Cat Speak—Understanding the Language of Cats

Updated on January 31, 2015

How to Communicate Better With Your Cat

Throughout the history of mankind, cats were used mainly on the farm to catch vermin. Little thought was given to the cat's reserve. Cats owned by the relatively fewer wealthy households were mostly revered as symbols of status, ornamentation—and in Egyptian times—wonder.

Since cats were long seen only as creatures meant to enhance human life, they are sometimes seen as a species lacking their own emotional life. This is a mistake. Cats are very intelligent animals that have evolved a variety of body communications that they use to communicate their needs. As any cat lover might agree, close observation of the cat will reveal rich levels of cat speak.

The following list is intended to help those who wish to have a closer and happier relationship with their pet cat by understanding their body language.

  • Changes in Temperament

If you wake up to find your cat staring at your face every morning when this was not the case for perhaps a decade, this could indicate emotional distress or physical illness. Take stock of your cat and bring it to the vet if necessary. Generally speaking, healthy cats are a bit stand-offish, some more so than others.

Though you might enjoy the sudden attention, if your cat is suddenly very affectionate, this could indicate a problem. Remember that even if your cat is stand offish and rejects you, they still love you. Distress can often make them realize that you are the one who loves them the most and can help them. So take heart, take stock, and have the vet check them out.

  • Blinking

If your cat blinks both eyes at once, you should consider yourself lucky as you have just been kitty kissed! You can also "kiss" your kitty too by catching your cat's eyes and blinking slowly and deliberately at it. Remember that one blink is quite sufficient, although you may try two.

If your kitty returns the blink, then you have just been kissed back in the world of cats! Don't get upset if your kitty doesn't kiss you right away, because you might have suddenly surprised them with so much affection. But don't worry, your kitty will be kissing you once it adjusts to your loving blinks!

  • More Kitty Kisses

Another version of the kitty kiss is when your cat gently puts its nose against your nose. Your cat may also choose to put its nose on your forehead once or several times. A kitty kiss on the forehead is also a kitty blessing! If your kitty puts its nose to your forehead several times, your cat either misses you greatly or is feeling some anxiety about your love. Either way, know that your kitty loves you a lot!

  • Cat's tail

You might wonder sometimes why your cat stalks you, demands a proper petting, and then plops its tail on your leg or your arm. In the cat world, this can sometimes indicate a form of dominance and some cats get a bit miffed when a cat puts its tail on them. Perhaps this is because they can't stand the cat-to-cat affection at times.

But when a cat puts a tail on a human being, it takes on a whole new meaning. It can mean that they want to feel connected to you. In larger feline species, such as the tiger and lion, cats tend to put their tail on their families. It is really a sign of affection. They think you are family!

  • The Cat Crazies

If your cat is running all over the place like a maniac for an hour every day, your cat has the cat crazies! This often happens at night, since cats tend to be nocturnal. The cat crazies are a surge of energy which enters the cat's body once a day for a short period.

Do not be distressed when your cat starts knocking over your CD collection or brushing things off of counters. These things are to be expected. Your cat might even decide to trip you as you're going to the fridge for a little midnight snack. Always expect the worst! It's the cat crazies! If the crazies bother you because you've fallen flat on your face, don't worry, in a very short while your cat will be sleeping for the next 22 hours.

  • Pawing

Pawing at you is your cat reverting back to the time when it was a kitten. You are its mum or dad! It is expressing love when it paws at you.

  • Q-tip Communication

Q-tip communication can be a little gross, since you end up finding Q-tips, store receipts, and little pieces of plastic your cat fished out of the garbage in the water bowl or other locations. These are actually signs that your cat communicating with you at a very high level. If you find a Q-tip in the water bowl, this means the water is not fresh or that it needs to be refilled.

If you start finding Q-tips at a closed door, this is because the kitty wants you to open it! There are many other examples of Q-tip communication. But in general, if your cat starts using Q-tips for communication, you should thoughtfully examine where the Q-tip has been placed and what importance the area holds for your cat.

  • Meows

Soft meows indicate a hello. Medium meows indicate a hello and some level of demand. Big meows mean business, buster.

