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How to Communicate With Your Cat

How to Communicate With Your Cat
Scientists have discovered that cats have developed an elaborate communication system with hundreds of vocalizations to tell humans what they want.[1] They know that we are in charge, so it makes sense for the cat to learn to communicate vocally, and to make sure that we understand what they are saying. Cats can also learn to understand what we want them to do by our repetition of words or actions in a consistent manner.[2] In this way, we are able to communicate with cats in a dialogue that takes time and effort to develop but is very rewarding for both.
[edit] Steps

   1. Remember that vocalizing is not your cat's preferred mode of communication. A cat's "first language" consists of a complex system of scent, facial expression, complex body language, and touch whereas we humans communicate primarily through sound. Cats soon realize that we don't understand the non-verbal signals they send to each other, so they vocalize in an attempt to communicate in our language. By observing which sounds elicit which actions from us, a cat is always learning how to make requests (or demands).[3]
   2. Listen to your cat. If you watch what your cat is doing when it meows, you may learn to distinguish which meows are associated with which requests (or protests) and eventually know the difference between a "let me out" demand and a "give me food" demand by sound alone.[4] Each cat is different and may have its own variations, but some common meows can include:

          * Short meow - standard greeting.
          * Multiple meows - excited greeting.
          * Mid-pitch meow - plea for something.
          * Drawn-out mrrroooow - a demand for something.
          * Low pitch MRRRooooowww - a complaint
          * High-pitch RRRROWW! - anger or pain.
          * Chatter (rapid teeth-chattering jaw movements) - excitement, frustration (e.g. when prey is out of reach or escapes)
          * Chirrup (a cross between a meow and a purr with rising inflection) - friendly greeting sound
          * Purr - invites close contact or attention
   3. Watch your cat. Since cats are more "fluent" in body language, certain gestures will accompany vocalizations to reinforce their message.

          * tail straight up - happy
          * tail twitching - excited or anxious
          * slowly blinking eyes - affection, equivalent of "blowing a kiss"

                o sustained eye contact is interpreted as being assertive or even aggressive and makes cats uncomfortable; slow blinking communicates trust[5]
          * ears back - alarmed
          * rubbing head, flank and tail against a person or animal - greeting ritual
          * head-butting - friendliness, affection
          * face sniffing - confirming identity
          * ears back and flattened - fearful and anxious
   4. Talk back. As mentioned earlier, cats are always learning how to communicate with us; the more we communicate with them, the faster they'll learn.[6]

          * Use a slightly raised tone of voice to indicate friendliness and a lowered tone of voice to indicate displeasure or aggression.[7]
          * Repeat the same word, sleep or bed, each time you go to bed, and eventually your cat will begin to associate the repetitive word sound with your actions, and may even get to the bedroom before you.
            Use the word shower consistently each time you are ready to take one, and eventually your cat may beat you to the bathroom and might even curl up in the sink to wait for you.
          * If you blink slowly when making eye contact with your cat, they will usually respond by coming over to be petted, as it is a very non-threatening gesture.
   5. Be consistent. For example, a cat often "asks" before invading another's space and a common blunder many pet owners make is to say "no" but pet the cat at the same time. This is very confusing to the cat. Instead, a very quick "no" combined with gently but firmly pushing the cat away from you, without showing affection, will let the cat know that their presence is not desired at this time. Most cats will try 2-3 times to invade a person's space, often from different directions. Be patient when saying "no" to them.

          * If they do something you do not approve of, spray them lightly with water. Eventually all you will have to do is pick up the spray bottle, and they will stop.
          * A can of compressed air can be used as an alternative to water, it'll make less mess of the house and makes a loud hissing noise cats don't like
          * Alternatively, if you object to the method of spraying your cat with water you can also develop a "command tone" to use with your cat when they are doing something seriously wrong. Use a voice that comes naturally to you, that you can replicate easily, but that is also distinct from your everyday talking voice. If you use this voice sparingly, but seriously, then your cat will learn to associate the voice with the idea that they are being naughty.
          * Another easy "no" command that cats all understand is a quick, sharp, hiss or "spit" sound as is made by their own kind when they themselves say "no".

[edit] Tips

    * Treat your cat with love and respect and they will become a very happy and loving companion and friend. Talk to them softly and watch how they listen.
    * With patience cats can be trained to respond to commands, much the same as dogs. You can even teach your cat to shake your hand.
    * Siamese cats have been observed to be especially "talkative", while long-haired cats tend to be on the quieter side.[8] But of course, there are always exceptions!

[edit] Warnings

    * This is not, by any means, a complete list of cat gestures and vocalizations. The feline communication system is surprisingly complex and extends beyond the scope of this article. Consult the sources below for more details, and always pay attention to your cat - every one is different.
    * Urinating, spraying and maddening (depositing feces in a prominent spot) are often a cat's attempt to mark territory that it feels is being threatened.[9] It may also be an indication of urinary tract or bladder infection, or other serious health issue. If this is a problem, the cat may need to be treated, neutered or spayed, or separated from other cats. Consult your vet.
    * Never yell at or physically discipline a cat. This only frightens and angers them, and is counterproductive.

[edit] Related wikiHows

    * How to Teach Your Cat to Give a Handshake
    * How to Teach Your Kitten to be Calm and Relaxed
    * How to Litter Box Train Your Kitten
    * How to Trim Your Cat's Nails
    * How to Get Your Cat to Sleep With You
    * How to Get Your Cat to Stand Up
    * How to Get a Cat As a Teen
    * How to Litter Train a Kitten
    * How to Choose Your Cat
    * How to Choose Safe Pet Food
    * How to Tame a Feral Cat

[edit] Sources and Citations

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