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A lot of Cat Behavioral Questions and Confirmations

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Why does the cats tail stand less erect?
\tI'm not talking about a flicking motion (meaning aggravation) or a hair-fluffed state (attack or fear); it just looks weaker? Could this be a sign that the kitten isn't getting something she needs, something lacking, like a loss of vitality? I realize this is a bit of wierd question.

Why does the cat meow? Amusement, pain, dislike of something?

Why does the cat wink one eye? It looks like one eye is simply "closed more" than the other.

Why is the sky blue? (just kidding)

Could this be a sign of fatigue?

Does the kitten get enough sleep? She never seems to sleep and whenver I see her, she

always seems to be just sitting with eyes open or darting around?

Cat Ears?
\tOkay i've observed 4 ear "posturs" and want to confirm their behavioral significance:
\talertness, interest and eagerness="straigh-forward and up"
\trelaxed=off-to side but facing front
\tfearful=side-ways swiveled-out
\taggressive-defesne (could attack)=Flat and back.

Cat Kiss.
\tBlinking at your cat and then having the blink returned, supposedly is the equivalent of a "cat kiss".

Blinks
\tCat's frequently will blink to show that "things are okay" or to make an agreement of "I don't hurt you, you don't hurt me" type of thing. HOwever, excessive blinking could mean agitation and direct stare means a confrontation or stand-off with another cat over territory.
post #2 of 21
A lax looking tail could mean just that... that the cat is relaxed. I think it's great that you want to understand you cat/kitten's body language just try not to read too much into it. A slow blink typically means "I'm comfortable with you". When a cat touches you with it's nose, this is like a greeting... a hello of sorts.

There's LOTS of resources on the web to help you understand your cat's body language but nothing will help you understand better than time spent observing and interacting with your cat's personally.
post #3 of 21
My guy's tail looks limp most of the time when he's walking, and at first I found it odd, but since he's been to the vet recently and nothing's wrong, it just must be that it takes energy to hold that tail up high all the time

Different meows for different things in this house, occasionally he cries when I leave the house and throws himself at my feet, occasionally it's really just conversational (seriously, he stops when I answer him), he'll make sounds at the TV whenever I turn on the Wii and will continue to make noises at the birds chirping in Tiger Woods Golf... he goes to the window and looks for birds... he'll be my alarm clock on weekends or if the thing goes off a while and I don't get up... yesterday a friend stopped over and he was at my feet meowing away, I think he was asking who the strange person was... he doesn't make much noise and usually he's communicating something to me, call me crazy if you want, he even says "Mom" to call me over.

Mine winks, I just think he's blinking one at a time so he doesn't miss anything. The slow blink, all the time when we're relaxing...

I assume most of the behavior is natural in cats, ok maybe not the calling for mom, but really, I just learned what Seamus was communicating over time and observation... don't read too much into it, it's way more fun to just pick up your cat's communications on your own... plus over-reading things, you'll think every blink, twitch, and meow has some 'thing' attached to it and really, he's just a cat being a cat.
post #4 of 21
I think you'd love a book titled Cat Watching. The author is Desmond Morris. It's just filled with those "why does a cat...." type questions and answers. For example, "Why does a cat signal with its ears?" is found on page 52.
post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by twstychik View Post
A lax looking tail could mean just that... that the cat is relaxed. I think it's great that you want to understand you cat/kitten's body language just try not to read too much into it. A slow blink typically means "I'm comfortable with you". When a cat touches you with it's nose, this is like a greeting... a hello of sorts.

There's LOTS of resources on the web to help you understand your cat's body language but nothing will help you understand better than time spent observing and interacting with your cat's personally.
Good call about not reading to much into it. Thanks for the encouragement. I also realized the ears, tongue, and vocalizations and tail and body movements are the only way of it showing what it likes and doesn't like. I've read most the resources on the net, but see the validity in your suggestion of just quality time with the cat, but that doesn't seem to clarify a lot of the behavioral uncertainties I have. Thanks, though.
post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by erinca7821 View Post
My guy's tail looks limp most of the time when he's walking, and at first I found it odd, but since he's been to the vet recently and nothing's wrong, it just must be that it takes energy to hold that tail up high all the time

Different meows for different things in this house, occasionally he cries when I leave the house and throws himself at my feet,
haha. hysterical, cute, adorable image.

