Cats have a distinctive and consistent language that doesn't vary much from breed to breed, although some varieties of cats, like the Siamese, do tend to be more vocal.  Whether you are blessed with a purebred or you share your home with a stray that adopted you, you'll find these signals invaluable in helping you understand what your pet is saying to you.



Purring is just one of the ways which cats communicate.  Experts seem to be constantly debating all of the hows and why of purring, but any cat owner will tell you that it's the sound of a contented cat!  Experts have also stated that cats purr when they are sick or injured.  They purr when they are dying unless death comes suddenly and unexpectedly.

    The Meow, The Yowl, The Screech,
       And Hissing

The meows can mean a number of things.  They can be loud and demanding, or short and sweet.  Tiny mews are carry-overs from kitten hood.  Cats use this very effective ploy to get what they want.

 At the other end of this wide vocal range is that out-and-out yowl that grates on the ears and the nerves.  Translated:  "I WANT IT NOW!"

The screech is a sound that pierces your very soul!  It's a high-pitched banshee wail that is calculated to scare off any opponent.  If one cat doesn't retreat from the face-off, the caterwauling can go on for hours.  It is an energizing, courage-mustering ploy that's similar to the yell of a karate expert as he delivers a blow!

Hissing is another unmistakable sound.  When you hear that, you know that your cat is telling you that it means business and you'd better back off!   It translates as "I'm ready for trouble, so you'd better not mess around!"  A few cat experts have suggested that this is the cat's way of imitating a snake, but most professionals don't agree.  Hissing, more likely, is a cat's very own Defensive Early Warning System!

  Tail Tips

  Each movement of a cat's tail sends out a signal that we, as humans, can

  A tail that is slightly raised and softly curved indicates that the cat is becoming  interested in something.  When you are training your cat, you'll know if  it is  catching on by watching it's tail react.

A tail that is held very erect but with the tip tilted over shows that the cat is curious, but has certain reservations.  It is somewhat puzzled.

A tail that is fully erect, with the tip stiffly vertical, shows an intense greeting  signal with no reservations.

When the tail is held still but with the tip twitching, it means that the cat is mildly irritated.  If the tip twitching becomes more pronounced--watch out!  This cat is  getting angry.

When a female holds her tail over to one side, she's in heat.  The tail held askew  is a sexual invitation to the tomcat, who then knows he can mount her without  fear of reprisal.

When the tail is arched and bristled, the cat is firmly in a defensive mode and is preparing to respond to a threat or an attack.  This, again, is a strong signal of  potential danger.  If the cat continues to feel provoked, an attack will follow.