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What’s My Cat Trying To Tell Me? Ways Your Cat Communicates With You And What They Mean

By Spencer Montoya June 04, 2021

What does your cat do when they’re trying to communicate with you? Meow, paw your shoulders and legs? Maybe they’ll even knock your food over and spill it on the ground. There are many different things a cat does to get their owner’s attention. 

While cats are adorable and great pets to own, their meowing, pawing, biting, or even rubbing can get annoying from time to time, especially when you are trying to work. Read more to learn just a few of the ways our cats communicate with us.

Meowing

Most often we love to hear the sound of our cat meowing, but this isn’t to say the cat’s meow can’t get annoying from time to time. However, this is your cat's way of vocally getting your attention. Think of it as a language. The cat is saying words but in a dialect humans cannot understand. For example, if you are sitting in a chair, writing an article perhaps, and hear a meow in the kitchen, you’ll probably ignore it. They meow all the time, after all.

Suddenly you hear another meow, but it's closer. You turn in your chair and you see your cat, staring at you with wide eyes and meowing at you. You get up and follow your cat into the kitchen. There they are, sitting in front of the food bowl, waiting. You realize, your cat is hungry! They meowed for your attention because in their mind, it was feeding time. Cats will always use this kind of communication with a human, as it’s the most common form of vocal communication between them and the owner. Cats will also meow to notify the owner when they are done being held. Some cats love being held by their owners, but for others, it’s their worst nightmare. If you are holding your cat, you are most likely giving them kisses, rubbing their tummy, or allowing your child, significant other, or friends to pet them. In the eyes of you and those around you, you’re admiring, cuddling, and treating the cat like it's your baby. However, in the eyes of the cat, they want nothing more than to claw their way out of your grasp. So if you are holding your cat, and they meow, take it to mean “Put me down!” 

Pawing

Cats also use physical means to attract the attention of their humans. Pawing is another common method in which a cat communicates without using its vocals to meow. Sometimes, when you sit down on your couch or your chair, your cat will think, “It’s time to annoy my human and get the attention I deserve!” Sometimes, using vocals isn’t always going to catch the owner’s attention. They may be on the phone, perhaps for an important business meeting or a family phone call, or have earbuds or headphones on and listening to music or videos. 

In this type of circumstance, the cat will eventually realize that they need another way to get the owner’s attention. This calls for physical contact with the owner, like pawing the owner’s leg or standing up and reaching their arm or their shoulder. The cat eventually learns that this will always get the attention of the owner, especially when the cat needs a nail trim. 

Biting

Biting is another tactic a cat uses to communicate with its owner. Typically, when a cat bites, they are communicating with you in a way that signals they want to be left alone or don’t like what you are doing to them, whether it's where you’re petting them or acting hostile towards them. However, cat bites can also be playful or friendly. Most noticeably, kittens will attempt to get your attention by attacking your ankles. Kittens will sometimes think that your ankle or feet are toys and will inevitably attempt to bite at your feet. This primarily means the cat wants to play and needs a toy to play with. Cats will also bite in the form of nips or “love bites”, indicating the cat is happy, feels comfortable, and enjoying the attention they’re getting from the owner. 



Rubbing and Purring

Rubbing and purring, the cat’s most preferred method of showing happiness and appreciation for their human. As the cat and the human come together and bond between each other, a relationship is established between the cat and the human. As the cat doesn’t speak in the same dialect as the owner, they will make a noise known as a purr. The cat will rub on the owner's hand, body, arms, or legs, indicating that they want love and comfort from their human. The faster the owner reacts to the cat’s engagement, the stronger the bond becomes. Think of it like taking care of a baby. When a baby wants their parents, they will make a noise or cry. Once they’re given what they want, the baby will rest and either fall asleep or hold on to the parent cuddling with them. A cat will do similar things, but instead of holding on to you or falling asleep, they will purr and rub on you with big or slightly closed eyes, indicating that they like what the owner is doing to them and encourages the owner to do it more. 

Communication Buttons

Word buttons like “couch”, “yarn”, “pets”, and “all done” make fantastic accessories for helping you and your cat understand each other more and further strengthen the bond between you. This way, you would know precisely what it is your cat wants. 

You could have a row of buttons indicating these four words next to you in your office, living room, or dining room. That way, you can train your cat to push a certain button to tell you precisely what they want. You can keep the buttons in all your rooms or in just one room, and from anywhere, you can hear the button being pressed and you can attend to the cat’s needs.

Cats are amazing pets to own, and having the ability to communicate through word button training will not only help strengthen your bond between you and your cat, but also further alleviate the annoyances of the cat’s continuous vocal and physical attempts to grab your attention. If you have a friend, family member, or a neighbor who has or plans on adopting a cat, share the article with them and inform them of the magical training of teaching your cat how to communicate using words. 


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