Quote:
occasionally it's really just conversational (seriously, he stops when I answer him), he'll make sounds at the TV whenever I turn on the Wii and will continue to make noises at the birds chirping in Tiger Woods Golf... he goes to the window and looks for birds... he'll be my alarm clock on weekends or if the thing goes off a while and I don't get up... yesterday a friend stopped over and he was at my feet meowing away, I think he was asking who the strange person was... he doesn't make much noise and usually he's communicating something to me, call me crazy if you want, he even says "Mom" to call me over.
Hhmmm...cool this confirms it. Each cat has his or her own unique form of "behavioral communication". About inquiring about the stranger, rapport with your video games, etc.

One thing that drove me nuts was that my cat never left me alone. It would always engage the fun hunting-predator play (chasing after socks and such) or be always at my feet. It sounds like your cat gave you some "breathing space" where you could observe it more. I felt like my cat "only existed" -- like it's just always jumping on me and stuff (which is cute for awhile..) with me, so I don't have much opportunity to check out its behavior.
Quote:
Mine winks, I just think he's blinking one at a time so he doesn't miss anything. The slow blink, all the time when we're relaxing...
Good call about the "not missing a beat" blink. It's not a "wink" just a form of blinking and staying alert. I've gotten the slow blink, too, while relaxing. But here's the wierd thing. Tongue. My cat sticks its tongue out at me! After a bath it did this excessively and a few other times. Very little material on this. What does that mean? I felt like my cat was trying to ridicule or make fun of me!

Quote:

I assume most of the behavior is natural in cats, ok maybe not the calling for mom, but really, I just learned what Seamus was communicating over time and observation... don't read too much into it, it's way more fun to just pick up your cat's communications on your own... plus over-reading things, you'll think every blink, twitch, and meow has some 'thing' attached to it and really, he's just a cat being a cat.

Yeah, if anything, I need to be concerned about over-reading things. I do that WAY too much. But the cause of that that over-analysis stems from good intention: wanting to understand the cat. Any ideas other than just time away from the cat, I guess, to avoid over-reading the feline?
post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by coaster View Post
I think you'd love a book titled Cat Watching. The author is Desmond Morris. It's just filled with those "why does a cat...." type questions and answers. For example, "Why does a cat signal with its ears?" is found on page 52.
In Barnes and Noble, I found a "For Dummies" book on cats particularly useful and detailed with the diagrams of body language.

Thanks.
post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 
Conclusively it seems that ear position, tail movement, and vocalizations (purrs, meows, screeches, etc.) make up the main body language, then posture (like arched back) and just general location make up the more general indications.
post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Disgust — Lifting or constant shaking of a paw or paws. The more times the paw is shaken, the stronger a feeling is indicated; this can sometimes be a four paw affair with each paw being lifted and shaken in turn. This is possibly related to the identical action that is displayed after stepping in water.
This is interesting. My cat was walking around like this for awhile (every step he shook his paws like he was shaking mud off, but there was no mud).
post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 
Although my cat has never directly displayed the "chattering" sound, this seems to explain it
Quote:
Cats will often "chatter" or "chirrup" on seeing something of interest out of the window, this is sometimes attributed to mimicking birdsong to attract prey or draw others attention to it, but often birds are not present. Bengals and Tabbies seem more likely to display this behaviour.
So it's a predation technique and a sign of interest. Therefore, because of all there "hunting play" and this chirrupping thing and other behaviors, cats are the "least domesticated", domestic animal!
post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
Light - effect leaving in dark for 8 hours? Accidentally discovered her flew switch and want her to get sleep. Bad to leave under lights for all hours? Not plant but want to ensure retinal care.

I have lights that sometimes get left on in the house. I get concerned that the cat's biorhythms may get distrubed if she's inside with artificial light always on (or the opposite -- if lights get turned off). Anyone ever consider this?
post #12 of 21
It's not something you need to worry about. Cats' circadian rhythms are quite different from ours. Yet they can adapt. If there's enough light for them to find the food, water, and litter, that's all they really need. Cats benefit from sunshine like we do, so rather than being concerned about getting too much light, it's better to be concerned about getting too little.
post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by coaster View Post
It's not something you need to worry about. Cats' circadian rhythms are quite different from ours. Yet they can adapt. If there's enough light for them to find the food, water, and litter, that's all they really need. Cats benefit from sunshine like we do, so rather than being concerned about getting too much light, it's better to be concerned about getting too little.

