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Feline Body Language

Canine Body Language


 Cat Behavior Library  

Understanding Normal Cat Body Language

Each behavior may have different meaning, depending on the circumstance and context. Here is an outline of possible meanings for each feline species specific behavior.

May occur when in pain or just before dying
Seeking companionship
Feline Greeting Postures
  Many cats roll to greet
Exposing vulnerable belly is a sign of trust
Feline Greeting Postures - Tail
  The friendly tail is up, and curved at the tip
Feline Greeting Postures – Body and Tail Together
  The curved tail says "friendly interest"
The arched back is an invitation to pet
Feline Greeting Postures – Head Rubbing
Pheromone Production
  Cheek Glands – just above each lip
Tends to rub/mark objects with cheeks
Pre-auricular Glands = just in front of each ear
Tends to rub/mark beings with head
This is the basis for "Feliway" product
"Attentive Anxious"
  Eyes focused
Ears forward focused
Whiskers forward
Weight on rear quarters for rapid response
Tail twitching
Defensive Postures
Cat attempts to look BIGGER
  Arched back
Fluffed tail
Look at leg position
  Full extension = confident
Crouched low = insecure, fearful
Defensive Aggression - Pariah threat posture
  Low ranking threatened cat
Crouched front legs
Ears back
Teeth bared
Sign of fear and insecurity
Defensive Aggression - "Lateral Threat" Posture
  Cat uses every possible technique to appear larger:
Arched back
Turns to side
Defensive Postures
Full defensive aggressive posture
  Laying on back
Teeth bared
Front and rear claws exsheathed and ready
Tail switching for balance and communicating stress
Offensive Aggression
  Eye to eye
Ears forward
Tails out and back - swishing for balance and communication
Low center of gravity
Forward whiskers
Flehmen Posturing
  "Volmeronasal Organ" is a secondary olfactory system
Odors enter near the hard palate inside the mouth
Used for special odors like urine or reproductive
Urine Marking "Spraying"
  Cat backs up to target
Tail is straight up and quivering
Small amounts of urine are sprayed up and out to mark object
Marking – Scratching Or Urine
  Pads contain pheromones
Claw scratching adds visual component
Marking Territory With Paws
  Leaves scent mark from pads
Plus visual mark from claws
Also satisfies need for stretching
Practicing Prey Nape Bite
Special bite strategy
  Practiced from kittenhood
Attack prey just behind skull
Immobilizes prey
Explains chattering by indoor cats near a window
Female Reproductive Behavior
  When in proestrus, female secretes pheromones, but rebuffs advances
After entering estrus, will select most attractive male and allow advance
After first male, will solicit second, third etc. until all acceptable males have mated multiple times
Female Reproductive Posture
  Male is selected
Female in estrus assumes "lordosis" pose
Tail to the side
Presents ano-genital area for sniffing
Male Reproductive Posture
  Tom does neck bite to stabilize female and protect self
Treading and stepping movements position pelvis for coitus
Male Reproductive Behavior
  After each ejaculation, males experience a latent period of 5-15 minutes
Female begins rolling and soliciting male
Introducing a new female increases enthusiasm, decreases latent period
Males may copulate up to 15x in 24 hours, multiple females
Females may breed every male multiple times
Why do cats eat grass?
  Acts as a natural laxative
Provides chlorophyll for digestion
Increased grass ingestion when nauseous
Binds with foreign material for expulsion
Irritates stomach lining, promoting vomiting of noxious material
Why do cats play with prey?
Part of hunt routine
Practice for inexperienced hunters
Teach kittens to hunt
  Bring live prey to kittens
Let it go, and let kittens try
Bring it back so kittens can practice
This is basis of cats who retrieve toys
Why do cats hiss and spit?
  Evolutionary deceptive strategy
Mimic a snake?
Ears back, molded into head
Curving body and tail
Striped body
Hiss and spit
How do cats "find their way home"
  Study done in England with "blindfolded cats in a van"
Theory: Bio-magnetic particles

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