Veterinarian Fox Chapel | What Is Your Cat Telling You Part 5
Welcome to part five of our six part series about cat communication, Dr. Linkenheimer from veterinarian Fox Chapel helps us demystify how our cats communicate with us. In the previous articles, we learned about what different cat vocalizations mean, as well as what their body language means. In these final two articles, we put it all together.
Knowing their actions as well as body language not only will help you understand what is your cat telling you, but it will help you bond when your cat realizes you’re ‘speaking their language’.
Cats like contact
A common kitty action is when a cat head butts you, or rubs its head and face on your, or the furniture. Many cat owners may not realize that cats have scent glands all over their body. And then they rub these scent glands on you, they are saying in their kitty language that you ‘belong’ to them. Or rather, you both belong together. These glands are located in their paws, under their chin, their cheeks, forehead and top of the head, as well as their hindquarters and tail. If your cat jumps on your lap, and rubs their head all over your hands, shoulders and chest, they are claiming you.
But more than just indicating you are their people, many scientists and veterinarians believe releasing their scent glands increases their endorphins, helping your cat feel calm, safe and happy. The headbutting can also be a way of your kitty friend to be initiating some love and attention. Cats generally prefer their head and chin scratched, so a persistent head butting motion, says Dr. Linkenheimer the owner of veterinarian Fox Chapel clinic, River Valley Veterinary Hospital, is often a way to get attention. Headbutts, may also be the way your cat recognizes you.
What About Cats Eyesight
Cats have excellent far-sighted vision. People have 20/20 vision, cats have 20/100 which allows them to hunt birds and mice. But close up, everything is actually quite blurry to a cat. They often depend on their smell to figure out who’s there, getting close to our face so they know who we are. Also, cats have hunter vision, they can see a distance away, but can’t see directly in front of their nose. You may notice this when giving your kitty some treats, if you hold it right in front of their nose, they will root around with their nose until they find it. This is because they can’t see the treat, so they are sniffing around looking for it.
Nibbling the fingers is another curious habit of cats. While not all cats do this, it is a well known indication of fondness for their favorite people. However, cat owners should be very aware of the difference between a love nibble and a cat that has been overstimulated. Usually, the love bites happen after some nice headbutting and head scratches. Your cat may snuggle on your lap, gently nibbling on your fingers as a sign of affection. As long as this doesn’t bother you, there’s no problem to let it continue. If they bite too hard, simply remove your hand, to indicate that it wasn’t enjoyable. Your cat will quickly get the message.
Veterinarian Fox Chapel | What Are Cat Love Bites
However, if the bites are harder, and are accompanied by your cat grabbing your hand, this may be a reaction to overstimulation, according to expert, Dr. Linkenheimer of veterinarian Fox Chapel clinic, River Valley Veterinary Hospital. Especially if you had been petting them on their belly.
While cat tummies look very inviting to pet, especially when your kitty is sprawled out on their back, looking happy and comfortable, that’s not always – or in fact usually – an indication of wanting tummy rubs. When a cat exposes their belly to you, they are saying they are comfortable with you, and they know you won’t hurt them. That’s why they can expose the most vulnerable part of themselves. Don’t violate that trust by going in for a belly rub. If you want to rub a belly, get a dog, they love it!
Do Cats Like Belly Rubs?
Another possibility is that they are actually happy to accept belly rubs, but only for a short time. This is because the hair follicles on the stomach are actually super sensitive. A tummy rub longer than a couple of seconds may end up being painful for your feline family member. So, they deploy their claws and teeth to get the message across: hey – I’m done here. Somethings, it’s in response to a build up of static electricity, and they got a shock! They bite to say “Hey! What was that?”
Meanwhile, Dr. Linkenheimer of veterinarian Fox Chapel says if your cat grabs your hand with their paw and bites your hand after you stop petting, this is often an indication that they want to play! Your cat needs regular playtime, often to simulate their hunting reflex. They want to stalk, pounce, kick and bite! Get to know when your cat is ready for playtime, and experiment with a wide variety of toys they enjoy. When your cat indicates it’s play time, get playing! Feathers on strings, wind up mice that run around the floor, laser pointers, crinkle balls, jingly balls are all popular cat toys your cat is sure to love.
It’s True, Cats Love Boxes
Cats are also known to love boxes! And while this isn’t a hard and fast rule for all house cats, many cats love playing with boxes. Cats instinctually hide, while they are predators, they also have to be mindful of other predators, and love places where they can hide. Boxes represent natural hiding spots for many cats. Boxes help keep them warm, and are comfortable. In fact, a study with shelter cats shows that when boxes were given to shelter cats in their new home, they adapted quicker. Big cats like lions, tigers and jaguars also love playing with boxes!
Contact Us Today!
We hope you learned a lot about some common behaviors of your pet cats. Like any pet, cats will have their own idiosyncrasies, so get to know your own pet. What they like, what they dislike, and what their own personal body language is, especially as it relates to your bond and relationship. Look for context to give you valuable clues about what your cat wants and needs, and if you have any questions at all, contact veterinarian Fox Chapel clinic, River Valley Veterinarian. Dr. Linkenheimer and his team will be more than happy to help you with any and all questions you may have about your beloved pet.