Thanks coaster, your advice makes sense. Although, remember, I was talking about artificial light. If a cat is in room with artifiical lights on all the time (and no sunlight), that woudl have a negative impact on it, right? That makes sense about cats benefitting from the organizing powers of the sun, too.
post #14 of 21
I think feline body language is fascinating, as is canine body language, and I love watching my group and reading what they're saying. When Buffy has her tail up high all the time, you know she's happy, but when she has her tail down low (which is rare, she literally ALWAYS has her tail up high), she's not feeling too happy or confident. When she's squawking at Jake, my dog, in annoyance, but her tail is still straight up and perky, I know she's faking the annoyance (most of it, anyway... Secretly, she loves the attention she gets when she bugs him and pretends it's really Jake who's bugging HER, lol). The only language that baffles me, really, is when Molly and Buffy are "interacting." Buffy hates Molly, has ever since we brought Molly home, but lately they'll play a little. At least, I think it's playing. Molly or Buffy will dash into the kitty tunnel, and the other one will come along and start wiggling her bum (when Buffy does it, I start to wonder if she's finally starting to like Molly). Then the butt-wiggler will pounce at the opening, and the kitty inside will pounce too (she'd have done the butt-wiggling too). But that's when it ends, suddenly both kitties are slapping at each other like they'd do if they were fighting (only there isn't any hissing or growling... Usually...). Then they walk away from each other. Huh.


One thing I read once, regarding dog language, that helps me figure out how the cats and dogs are feeling, is the height of the language. That is, the higher the tail is raised, the more intent the dog is feeling (so if the hackles are raised and the tail is raised high, the dog is feeling more aggressive, and if the ears are down and the tail is raised high, the dog is feeling happy and confident). The lower the tail is lowered, the more intent the sadness/sorrow (in general) the dog is feeling. When the tail is low, he's not confident; when the tail is tucked between his legs, he's frightened. If the tail is somewhere in the middle, straight out from the body, he's happy and confident and relaxed. I didn't say it as well as I read it in the book, but I always look at the tail and ears as an addition to the rest of the body language. Whatever the rest of the body says, the tail and ears give the volume/intensity. On that note, Buffy's tail is always straight up (she's a happy, confident cat), Willow is always down low (she's more skittish and fearful), and Molly's is usually somewhere in between (she loves me and her tail will usually be up high when she's excited about seeing me, but she's fearful of everybody else on Earth).
post #15 of 21
Cats' tails are much the same, but their ears have a much larger vocabulary.

Here's a long but interesting article about cat communication:

http://www.messybeast.com/cat_talk2.htm
post #16 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aussie_Dog View Post
I think feline body language is fascinating, as is canine body language, and I love watching my group and reading what they're saying. When Buffy has her tail up high all the time, you know she's happy, but when she has her tail down low (which is rare, she literally ALWAYS has her tail up high), she's not feeling too happy or confident. When she's squawking at Jake, my dog, in annoyance, but her tail is still straight up and perky, I know she's faking the annoyance (most of it, anyway... Secretly, she loves the attention she gets when she bugs him and pretends it's really Jake who's bugging HER, lol). The only language that baffles me, really, is when Molly and Buffy are "interacting." Buffy hates Molly, has ever since we brought Molly home, but lately they'll play a little. At least, I think it's playing. Molly or Buffy will dash into the kitty tunnel, and the other one will come along and start wiggling her bum (when Buffy does it, I start to wonder if she's finally starting to like Molly). Then the butt-wiggler will pounce at the opening, and the kitty inside will pounce too (she'd have done the butt-wiggling too). But that's when it ends, suddenly both kitties are slapping at each other like they'd do if they were fighting (only there isn't any hissing or growling... Usually...). Then they walk away from each other. Huh.


One thing I read once, regarding dog language, that helps me figure out how the cats and dogs are feeling, is the height of the language. That is, the higher the tail is raised, the more intent the dog is feeling (so if the hackles are raised and the tail is raised high, the dog is feeling more aggressive, and if the ears are down and the tail is raised high, the dog is feeling happy and confident). The lower the tail is lowered, the more intent the sadness/sorrow (in general) the dog is feeling. When the tail is low, he's not confident; when the tail is tucked between his legs, he's frightened. If the tail is somewhere in the middle, straight out from the body, he's happy and confident and relaxed. I didn't say it as well as I read it in the book, but I always look at the tail and ears as an addition to the rest of the body language. Whatever the rest of the body says, the tail and ears give the volume/intensity. On that note, Buffy's tail is always straight up (she's a happy, confident cat), Willow is always down low (she's more skittish and fearful), and Molly's is usually somewhere in between (she loves me and her tail will usually be up high when she's excited about seeing me, but she's fearful of everybody else on Earth).
Yeah, but canine and feline body langauge are SO different -- from complete opposite ends of the communicational spectrum really. The lack of hte collar bone, makes cats almost "snake like" in their dexterity.

