A freelance writer living in Perth, and always on the search for something new, different and exciting.
Published June 30th 2011
Don't worry, I'm not going to suggest fashioning a cute little helmet with ear holes out of alfoil.
Instead, I'm going to give you a basic rundown of how to recognise your cats mood - whether it's a good time to pick them up for a cuddle, or time to drop the can of tuna and run.
Did you know cats have at least 19 different types of 'meow'? Depending on their mood, a cat's meow can differ in pitch, tone, rhythm and volume. This can also differ according to the breed. Basically, we can break it down into 6 mood categories:
"Me me me me" - When your cat wants you to pay attention they'll usually give a light-hearted, repetitive or extended meow, sometimes followed with purring. I notice this type of meow when the food bowl is empty and it's dinnertime. A friend of mine calls it 'reporting a hungry.'
"I'm not happy. Go away" - Snarling, growling, howling - you're in trouble. Something has upset this cute little bundle of fur and they're now in the early stages of attack mode. This is the point in time where long sleeves are a good idea.
"What's this dog doing in my house?" - When a cat is scared it will make a noise like a yowl. If it's really scared, they may even hiss and spit. When provoked, this usually leads to attack mode, so here's some free advice - don't provoke.
"Hey human, come with me" - When you haven't been past the food bowl in a while, a cat may ask you to 'follow' by making a soft chirruping noise. This is the same noise mother cats use to tell her kittens to tag along.
"Love me" - The purr. It's an irresistible lure cast out by contended kitties, that often leads to cuddles and pats and helps you forget about the claw marks on the couch.
"Come closer, so I can KILL you" - Have you ever seen your kitty in hunt mode? You may have seen them making a 'clicking' type noise after they spot something - like a bird. Be warned birdies, this is a TRAP. If the fur and teeth didn't give it away, the stealth-like stance probably will.
TAIL A cats tail isn't just good for balance, or tripping over down the hallway. It can also indicate your felines mood. There are main 8 tell-tails:
1. "I has a happy" - The tail is curved down, while the tip is curved slightly up.
2. "What's that?" - When your kitty is curious, the tail will be slightly raised.
3. "Howdy" - If the tail is fully erect, they're happy to see you.
4. "Your the boss" - When the tail is tucked between the legs, your kitty is showing submissiveness or defeat. (Could also indicate illness)
5. "Oh oooo" - If the tail is arched down and fluffed out, your kitty is scared.
6. "Don't test me" - I'm sure you've seen it - unlike a dog, when your cat swishes his tail from side to side that means they're angry. If the tip starts to twitch, I'd suggest backing off before the claws come out.
7. "You is MY human" - When the tail is held up, bushy and quivering, your cat is saying he owns, er, loves you. You my see them doing this while you have a can of food in your hand.
8. "I is big and mean" - The tail held dead straight and bristled means they are ready for attack. This is one way of making themselves look bigger if another cat is in their territory.
BODY LANGUAGE Let's play or kill?
Hold up a piece of string, and I bet 9 times out of 10, you'll see your cats pupils dilate immediately. This means they're playful and excited, or ready to kill (good luck finding out which). The ears can also say a lot about their mood. When they're held back it either means they're in the mood to play, or they're scared and angry.
It must be love.
When your cat blinks slowly and look at you with an almost drowsy expression, this means they're happy and content. This is the perfect time to sneak in a quick snuggle. If your kitty head-butts you or touches you with their wet nose, this is their version of a kiss. If they lick you, consider yourself very lucky - this means you're part of the family, or you didn't wash your hands properly after cutting up that steak. And while it may be painful and annoying, when your cat 'kneads' you with their claws it is also a sign of love and affection.
The low down of the rub down.
When your cat rubs their body against you, you may be surprised to know that they are actually marking you as their own. On the other hand, when they rub their head or tail against you, this is their way of saying hello.
Now you have the basics under your belt, why not learn more about feline interaction and the best ways to Communicate With Your Cat. If you don't happen to own a cat yet, but are considering adopting, it may be a good idea to read my other article on how to Adopt a Cat first. Finally, owning a cat is a truly awesome experience - and once you know what they're thinking it will make your relationship even more special. Give it a go today.