Cats can sometimes seem like aliens from another planet! For those of us who share our homes with these strange creatures, it can seem impossible to understand them. They do however have some common, universal behaviours that can be decoded and I am here to help you decipher them!
Some of these signs include flicking of the tail, skin twitching, tongue flicking, and ear flattening. If she didn’t want to be petted anymore and just ran away, that would be a very clear sign that she was unhappy, but cats are usually much more cryptic. However, if she stuck around then that might mean she still wants contact, just in a different way.
Many cats have “no-touch” zones on their bodies and will react strongly if these are trespassed upon. For example, my cat loves to be scratched around his face and head, but hates to have his belly touched (this is a common “no-touch” area for cats). When cats groom each other, they tend to focus on the head and neck, so it makes sense these areas are where petting is more acceptable.
To better understand, or decode, your cat, I think we need to understand their basic needs. A primary need for cats is the need to hunt. You can help reduce stress in your cat’s life by instituting daily play sessions that mimic hunting.
There are many cat toys available to help with simulated hunting. I like the No Bowl feeding system, but there are many options out there. If your cat doesn’t play easily, don’t give up! Continue to try different toys, you can even get some great ideas for DIY cat toys on websites like Pinterest.
While cats may not be as easy to read as our canine companions, they make a lovely addition to most households. Understanding what they are feeling and thinking can go a long way to making sure that everyone is getting the most out of the relationship.
Dr. Juanita Ashton, BSc, DVM, ACDBC-IAABC is a certified Canine Behavioural Consultant, and one of the owners of the Elmsdale Animal Hospital