In terms of most flexible to most turgid and with core strength, the animals I have interests in go snake, cat, dog, shark (a shark is pretty much just all core, with very little room to twist and tangle it's fins; the opposite of a cat and snake).


haha, see that's "so human" to "fake the annoyance and love the attention". I love those qualities; of course, you could always be overly-reading into it, but cats definitely have great personalities! The tail effect is DEFINITELY a good indicator of mood. Cats are all about body language, (and those 7 types of vocalizations I mentioned in the other article post) to read their mood. We can't help them, heal them, serve them, or provide when we don't know what their mood is. I prefer the lively cat than the lazy disgruntled garfield personality cat (but I love that cartoon -- my first fave).


WOW! That butt-wiggling, tunnel chase, slap fight scene sounds hysterical and equally peculiar and just plain out Wierd! My interpretations is they possible may have felt like they've been "forced to live together' so get along as best as they can, but still tease and pick at each other "beneath the scenes", kind of thing. I can't get over the universal dog personality (almost a constant of just lazy, medium-energy, or high energy) and then the thousands of unique cat personalities.

That's a great generalization: tail height registers with mood intensity. Remember, though, a high, erect tail can mean aggression and/or happiness: it means an intense mood and could mean defensive anger (hopefully it just means happiness); the tail between the legs is definitely the submissive energy; the retreat mode, AFTER The flight/fight response you might get the tail-between the legs, but before it, it's probably going to be alarmed and alert or happy.

The thing with my cat is that it Consistently had a slightly bent tail after about a week of having it. I feared she lost a sense of energy from being around the other cats at the shelter.


That's interesting how your cat's tail is up with you but lowered (more fearful_ around others. That must feel nice to have that connection with your cat!

My kitten was the most social, fearless cat possible, she'd walk upt to anyone and just start jumping playfully at them. Is that normal for kittens? I feared that, with the bent tail thing, that something was wrong because there were moments where her tail went up, after the first weak, but never as strongly. Also, this is wierd. I left the cat and came back to find her collar was off. I was concerned about damage to her neck and got it checked out, but I always heard a little bit of a wierd popping sound whenever she meowed. I hadn't heard cats meow frequently, so I don't know if that was normal; she also purred a LOT and I read purring can indicate pleasure or pain. I felt concerned about that.
post #17 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by coaster View Post
Cats' tails are much the same, but their ears have a much larger vocabulary.

Here's a long but interesting article about cat communication:

http://www.messybeast.com/cat_talk2.htm
You can't say one body language is more important than the other: they're all very evolved and intertwined. You'll understand your cut much more completely by checking the tail, ears, and vocalizations -- those three are the dead give away for what your cat is feeling, wants, needs, etc.
post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by johntkucz View Post
haha, see that's "so human" to "fake the annoyance and love the attention". I love those qualities; of course, you could always be overly-reading into it, but cats definitely have great personalities!
Haha, yeah, I could be overly reading into it, but the whole family says the same thing. Buffy walks around, turning around every now and then to scream at my dog, who's following her. So we yell at Jake and tell him to back up or go away. When he does, he races into the living room and lies down next to the coffee table, head half underneath it so he can still get a good look in the direction of the kitchen, where Buffy is still standing. Then Buffy kind of gets this, "Huh, what now?" look (I'm just guessing that, lol), then she starts walking towards the living room. Then she gets closer to the coffee table. Then she gets to the end, just out Jake's sight, then she turns just a little bit and, wait for it, "Mrowwwwwww!" That's when we realize that she LIKES being stalked by Jake. Well, maybe she doesn't like the stalking part, but she loves the effect that happens afterwards. Back in the day when Jake was still an outdoor dog, Buffy's favorite pasttime was standing on the ledge next to the back door, and peering her head around to the glass pane. If Jake saw her little head, he'd go charging at the door and he'd crash. Buffy, of course, enjoyed that. She also loved just taking a flying leap at the door and grabbing onto the wood just underneath the glass, so that Jake could only hear scrabbling-scratching sounds (her back nails scratching the door). Then he'd see her head peek up from the bottom of the glass. Again, Jake would charge and crash. Buffy would do this for forever until someone came to check out what all the racket was.

