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Post No.: 0450cat

 

Fluffystealthkitten says:

 

It is time to explore the body language of my feline species. We will also take a look at some problem behaviours that a cat may exhibit.

 

Furrywisepuppy says:

 

I guess I’ll leave most of this one to you. Woof.

 

Fluffystealthkitten says:

 

Okay, the first and most crucial thing to understand is that cats are relatively more solitary than social creatures hence our social communication is somewhat limited.

 

Furrywisepuppy says:

 

I’ve definitely noticed cats staring at each other as if they just want to get past each other yet they don’t just simply go past each other! They can remain in a standoff that lasts for a while because they don’t trust each other to stop watching each other, yet they cannot just directly tell each other that all they want to do is walk past.

 

Fluffystealthkitten says:

 

But we do communicate with our vocalisations and body language if people learn how to interpret them. The meow associated with cats is more for communicating with humans than with other cats, and there’s a huge variation between individual cats and their vocalisations as they each try to adapt the best way to communicate with their particular owners. So learn the difference between different purrs, for instance, because different ones mean contentment, solicitation, or self-soothing due to stress.

 

Vocal communication is a primary mode of communication for humans (in the form of speech) but the primary mode for a cat is her/his body language. Tactile and olfactory communication are important too.

 

More specifically, a cat communicates different emotions mainly by posturing with the entire body, through the orientation of the ears or whiskers, and by the position of the tail or flicking the tail – more than through facial expressions. Cats don’t have the facial muscles to express anywhere near as many expressions as humans can, and this is probably the chief reason why people think us cats are unreadable enigmas. Post No.: 0423 articulated how people should be careful about assuming a one-to-one mapping between the meanings of the bodily expressions of humans and the bodily expressions of other animals.

 

Furrywisepuppy says:

 

I remember you taught me that if you avert your gaze with a cat, it will signal to the cat that you don’t want conflict and don’t pose a threat – a friendly gesture is a slow blink while turning away. Meanwhile, direct eye contact can be perceived as threatening to a cat. This means that a cat often goes towards the person who’s not trying to capture his/her attention rather than the person who is!

 

Fluffystealthkitten says:

 

Yeah. Pupil dilation is correlated with arousal levels too, which, like with humans, can mean interest or fear hence you must look at other body language cues to confirm which it is. A soft gaze with eyes half-closed and eyelids that are slowly blinking signals relaxation. Sleeping with the belly exposed means that the cat feels safe and comfortable where she/he is. Exposing the underbelly is a sign of trust and can elicit play, but it isn’t an invitation to rub the belly.

 

Kneading behaviour is not a problem for cats. Suckling is okay for adult cats too as long as they’re not going to ingest anything that’s harmful.

 

The neutral tail position is roughly horizontal. It raises to roughly vertical during friendly greetings, tucks in low when a cat is frightened, and arches or points downwards during aggressive encounters. Flicking the tail may mean ‘back off’, and thumping or thrashing it may signal frustration or anger. Don’t try to hush a cat by going, “Shh” because this sounds similar to an aggressive hiss! You can try purring with a cat though.

 

Furrywisepuppy says:

 

Cats may seem unpredictable – one may enjoy being stroked one moment then dart away the next – but if you can read the signs then you’ll understand when to stop petting them.

 

Fluffystealthkitten says:

 

Flattened ears could be a sign of distress. Stress can also be displayed through excessive grooming, over-eating and increased sleeping, to indoor spraying, indoor soiling, aggression and destructive behaviours.

 

Furrywisepuppy says:

 

Therefore, like with dogs, destructive behaviour isn’t a cat ‘having a party’ but is a symptom of distress. The solution is not punishment but finding the source of their stress and alleviating it.

 

Fluffystealthkitten says:

 

All cats spray, although tomcats (non-neutered males) normally spray more. Indoor spraying increases the more cats there are within a space because it’s about marking their territories. Being predominantly solitary animals – marking and defending territories and other resources is important to us. Meow.

 

…If you have two cats and one of them is more assertive, and maybe larger, and so gets control of the resources in the house, then that cat is going to appear more confident and affectionate towards her/his owner – but really this affection is about claiming control of you like any other crucial resource!

 

The less-engaged cat might have lost out after a level of conflict with the other (who might even be a sibling) and isn’t being unfriendly per se. They might have lost out very early in the relationship, and then this perpetuated when the other cat got and gets more food and therefore grew larger and stayed larger than them. The ‘more affectionate’ cat is essentially guarding all of the resources, including access to you as the main provider of food treats and other things. This affection may be real but part of it is about continually imparting her/his own scent on you – especially as you wash yourself each day, wear new or washed clothes or apply fragrances. This scent-rubbing says ‘you’re in my safe zone’ and ‘you’re mine’.

 

This is again why it’s important to provide ample resources for every cat in the household so that they don’t need to compete for them. This includes entry/exit routes and points too so that one cat cannot block all access to resources or to the outside.

 

Furrywisepuppy says:

 

This is not spoiling them. You need to understand your animal and take responsibility for your decision to accommodate them inside your home – especially the decision to house more than one cat when they are primarily solitary animals.

 

Fluffystealthkitten says:

 

A cat doesn’t need to sit near a resource to guard it but it’ll be on patrol. Like dogs, it’s not because they have a linear dominance hierarchy – it’s about the particular relationship and contested resource rather than the individual being the ‘top cat’ of the house.

 

Furrywisepuppy says:

 

It’s in fact similar with humans – during times of economic uncertainty, far-rightwing sentiments tend to rise because it’s like ‘there aren’t enough jobs and resources for everybody here so immigrants must go’. But when there’s certainty and abundance then people tend to be more tolerant, share and calmly get along.

 

Fluffystealthkitten says:

 

So you could be an important resource that a cat or dog is defending from another human or animal whom they think is trying to take your attention away from them hence why they’re aggressive towards this person or other animal. Therefore you’ll need to reassure your pet in these circumstances by ensuring that they have access to plenty of resources – to show that you aren’t the bottleneck for resources and there’s no need to compete over you or anything else.

 

If there seems to be a cat who bullies all others in the neighbourhood, it’ll be because this cat is taking out her/his frustrations on others (like human bullies often do too) – aggression is energy-intensive and risky, and a content cat will be calm and has no reason to waste energy or fur on harassing other cats.

 

Furrywisepuppy says:

 

The human-cat relationship is more tenuous than the human-dog relationship. Domestic cats are more ready to revert back to feral and free-living individuals if human support is not available – even to the point of breeding with wild cats peacefully.

 

Fluffystealthkitten says:

 

And because we haven’t been domesticated for as long, domestic cats retain more of their wilder characteristics than dogs, hence we need ample outdoor access and space, and the freedom to express our natural predatory behaviours, for the sake of both our fluffy mental health and physical health.

 

Furrywisepuppy says:

 

This is all valuable information to help you build the best relationships you can with your companion cats or dogs because we know you care.

 

Fluffystealthkitten says:

 

That’s right.

 

Well I’ve got to go patrol my territory now. I only let fur-iends like Furrywisepuppy enter. But I uniquely play it like a tower defence game by setting up blocks and traps too. Many have tried but no other cat has breached my realm yet! Meow!

 

Furrywisepuppy says:

 

Got to remember that slime bucket on top of the door the next time I’m passing through! Woof!

 

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