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What your cat is really telling you

CatTo some people, cats are little balls of mystery- knowing what they're thinking can be very hard to figure out. Veterinarian and behavior specialist Jeanine Berger has put together a feline dictionary to help translate what our kitties are saying (and to hopefully help avoid miscommunications that result in human injury).

  • Meow: An all-purpose greeting
  • Purr: Sign of contentment; however cats may also purr when anxious or sick (ie at the vet)
  • Growl, hiss, or spit: Cat is feeling defensive, scared, stressed, or aggressive- Leave that cat alone!
  • Squeak (high pitched, raspy cry): Used in play or feeding
  • Shriek (loud, harsh, high pitched sound): Aggression or pain- stop what you are doing.
  • Chatter (teeth chatter together): Cat is hunting or being kept from hunting
  • Estrus call (long-lasting, variable pitch sound): female in heat
  • Howl and yowl (loud, harsh, drawn out call): Aggression, distress, or elderly cat with cognitive disorder
  • Mew (high pitched, medium amplitude, long 'eee'): mother interacting with kittens
  • Moan (low frequency, long duration 'oo' or 'uu'): before cat coughs up a hairball

If this is a topic that interests you, please check out http://veterinarycalendar.dvm360.com/feline-dictionary-understanding-feline-body-language-proceedings for Dr. Berger's full article. Her article also discusses body language, facial expressions, and specific scenarios where you would or would not want to approach your cat.

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