Cat Com-mew-nication

Did you know that it is rare for cats to meow to each other to communicate? 

Depending on the breed, most adult cats do not meow; rather, they understand each other through body language and smell. Meowing is often something that cats learn when humans respond positively to the sound, by giving food or attention.

As such, the best way to understand a cat is to study the way it behaves. Here are seven cat behaviours that you may find strange, but are “purr”-fectly normal by cat standards. 
 
1. Chattering
You hear sounds that are almost like bird chirping or twittering from your cat. Well, it is chattering! 

This is usually a sign that the animal is tensed and fixated on something that captures its attention, which could be a prey animal like a bird. Your cat may also chatter when it is excited while “hunting” its toys or kibble. Chattering could be a sign of frustration though, when the cat is unable to reach its target. 
 
If you would like to relieve your cat’s frustration, offer it different toys such as feather chasers, and foil balls. While chattering is generally harmless, check that your cat is not salivating while chattering as this could signal an underlying dental or health issue. If so, take your pet to the vet as soon as you can. 

2. Squeezing into tight spaces
 

 
Inside a shoebox, in a cupboard… these are some small spaces you sometimes find cats hiding in. Cats feel safer and more comfortable in these hiding spots. 

When your cat curls up in a corner or a small space before it takes a nap, it may also be protecting its vulnerable underbelly while resting. As such, provide some cosy places like cardboard boxes for your pet’s alone time.
 
3. Burying its poop
Generally, many animals tend to keep their waste area separate from their living area to prevent the spread of germs, parasites and pathogens. By burying its poop, your cat could be taking extra care to stay healthy and disease-free. 

Also, this could be an ingrained survival tactic to avoid attention from predators – in the wild, burying poop helps the animal hide from its predators’ keen sense of smell. 

4. Curling its lip 
The technical term for this action is the flehmen response, which is actually common in many animals including tigers and horses. Your cat is actually “tasting the air” or picking up other cats’ pheromones from the environment. 

By leaving its mouth slightly open and lips parted, air can reach a cat’s sensitive scent structure called the vomeronasal organ or the Jacobson organ, which is located behind its top front teeth.

5. “Winking” or blinking slowly
Your cat may be signalling that it is comfortable with you with this “cat-kiss” eye blink, which is a non-threat signal that cats use with each other. You can send the same signal to your cat, by slowly shutting and then opening your eyes; your cat is likely to return the gesture. 
 
However, if your cat blinks often with eyes that have tears or discharge, or look swollen or cloudy, these could be signs of an eye infection, so bring it to the vet for a check-up.
 
6. “Head-butting" 
 

 
Congratulations, your cat likes you and is trying to bond with you! 

The technical term for how the animal presses and rubs its head against objects is called bunting. As your cat pushes its head up against you repeatedly, it could be marking you with its scent, as scent glands are found on its head, just above the eyes but below the ears. By doing so, not only is it indicating that you are part of its social group, it is also showing affection.
 
7. Showing its butt
This is a sign that your cat is feeling secure and comfortable with you. The action, when made to another cat, is actually the offer of a butt sniff, a form of friendly feline greeting. When your cat does this to you, a human, think of it as giving a handshake, or even a friendly hug and kiss. 

To reciprocate, give your cat pets or scratches where it likes most. Sometimes, petting or stroking your cat may elicit this response, which means it is definitely enjoying what you are doing.
 
Learning More
Curious to know more about your feline friend’s behaviour? Check out our article on cat and dog behaviour to understand it better. You can watch this video on cat care to learn how to provide a comfortable and happy home for your cat. 

For more cat and animal facts, and more tips on pet care, you can like and follow AnimalBuzzSG on Facebook or visit the Animal & Veterinary Service webpage here.

 

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Text by Melissa Lee and Victoria Cheong


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