Hello, Cat Lovers!
Shortly after my partner and I adopted our two cats, our fluffy black cat, Mambo, decided that I am his special human. Mambo rarely lets my partner—or anyone else—pet him, but he follows me everywhere, trilling to greet me, rubbing his cheek on my hand, sitting on my stuff, watching me work, and leaning against me on the couch. He also loves it when I bring out his puzzle toys and clicker and treats for games. I did not expect to get this much attention from a cat, so I joked with friends that Mambo was behaving like a dog.
I will never forget my cat behaviorist friend’s peeved response: “No, he is behaving like a CAT!”
I was a new cat owner at the time (after living with a dog for thirteen years), and I had started questioning the popular belief that cats are less sociable and trainable than dogs. It seems that for every meme there is about dogs being our best friends, there is one about cats being aloof, weird, or murderous.
While it’s true that, as a species, cats are solitary predators, the latest scientific evidence confirms what many of us already know from experience: cats are socially flexible creatures who get attached to their humans (like kittens to their mothers) and have their own ways of expressing affection and trust or their need for “alone time.”
At the time of writing this book, there isn’t as much scientific data on cat body language as there is for dogs, however, there is still plenty of proven research that shows us how cats communicate. Why are my cats rubbing their faces on the corner of the wall and scratching everywhere? Do my cats want to be petted, or do they need space? Is my cat feeling confident, frightened, relaxed, or frustrated? Are my cats playing or fighting? Being able to see and interpret cat body language is the first step to making your kitties feel safe and happy in your home.
So, what should you look for? Cats signal their moods and feelings with every part of their body: their face, eyes, ears, whiskers, and tail; their changing postures; and the direction and speed of their movements. But you need to look at more than any single body part or pose to really know what a cat is saying. If a cat with an arched back and bristly tail is retreating and hissing, they’re probably terrified. On the other hand, if they’re bouncing and skipping sideways, they might be feeling playful.
Learning to recognize cat body language is about observing movements in context and understanding the connection between behavior and the bigger picture. Writing and illustrating this little book has opened my eyes to the ways my cats talk to each other and to me, and it has given me a new appreciation for the sensitive, intelligent, and expressive animals they—and all cats—are. I hope reading Kitty Language
does the same for you.
Copyright © 2023 by Lili Chin. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.