Cats are known for clawing at drapes and knocking over anything within their reach. This behaviour can be seen as annoying mischief, but specialists suggest there is a deeper meaning. This kind of conduct isn’t a way to feed their animal instincts, it’s just your cat demanding attention, they say.
‘Unlike dogs or cows that we’ve domesticated, cats are self-domesticated and don’t need humans to survive,’ Dr. Eric Doughtery of The Cat Practice said.
‘Cats use us and this is just a way of them getting what they want, which is probably to be fed or it could be their way of them telling us they’re ill.’
Doughtery explained that when cats hunt they go after small, fast objects that they see whizzing across the floor, not stationary objects on a table top or shelf.
‘There are things that can be done to stop or minimize this kind of behavior,’ said Doughtery.
‘Just know that cats are creatures of habit and any changes in their environment can make them upset.’
Vet Gary Weitzman, author of How To Speak Cat, said: ‘Cats only vocalize to people.
There are probably one to two dozen different vocalizations per cat that we would classify as ‘meow.’
‘However, you couldn’t get a Webster’s dictionary … and define those meows, because they’re individual for every single cat.’
Dr Weitzman said cats use their meows to ‘train’ humans into fulfilling their every wish, with different meows to say ‘feed me’, ‘stroke me’ or ‘let me out’ You know what they’re asking you for because they’ve trained you,’ the Californian told US news website Salon.
‘The difference between cats and dogs is that we can train both species but, for the most part, we train dogs to respond to what we want them to do.
Cats, on the other hand, actually train us to respond to what they want us to do.’
He added: ‘You can’t translate a particular meow as being universal for all cats, but every cat will make up to two dozen meow vocalizations that mean specific and consistent things – the favorite being the 4.30am ‘gimme breakfast’.’
Dr Weitzman has also decoded the non-vocal ways cats talk to us.
For instance, extending their tails straight up equates to a human handshake, while a slow blink is akin to a peck on the cheek or a wink between friends.
Head butting and licking are also signs of affection.
When a cat is happy its whiskers are naturally extended out to the side.
But if your cat flattens its ears you might want to stay away, as this means it is scared or preparing for a fight.