In detail

Communication with cats: 6 common misunderstandings


There are often misunderstandings in communication between people and cats. Because cat language is very different from human language and is much more subtle. The following tips will help you understand your cat better. The seemingly pejorative look of the sweet minimiez is probably meant friendly - Shutterstock / PCHT

Cats are sometimes said to be unpredictable and difficult to see through. In truth, correct communication with the velvet paws is important if you want to understand their behavior. Here are a few common misunderstandings that can disrupt harmony in the human-cat relationship.

1. When cats present their little tummy

When cats lie on their backs and show their fluffy tummy, it is very tempting to crawl through them properly. Often the velvet paw lets it go and purrs with relish, but then suddenly - apparently out of the blue - suddenly paws, or the still peaceful cuddly tiger grabs the hand of man and bites into it.

This is not due to the moodiness of your cat, it is a misunderstanding. In the supine position, the fur noses can defend themselves excellently because they have all four paws free and are ready to fight. Some cats like a bit of belly scratching, but after a while they have enough of it. They usually communicate this too, but whoever does not recognize the signals or does not know how to interpret them, the supposed mood swings come as a surprise. If you notice a twitching tip of the tail, the ears gradually turn to the side and the pupils narrow, are the warning sign that your kitty is no longer interested in cuddling. Then simply pull your hand back carefully and slowly.

2. Cats don't only purr when they feel good

When purring, cats express that they pose no danger. However, this is not only the case if they feel good, but also if they are sick, injured or weakened, possibly even dying. The purring has a calming effect not only on people, but also on the cat itself. It is believed that the melodious frequency of the purring sounds may promote the healing process in the event of illness or injury.

Is your cat purring while petting or grooming its fur and is otherwise healthy and alert? Then everything is fine and she is relaxed and happy. However, if there is no reason why she is purring, or if she looks strikingly quiet and reserved overall, you should go to the vet with her to check whether she is well.

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3. Apparently no communication? Don't ignore cat silence!

As the Austrian-American communication scientist Paul Watzlawick once said: "You can't not communicate." This means that silence or withdrawal also says something, not only in the communication between people, but also in the communication between animals and people. So be especially vigilant if your cat suddenly behaves much calmer, shy, or fearful than usual.

Usually this means that something is wrong. Either she's scared and looking for security, or she's in pain and sick but wants to hide her weakness. In any case, a visit to the veterinarian is advisable. If the dog is unable to detect any illness or injury or find other troubling symptoms, you should continue to monitor your kitty to see whether her behavior may return to normal. If not, it may have scared you a long time or deeply unsettled you, and a cat psychologist can help you make your cat feel safe again.

4. Don't stare at me

Eye contact is considered a polite gesture of respect among humans, but cats use direct eye contact as a threat in their communication. So do not stare at a cat, but rather look past it with your eyelids lowered or slowly blinking at an angle. She finds that far more friendly.

The other way around, a fur nose is meant as a compliment and politely when it looks towards you with lowered eyelids or slowly blinking without staring directly at you. If you have little experience with the velvet paws and interpret the view from a human perspective, you can misunderstand it and think that the cat disapproves or despises the person. That's not the case.

5. Lack of consistency in communication with the cat

Misunderstandings on the cat side can arise if you are inconsistent in your choice of words as soon as you speak to your fur nose. A ban, for example, shouldn't even say "Pooh!", Sometimes "No" and then again "Let it stay!" to be pronounced. Always use the same signal for the same message so that your kitty understands what you want from her.

6. Fur noses like it calm and have no humor

Surprises, pranks, and loud, shrill noises are horrible for cats. People are used to joking with each other and know how to estimate surprises and loud noises better than their room tigers. Above all, we humans do not have as fine senses and ears as the sensitive velvet paws, so that we perceive all of this in a weakened form and feel less disturbed by it.

For the sake of your cat's sake, resist the temptation to fool, annoy, or trick him. Don't scare her and gently teach her necessary changes. When communicating with her, speak in a gentle, calm voice and let cats come to you rather than surprise the cuddly tigers with affection. Try to make this clear to young children and visitors who are not very familiar with cats.


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