If your cat could talk like Garfield, what would be said? Let’s look at 10 things your cat wants you to know.
10. I’m Better Indoors.
Cats are historically wild, outdoor animals, but with domestication and industrialization, cats are much safer indoors. As caretakers, our charge is to provide the stimulation our cats would get in the outdoors, but in a safe environment. It can be done! For indoor enrichment ideas, click here.
9. I Miss You!
Cats are often described as solitary, and though they are definitely more independent than dogs, they don’t enjoy being left alone all the time.
Some cats can even show signs of separation anxiety, such as incessant meowing or damage inflicted to items around the home. Your cat may be able to spend a day without you, but if you leave for the weekend, even if they are an independent cat, it is more than likely that they will miss you and this will cause them stress.
8. I Don’t Just Want To Scratch, I NEED to!
(And I’m definitely not trying to ruin your stuff.) Cats need a proper scratching post. As the Humane Society of the United States notes, the purpose behind scratching is multifold: cats scratch to remove the dead outer layer of their claws, mark their territory by leaving both a visual mark and a scent (they have scent glands on their paws), and to stretch their bodies and flex their feet and claws. They scratch when they’re excited, like when you come home from work, after naps, and to claim their space. Fail to provide an approved-by-you outlet for this natural and necessary behavior and your cat will find somewhere else to exercise this instinctive action – like your couch. If your cat is still scratching on furniture when you’ve provided a scratching post, try moving the post’s location, play with your cat on it, and shower her with praise when she does it right.
7. I Need Vertical Space To Explore.
Cats are naturally inclined to climb and perch up high in order to survey their territory. