Although cats are generally not as good as understanding us as dogs are, they have to ability to communicate well with cats and other animals. Dogs are able to read cats, and cats can read dogs, and most do better at reading body language than humans do. Learning to understand the different verbal and body language signs that cats exhibit, and you may well be able put yourself on their level of communication.
The eyes of a cat react automatically to light conditions, as the pupils narrow to thin slits in bright sunlight, and grow to large, black circles in darkness. Beyond those automatic reactions, your cat actually shows his emotional state in his eyes. When your cat's eyes are opened wide, but not so wide that he looks started, this suggests that he is relaxed, but interested. If his eyes are wide open and his pupils are large, this suggests fear. A stalking cat has eyes that are open and intensely focused. A cat who narrows his eyes and focuses his pupils may be ready to lash out, so beware.
Although similar to other cats, each one develops a voice entirely their own. Cats have a wide range of sounds to let you know their emotional state, and here are the more common ones:
– Meows: Cats manage to get a lot of variety from a couple of basic sounds. They vary them by holding certain parts of the sound out longer or shorter, depending on the cat. In due time, you will grow accustomed to the different variations of your cat's meows and what they mean.
– Purring: This is basically the feline equivalent to a smile. Content cats will purr, but so do ones that are hurt, injured, or fried.
– Chattering: If a cat gets excited about the possibility of a kill, or in a male, the possibility of mating, you might hear a rapid clacking of teeth.
– Caterwauling: This is the multi-octave yowl you hear when two cats are about to start fighting. This happens often when two cats contest territory, or when mating season begins in the spring.
– Growling: This is like the caterwaul, but without the up- and-down yowl. This is the sign of an angry or wrinkled cat, and often includes spitting and hissing.
– Screaming: This is a cry of intense pain, which hopefully you will never hear from your cat.
Cats have ears similar to satellite dishes, where they point them in the direction of sounds. The ears of a relaxed cat are up and to the side, but moving to hear various sounds. A cat that is stalking turns both of his ears straight forward, and able to hear the slightest noise from a mouse or other creature. If wrinkled, a cat's ears are facing to the sides. And if his ears are flattened out, this is a cat who is ready to lash out in aggression or defense.
The tail of a cat is one the best indicators of his emotions. A tail up and flipped forward over the back is a happy, friendly cat. An unusual cat has a tail that is puffed out and held low, or even tucked under his body, and moving side to side. If stalking, the tail is held low and stiff, except for some twitching at the end. Unlike a dog, a cat with a wagging tail is a sign of an agitated cat, and usually comes right before a hiss and possible aggression.