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How Do Cats Communicate?

Updated: August 11, 2022 by Kristen Chapple

Though they seem so independent and mysterious, cats are in fact very expressive and communicative, not only among themselves, but also with us, humans. So if you’re wondering how cats communicate, you should know that they’ve got many ways to do that, despite what we might think.

While we focus more on spoken language, cats communicate by body language more often than not, through a complicated and precise system of subtle signs that we won’t pick up easy if we don’t make any effort to decipher it. But if and when we do, we’ll understand our little friends a lot better.

So How Do Cats Communicate

Their main form of communication is body language, which can be so exact and transmit everything they want to, from moods to what they like or dislike. Their gestures, poses, movement, ear positions, looks or tail movements, they all express something. And since they see us as just some bigger… fellow cats, they might try to communicate with us as well.

The other ways cats communicate are through smell, sound, visual messages and by touch.

Body language

The body language of a cat tells many things about her mood, about what she’s up to or what she wants. To understand how cats communicate through their bodies, you need to take into consideration the combination of all her movements and poses, her eyes and ears and tail signs.

While it can be a little complicated to spot all these subtleties a cat can have, paying attention will tell you a lot. Ears will notify if your little friend is alert, irritated, happy or interested in something. The tail shows a lot of these signs as well. Dilated pupils and ears folded back show that your little friend is afraid, while rolling on her back means she’s comfortable and she’s inviting you for some more interaction.


Another important form of communication for cats is through smell, or scent. Scent is a way for them to identify themselves among other cats. Smelling is how they learn about the environment, and marking it by rubbing against and leaving their scent on various things around is how they communicate back.


The sounds they make, from that ‘meow’ to hissing or purring are yet other means of getting your or other cat’s attention to their needs or the moods they’re in at that very moment.


If you’re wondering why does your cat scratches your new comfy leather sofa, it’s because she’s trying to leave visual cues for other cats. It seems that the more confident a cat is, the more she’ll do that in front of other, shyer cats. And since they see us humans as their bigger fellow cats, oh well… you get the point.


Rubbing against various things or even against you is a way of marking their territory. What that means is that she considers herself to be the owner and not the other way around.

Don’t take it personally. Remember when she started kneading you? Well, that means your kitty is very happy and loves you. As her property that is.

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