While there are some things your cat does that you understand, there are probably way more sounds and behaviors that you don’t have a clue what they mean. Here are some of the top cat sounds and behaviors decoded.

Meowing
This is the only word your cat knows how to say, so it can mean a whole slew of things. Is he hungry? Does she want to be pet? Are they just making noise for the sake of it? It can be hard to tell, but pay attention to the context and the tone of the meow. After a while, you may hear different sound patterns in your cat’s meows and eventually realize what they mean.

Purring
Most of the time, cat purrs are a sign of happiness or contentment. You may notice that your cat purrs when being pet. It’s because she’s happy. Sometimes, however, purring can be a noise cats make to comfort themselves if they’re stressed, anxious or in pain. Listen for a deep, internal purr that may signify your cat is distressed.

Hissing
Hissing is not a good noise when coming from a cat. It means the cat is annoyed, scared, angry or aggressive. This is not a happy cat, and you’ll do best to leave a hissing cat alone.

Howling
If your cat is howling and screaming, it is unhappy and distressed. It could be in pain, stuck somewhere or otherwise upset. In unsprayed or unneutered cats (spay and neuter your pets, please!), this could be a mating sound.

Kneading
If your cat is kneading his front paws, or moving them like he’s making bread, it’s probably a sign that he’s happy. Kittens often knead when nursing, and it’s a relaxing and comforting motion for your cat.

Rubbing
You may notice that your cat sometimes comes and rubs against you. You may think he’s showing affection and letting you know that he loves you. That’s probably true, but he’s also covering you with his scent and letting the world know that you are his. They also rub up against furniture, walls, shoes and anything else within reach. Leg rubbing can also be your cat asking for your attention.

Ear Positions
Where your cat’s ears are facing and how they’re moving are good indicators of her mood. If they’re facing forward and pointing straight up, there’s something that has your cat’s attention that he’s interested in. If they’re pointing backwards or sideways and flat against his head, he’s angry or frightened. He may also be crouching or walking lower to the ground.

Tail Signs
Your cat also uses his tail to communicate, as well. If it’s straight out and the fur is lying flat, he’s perfectly happy and content. If his fur is standing on end on his tail, it’s probably standing up on his back, too, indicating that he’s frightened or mad. If it’s low or hanging between her legs, she’s afraid or anxious about something.

Understanding your cat doesn’t have to be difficult. Give your cat time, love and affection, and soon you’ll be better able to understand his sounds and behaviors.

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