Quote:
WOW! That butt-wiggling, tunnel chase, slap fight scene sounds hysterical and equally peculiar and just plain out Wierd! My interpretations is they possible may have felt like they've been "forced to live together' so get along as best as they can, but still tease and pick at each other "beneath the scenes", kind of thing.
You're most likely right there. When we got Molly, we thought we would have her for only a few days (she was so mellow and quite and gentle and sweet, the perfect little kitty. SOMEONE had to be missing her, right?). So we didn't do the proper introductions, we just let Molly roam where she wanted, and that PISSED OFF Buffy and Willow. When it turned out that nobody was missing Molly, and that we were going to keep her, Willow began to accept her (a month after Molly's arrival). But Buffy has never known any other cat than Willow, and since she was an orphan baby (they tend to be more opinionated and bossy, or so the general concensus is), she just absolutely refuses to accept Molly. She's getting better and better, though; she no longer growls if Molly so much as walks across her path. It's been almost two years since we got Molly, and what with the little progress we've made so far, I'm hopeful that Molly and Buffy may become friends in another 5 years, lol. But for now, we're just leaving them alone and not rushing them together. We'll see what happens.

Quote:
That's interesting how your cat's tail is up with you but lowered (more fearful_ around others. That must feel nice to have that connection with your cat!
Oh my, it IS nice! Molly is so sweet and gentle and loving with me, that I was honest to goodness shocked the first time my family told me she never acts that way with them. I just couldn't believe it. My Molly, NOT sweet and gentle and loving? No way! But it's true, she's more reserved with everyone else, if she hasn't decided to run away from them. I think that her original home must have been abusive, as she sometimes runs even from me if I walk straight at her (and right before she runs from ANYONE, she watches your feet. I'm thinking her past owner must have been a kicker). But regardless, I think she's naturally a one-person kind of cat. Once in a while, she'll lay on my sister's lap while we're watching TV, but she definitely prefers me. It's a great feeling, though it also sucks that I'm the only one who truely knows Molly's personality. Everyone else only knows that she's timid and gentle, and loves to eat.
post #19 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aussie_Dog View Post
Haha, yeah, I could be overly reading into it, but the whole family says the same thing. Buffy walks around, turning around every now and then to scream at my dog, who's following her. So we yell at Jake and tell him to back up or go away. When he does, he races into the living room and lies down next to the coffee table, head half underneath it so he can still get a good look in the direction of the kitchen, where Buffy is still standing. Then Buffy kind of gets this, "Huh, what now?" look (I'm just guessing that, lol), then she starts walking towards the living room. Then she gets closer to the coffee table. Then she gets to the end, just out Jake's sight, then she turns just a little bit and, wait for it, "Mrowwwwwww!" That's when we realize that she LIKES being stalked by Jake. Well, maybe she doesn't like the stalking part, but she loves the effect that happens afterwards. Back in the day when Jake was still an outdoor dog, Buffy's favorite pasttime was standing on the ledge next to the back door, and peering her head around to the glass pane. If Jake saw her little head, he'd go charging at the door and he'd crash. Buffy, of course, enjoyed that. She also loved just taking a flying leap at the door and grabbing onto the wood just underneath the glass, so that Jake could only hear scrabbling-scratching sounds (her back nails scratching the door). Then he'd see her head peek up from the bottom of the glass. Again, Jake would charge and crash. Buffy would do this for forever until someone came to check out what all the racket was.
Sounds like they have a great cat-and-mouse, playful hunting, healthy dynamic. But Buffy certainly appears to be quite a trickster, playfully manipulative prankster, too!
post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aussie_Dog View Post
(they tend to be more opinionated and bossy, or so the general concensus is), she just absolutely refuses to accept Molly. She's getting better and better, though; she no longer growls if Molly so much as walks across her path. It's been almost two years since we got Molly, and what with the little progress we've made so far, I'm hopeful that Molly and Buffy may become friends in another 5 years, lol. But for now, we're just leaving them alone and not rushing them together. We'll see what happens.
Wow, sounds like that's one obdurate cat! How does she "not accept" molly? Always growl at her? won't go near her?
post #21 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aussie_Dog View Post
Oh my, it IS nice! Molly is so sweet and gentle and loving with me, that I was honest to goodness shocked the first time my family told me she never acts that way with them. I just couldn't believe it. My Molly, NOT sweet and gentle and loving? No way! But it's true, she's more reserved with everyone else, if she hasn't decided to run away from them. I think that her original home must have been abusive, as she sometimes runs even from me if I walk straight at her (and right before she runs from ANYONE, she watches your feet. I'm thinking her past owner must have been a kicker). But regardless, I think she's naturally a one-person kind of cat. Once in a while, she'll lay on my sister's lap while we're watching TV, but she definitely prefers me. It's a great feeling, though it also sucks that I'm the only one who truely knows Molly's personality. Everyone else only knows that she's timid and gentle, and loves to eat.
Molly sounds like quite the character. So many factors go into selective, preferential leniancy to humans from cats. LIke you suggested, previous owner antics (kicking, abusing while wearing certain colors-clothes, smells, etc. all shape a cat's already highly personalized experience!
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