9 Cat behaviours and how humans should respond!

9 Cat behaviours and how humans should respond!

Pet Psychology

Cat do have some very strange habits, body language and language. This is a look at what each means and how they can affect the owner. It is a light-hearted Pets4Homes article, that every cat owner will be able to relate to!

Before you can begin to understand your cat and almost act in a way they will understand, you need to learn some of their body language and what they are trying to tell you. Only by recognising these signs, will you be able to know when to strike up a conversation or remain silent, as they will probably ignore you anyway. Like their nine lives here are the 9 body languages and actions to be aware of…

1. Meowing

Cats would not normally meow at another cat as they have many other ways to communicate with their species). Meowing is just one of several conditions they use to communicate with us humans.

What it means:

A cat being vocal can take many pitches from low and pitiful ‘feed me’ to screaming ‘feed me now!’. If the cat is in pain, it can be accompanied by the owner/nearest person having a feeling of a sudden pain if they are within striking range of the cat’s claws.

What the cat wants/expects:

This meowing requires immediate action from the human. It can be opening the desired cat food and serving, the cat may want you to open a door so they can go through it, but do not get comfortable as they will require it opened again as soon as you do. If the sound is because of pain response, firstly check the placement of your foot in relation to their tail or paw. Secondly, attend to your scratched legs/feet.

2. Hissing

This is your cat doing a very good impression sound of an aerosol spray being used. The noise may also be followed with a low growling noise, and it is mostly accompanied by flattened ears and wide eyes and a menacing flicking of the tail.

What it means:

This is an early warning sign to leave me alone!

What the cat wants/expects:

For your own safety, here you must listen to your cats’ request. Failure might result in a visit to the local emergency department. Do not try to pacify them, especially by stroking as this can make them worse. By following the cat’s request carefully they will eventually calm down from whatever it is that has wound them up. This cooling downtime can be speeded up, by the deployment of a treat to take their mind off things.

3. Chirping

You may have thought only birds chirp, but cats do as well. It’s a strange sound that is almost like a meow and purr simultaneously. Think the Gremlins movie and the sound made by Gizmo!

What it means:

This means your cat is very interested in something, it could be you as their owner, a catnip toy, however, it is likely to be food related.

What the cat wants/expects:

Our advice is to take full advantage of your cat's interest, it could be the only time you see them awake in the day. If it’s a toy then take the time to play with them, if it is about cat food then feed them if it’s dinnertime. If it’s not, they may revert to point 1! Don’t give in - there are too many obese cats already.

4. Washes over the ears

As part of their grooming time, cats lick their front paws and then scrub their face and ears with them.

What it means:

It is a totally normal part of the cat cleaning themselves. This action is often performed with the cat facing away from their owner, ignoring them as much as they can.

What the cat wants/expects:

This action usually starts the owner saying, “No don’t do that” to the cat, with the fear of it raining for hours on end due to the old superstition (Google it). The cat will sometimes stop for a second, then carry on, not wanting to have dirty ears.

5. Biting

Cats will bite any moving thing, this is a learned behaviour taken from the very earliest times in the wild as hunting animals. Sometimes it is for a kill, other times it is to purely maim their enemy.

What it means:

In cats it is a natural hunting instinct and cannot be ‘unlearnt’ it also means they will mostly eat what they catch be it mice, birds or insects. Cats have evolved to survive, even when the can opener has broken they won’t go hungry.

What the cat wants/expects:

If the cat brings the owner the creature they have caught and it is still alive, a special thing happens. The owner normally turns into the hunter instead of the cat - as they try and find where the present has run to. Under the fridge is a favourite place.

If you do receive a cat bite, even if they didn’t mean it as they thought you were prey – wash it thoroughly and apply antiseptic to the wound. A visit to your doctor for antibiotics is also not out of the question - especially if it becomes red and inflamed.

6. Putting bottom in the air

When you stroke your cat, as you get part way down their back up goes the real-end, protruding into in the air.

What it means:

This is actually a very good bit of body language. The cat has accepted you and is in a good mood! In cat terms this means they trust you, the tail is straight up, and bottom raised.

What the cat doesn’t tell you, is that it is, in fact, a cat invitation to sniff their butt, just like a dog would do to another dog.

What the cat wants/expects:

Cat’s accepting you like this means more stroking along the back and normally pushing the tail down, telling the cat, “I do not want your bottom in my face”. This will probably insult the cat who will walk away in a huff.

7. Face rubbing

This is a very common action. They will use anything to rub their faces over including your hands, legs and furniture or anything near enough. Some get so carried away, they look like they are trying to bash their own teeth in.

What it means:

It is a marking of their territory; cats have scent glands in their cheeks (and paws). By rubbing their cheeks on things, they are marking it as theirs. The scent contains feline pheromones and makes the cat feel reassured in their own territory. It is often seen before being fed, to ward off other cats that might try and hijack the kitchen.

What the cat wants/expects:

The owner should be ready for face scent marked, normally whenever the cat feels like it. By offering the hand to mark, the cat can turn on the charm. In their eyes, this language can lead to food, which is their ultimate aim.

8. Pawing at the food area

This is not always an action the owner sees, it usually happens when the cat is part of a multi-cat household. The cat scrapes the area around their food bowl with their paws, before walking off.

What it means:

Much like the last point, the cat is marking their territory and food area saying, “Leave this food alone!”, leaving their scent from the paws.

It’s basically a warning to other cats in the house, or any predator (as it would be the wild), that might try and steal any food that’s left.

What the cat wants/expects:

The cat here can really end up confused. An owner may think the cat is about to go to the toilet and bend down and put them quickly outside or into the litter tray, just because they are scraping.

Cats have more respect and would never go to the toilet by their food!

9. Blinking – eyes half-closed

Cat’s eyes are amazing! They are so bright– they help road users all the time! Actually, your own cat is no exception – their eyes can give an indication of their mood too, especially if they are half closed when looking directly at you.

What it means:

Far from giving you death stares, half-closed eyes on your cat mean they are contented. This should be enjoyed by the owner as the fickle cat can easily change its mind. Cue the death stares.

What the cat wants/expects:

To enhance the cat’s contentment the owner should give more fuss, stroking and tickling the cat. Much, more importantly, give them the best part of the sofa and the softest cushions. Keeping the cat warm is also very important. The owner may even witness more half-closed eyes.

So, in all seriousness, cats are very intelligent and lovely creatures. They might drive you mad, but they are a lovely companion. If you find yourself worried by any of the behaviours of your cat, please speak to your vet or a qualified animal behaviourist. Above all learn about your cat and enjoy them.

Newsletter icon
Get free tips and resources delivered directly to your inbox.


Pets for StudWanted Pets

Accessories & services


Knowledge Hub


Support & Safety Portal
All Pets for Sale