  • Licking of Lips or Pretend Chewing

Your cat is hungry or thirsty! Offer it some fresh water or a snack. If these do not work, try some catnip. Maybe your cat is just bored. Try playing with your cat. A long stick with a feather attached is a lovely way to bond with your cat. If this doesn't work, put the Animal Planet on. Some cats love to watch Animal Planet.

Even if they don't watch the TV, many like to hear the sounds of other wild animals! And if this fails, make a mental note to buy your cat a new stuffed mouse! If your cat continues to lick its lips and pretend to chew at you, try petting it. One of these should work, because your cat clearly just wants your attention!

  • Purring

Purring means contentment. But beware, sometimes it also means distress! If your cat is hurt and purring, do not dismiss the hurt. Some cats purr on both happy and sad occasions.

  • Turning Its Back to You

Your cat is mad at you. Cats tend to do this also especially if you have gone away on vacation. They feel they missed you too much and you have put them through an emotional roller coaster. Don't worry. This should end in a day or two. Your cat soon won't be able to resist your lovin'!

  • Jutting a Paw or Leg Out

This is an indication your cat desires some sort of attention or affection. Even if your cat does not show any other signs of need, this is often the biggest way for some cats to show they need some serious love.

  • Dead Birds and Mice

Your cat has brought a dead bird or mouse to the door or possibly inside! Bad kitty, you say. Well to a human, seeing a beautiful bird or sweet innocent mouse laying limp in the hallway floor may offend our sensibilities. Our cute cat has suddenly turned into a monster! Not so fast.

Your cat was trying to give you a present. By bringing in its catch, it is giving you a gift and doing its fair share to support the household. Keep in mind that when some cats are young, their moms teach them to hunt. Your kitty will be surprised when instead of praise, you chastise them for their prize. All your cat wanted to do was impress you. Bear in mind that your cat might have spent the last few hours or days thinking of a strategy to wow you with their special gift. This is possibly the biggest area of miscommunication between human and cat.

Video: Body Language in Cats

Thus concludes my article about cat communication. I hope this is helpful to other cat lovers out there. Remember that even though cats are stand-offish by nature, they have a great need for love, just like people. If your cat is not very affectionate, just try to let it know that you are there for it. If you let your cat be natural, it will feel safe and eventually it may open up to you. I hope the preceding article will help foster more understanding between humans and their cats.

Many blessings to all cat lovers out there and their furry friends.


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    • profile image


      4 months ago

      Hey, my cat usd to be so affectionate and loving. She used to jump up on the bed at night and rub her face against me. She was like that ever since I got her. Now she's has stopped being affectionate and is mysteriously meowing and I'm a little concerned. Please get back to me, please I need your help.

    • profile image


      4 months ago

      I have had my cat for almost 3 years and she has never been affectionate toward me before. Recently I had a kitten but had to get rid of the kitten for other reasons. But after the kitten left , Lola has been clingy to me . I don’t know what’s changed? Before she wouldn’t come near me unless she was hungry.

    • profile image


      5 months ago

      I have loved cats my entire life & have been blessed with great ones thru out my life as well. After the passing of my last 2, I waited 3 yrs before I got new ones. I've considered myself somewhat of a pro at raising & training them, but these 2 new guys have me startled. I need some advice if I may. They're abandoned kittens, now 11 months old. 1 is extremely aloof, he won't let me touch him or play with him unless he wants to. I may be reading a book, cooking or watching a movie & he'll climb ALL over me to pet him. But if I start, he walks away from me after a minute or two. The baby is just that, a baby! He's 1/3 the size of his brother he cuddles in my arms & literally wants to be held like a baby. Which I don't mind at all. They both do something my other cats never did. They kiss me on my lips when I clean their litter box, it's dome shaped & they also kiss my lips to wake me up every morning... Both of my sons have seen this, I just don't understand why they do it. The moment I wake up, they go to sleep. Is this just normal behavior that my others never showed?

    • profile image


      5 months ago

      I love kittens & cats because they sometimes are very affectionate . Especially when all of this information is true!!!

    • profile image


      8 months ago

      i was worried that my cat was unhappy and i was worried. I love my cat and she is the most important thing in my life. Her and her baby are so important that i spoil them so much. I am thankful for whoever posted this video. it really helped.

