What Cat Purrs About: The Cat Dictionary

Felinologists claim that cats meow only for us humans. They communicate with each other in another way, non-verbally. So what do our pets tell us?

Let’s get acquainted with the cat’s «vocabulary.


— A short, one-syllable «meow» simply means hello. If this syllable is repeated more than once, it means you are very welcome.

— A long and long «meow…» in a low note means a demand to do something, for example, to open the door. You can also hear the same sound, but on a low note a cat complains of displeasure and on a high note it expresses pain or fear.

— A cat purrs, of course, when it is satisfied with life. But sometimes, when the animal is sick or nervous, purring is a kind of mantra, an attempt to calm itself.

— Sometimes cats make certain «quacking» noises, for example, if they fail to catch their prey — a fly or a bird that, alas, is out of reach. This is how cats get frustrated.


— If a cat is about to defend itself against an enemy, it hisses warningly.

In addition to sounds, cats widely use sign language. And for us, humans, it is more understandable and unambiguous.

— The main place in cat gestures is the tail: if it’s up — the cat feels contentment, if it’s trembling — the purr-face is happy to see you. A tail which is raised and fluffed up at the base signifies aggression, but if the tail is between hind legs the cat is scared. The wagging of the tail means thoughtfulness, and a strong tail means the cat is very unhappy. In general, the use of the tail in non-verbal speech is a distinctive feature of domestic cats: only our pets allow themselves to raise the tail, and all wild animals always put it down or even hide it in their legs.

— If the cat has come to pet you, this is how he shows his affection. This is how he «tags» his own. The characteristic rubbing of your whole body means a very affectionate greeting. If the cat rubs your body against the furniture in front of the guests, it means that he didn’t like the guests and shows that he is the boss.


— Sometimes cats sniff your face — it means that the animal is wondering if it is you. If it then tries to hide its head under your chin or under your arm, the face control is passed.

— If the cat starts to lick you, he recognizes you as a member of the cat’s pride, or there is something delicious on you.

— And the highest expression of love and comfort is the «milk step» — when the cat stomps and «kneads» you with his paws, then releasing, then retracting claws.

Of course, the happy owners of cats know many other cat gestures and habits, and understand their pets better than anyone else. But how cats feel and understand us so wonderfully is a mystery.

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What Cat Purrs About: The Cat Dictionary
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