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How Cats Communicate

There is a lot you might know about your cat, but did you know that your cat can communicate with you? While those high pitch “mews,” your kitten used to squeal with were mainly directed at her mother and litter mates, research shows that as your kitten matured her meowing was directed to her humans more than her fellow felines.

In fact, scientists say that cats use visual and vocal signals interchangeably to get attention from their humans and ask for what they want.

According to eight years of research and analysis of over 70 cats and their owners, Susanne Schötz, Reader in Phonetics at Lund University's Centre for Languages and Literature in Sweden found that a cat can imitate melody patterns and inflection in it’s humans’ voice as a means of better communicating. For example, if a cat meows with a melody ending in an upward note when he is sitting by his bowl, he is most likely asking for food. A long, low meow could signify feelings of distress, worry or even sadness. Your cat may also growl or hiss to demonstrate her feelings of being threatened by an unknown human or other animal nearby and to tell anyone or anything in her close proximity to back off.

Cats will use body brushes and purrs as means of communication as well. Body brushes and purrs specifically could indicate your cat’s need for affection from you, or a show of her love for you. Your cat might even paw at you gently to get your attention or to ask you for a scratch behind her ear. Researchers also say that cats and their humans create a sort of language specific to the pair, and that cats respond better to women’s voices, because women typically have higher-pitched voices than men.

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