    • profile image

      Annalisa Howe 

      15 months ago

      I'm glad I saw this. My cat has been acting very affectionate in the past hour and I wanted to make sure everything was alright or if there was something wrong. But by dad said if a cat starts to act like that it means sontething is going to happen like an earthquake or something to the area or owner. But I'm really glad I saw this because now I know when my cat is trying to talk to me or when she needs me.

    • profile image


      18 months ago

      :) thanks!

    • profile image


      22 months ago

      Just wanted to add the tail wag / tail shake. My cat does this every day apparently it means they are extremely happy to see you, he kind of shakes his tail or quiver might be the better word. Very cute. He gives me nose kisses all day and stretches a paw out as well. Love him so much. Selkirk Rex ftw, best breed ive ever met!

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks for this terrific hub, Amy. This is so helpful for me to understand my two cats, esp. the blinking bit. Voted up!

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      There's some great information....some pretty giant leaps....I have no idea why it was written as a four year old....drives me nuts.

    • profile image

      Lisa E 

      4 years ago

      My cat drops things in his food bowl all the time. I have seen him playing with the qtip, drop it in his dish and then start eating-like he suddenly realized he was hungry after all that playing. He likes to drop things in my shoes and then fish them out. In his case, the qtip in the food and/or water bowl is part of his play.

    • profile image


      5 years ago i am understanding my cat likes and dislikes

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      This all sounds nice, but most of it is nonsense. A cat does not give you a present by leaving a dead mouse or bird. Cats' meows cannot be interpreted in such a simple manner. Licking of their lips can also display annoyance. This is over-simplifying cat behaviour and anthropomorphising them whilst pretending to be science.

    • becs19 profile image


      5 years ago from Behind You

      Botch of my cats will put a piece of food in their water whenever they want it changed.

    • MAGICFIVE profile image


      5 years ago from New York

      This is a fantastic article! I thought that "Q-tip in the water" was very interesting, and I wouldn't put it past a cat to communicate that way. I think cats are a lot smarter than we give them credit for!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      very helpful

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      My cat go Crazzy All the timee :D its so interesting!! Now i understandd why alreadyy :3 Thankieww!

      Anywaay. Every morning, My cat stood in front of my door, Does it mean she's sick? :(

    • harmony155 profile image


      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Didn't know my kitty was kissing me with his blinking. Thx for the translation!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      With my cats the 'cat crazies' closely followed a trip to the litter box .. Almost like the weight loss made them jet propelled :-)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      well impressed with this, i read right through and laughed as its my cats all over i found this information very helpful and im sure my two cats will enjoy the new information iv learnt about them lol thanks

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      hi thanks this is awesome news i can understand my cat now while im typeing he is hittinng weird buttons will com back for more. :):):):):):)

    • ubanichijioke profile image

      Alexander Thandi Ubani 

      6 years ago from Lagos

      Great info on the cats. Glad i read this. Cats re indeed our friends

    • profile image


      7 years ago from Canada

      I really enjoyed reading this hub. I then read it to my husband who also agreed that it does explain some of our cats behaviors,expecially the blinking.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Thanks but i was looking for how speak it, if u know what i mean thanks though.It was great!!!!

    • Cougar1002 profile image


      9 years ago from Knoxville, TN

      Great hub!

    • bright_sorcerer profile image


      9 years ago from London, Canada

      What a great hub!!! I remember as a boy we had a black cat called Sasha that used to come down to my room in the basement at night and curl up on one side of my bed...even though there were several other people in the house. I've always had an extreme fondness for animals, but cats in particular. It was only mildly surprising to find out one of my animal guides was a huge black cat, although the last time I saw him. he had told me I wasn't ready for him yet, tossed his head in the air and turned and walked away.

      It was great to see a hub with some good information on communication with cats. Yes, I definitely learned a few things so thank you. Blessings.

    • hglick profile image


      10 years ago from Ronkonkoma, NY

      The cat crazies probably comes after the 18 hour catnap (LOL) Of my 6 cats, they all get the crazies at one time or another. Great Hub!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Thanks for the tips! This is a great hub!


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