What My Cats Have To Say

The Learning Curve

When I first got my two cats, I did so with some trepidation because I just knew they’d probably tear up our furniture. My doubts about it were soon born out, and our stuffed furniture now looks like it’s been run over a few times by a hay rake. Scolding the cats was like whizzing into the wind (never a good idea). In fact, I could swear I saw them grinning at each other a few times after my tirades as they promptly went back to raking their claws down the corners of their favorite pieces of furniture.

There were times I just wanted to drown them both. But my late mother, for whom I got the cats in the first place, convinced me that was a bad idea and weren’t they “just the cutest cats you’ve ever seen?” And so, I grit my teeth, time passed by, my mother passed away, and her two cats nuzzled their sly kitty cat ways into my broken heart.
Now I have to admit I love them both, if not entirely equally. It seemed like they recognized the loss of my mother because they made themselves more available for me to pet or talk to. It has become apparent over time that they love me, too, although I really don’t know why. Cats, it seems to choose who they love, when they will show affection and when they want it. But unless you observe just how they look at you, how they move or even meow, you can miss it. I’ve often wondered if there’s some Japanese influence in cat language because their language is made up of a lot of nuance.

Cat Talk

  • Purring – It can mean contentment, but in some cases’ agitation.
  • Rubbing up against your legs – This can mean “I love you, I want attention, or I want something.”
  • Meowing – This can be an attention getter.

You’re supposed to get up and see what they’re looking at like an empty food or water dish, the door if they want out or even a cabinet where you keep their food. It can also mean they’re displeased about something like a dirty litter box.

A lot of meowing – This can be just their way of having a conversation with you. One of my cats will greet me when I get home sometimes, and we’ll have a long conversation together even if I have no idea of what he’s said. I assume he’s upset about me being gone all day and wants to tell me about it.

Eye Communication – Watch your cat’s eyes! If they want your permission to get up on your lap, they’ll look at you and then your lap or the side of your chair they want to use to get there. They will repeat this eye communication until you respond, or they just take it upon themselves to give up asking or just jump up on you without your permission.

Squinting at you – I personally think when a cat has been watching you, and you look back at it to see it squint at you, it means it likes or loves you. I could be wrong, but it certainly seems that way.

Sitting down in front of you and looking up at you – I’ve found that in many, many cases they just want you to come down to their level and pet them. When one of my cats does this, and I respond that way, he will nuzzle me and then go about his business. He just wanted to be reassured.

Do Cats Understand Us?

Do cats understand English? Yes, they can learn some words over time. No, no seems to be understood in my house, but then it’s usually said somewhat loudly and as I said before, cats do relate to nuance. I would assume they can learn the meaning of some words in languages other than English as well. One of my cats whose name is Sunny appears to understand me when I ask him if he’s hungry. Also, as he sleeps on a towel next to me, understands me when I tell him it’s time to go to sleep. His nightly ritual is to stand and purr, wanting me to pet him. Then, when I tell him it’s time to go to sleep, he will turn away, curl up and go to sleep.

I suppose the most important lesson we all can learn when “communicating” with cats is to be observant. Watch and listen to them closely. Take note of their habits. Occasionally get down on their level and see what they’re all about. It will make your “relationship” with them all the more tolerable, if not down-right enjoyable. And remember one thing! A cat chooses you, and it may take some time for him, her or it to warm up to you. You don’t really own the cat. It’s a living, emotional, sentient being, and we should consider it a privilege to care for it.

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