out and petting or picking her up.
Your Cat Is Trying To Talk To You
Dogs we get, mostly because they are so easy to get. They have expressive faces and body language that we can read pretty accurately, according to researchers who study animal behavior. Cats, on the other hand, are known for their emotional opaqueness and standoffishness even the cat-ladiest of cat ladies might think that their pets dont seem altogether interested in communicating with them, as long as the food arrives on time.
But thats probably not entirely accurate, say the researchers who study cat-human communication and, yes, this is a realfield of scientific study, albeit a small one. Deciphering meaning in the behaviors of pets meaning that went much beyond feed me now, anyway was once dismissed as mere anthropomorphism, but thats no longer the consensus among this community of researchers.
Rather, theres a growing belief that cats are as expressive as dogs, argues Sharon Crowell-Davis, a professor of veterinary behavior at the University of Georgia, who recently gave a presentation on the subject at a conference for cat behaviorists in Atlanta. Its just that we misunderstand or dont see what theyre trying to communicate.
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Go For The Slow Blink
In cat language, a hard, direct stare is seen as a threat. On the other hand, a soft gaze and slow blink signal relaxation and safety. You can say I love you to your cat by looking at them with relaxed eyes and slowly lowering your eyelids. Your cat may offer a slow blink in return, letting you know they love you, too!
Offer The Cat Nose Hand
Cats often greet each other by touching noses. You can replicate this by sitting down or crouching, curling your index finger into a shape sort of like a cat nose, and slowly extending your arm. By doing this, youre giving a cat a chance to greet you in a way that makes sense in cat language. Be sure you extend your hand slowly and come from in front of him or just to the side rather than from above.
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Cat Language: Physical Cues
Pay special attention to the eyes, ears, tail and overall body posture. A cat that is feeling friendly and confident will hold his tail high in the air, his ears will be turned forward and his body will be tall.
If your cat is approaching another cat that she likes, the tip of the tail may be crooked forward. If your cat is feeling comfortable with the other cats presence, she may roll over enough to show her belly. This means she feels comfortable enough to show the other cat the most vulnerable part of her body. If your cat is uncertain or uncomfortable, she may crouch down, tuck her tail in along her body, and take a second to observe the cat.
Eye contact is another way cats communicate with each other. If your cat looks at another cat and blinks, she is telling them through cat body language that she is receptive to their approach and attention.
While interacting with another cat, if your cat looks away, licks her lips, crouches down, and pulls her ears to the side or flattens them on her head, this is an indication that your cat is feeling threatened and fearful.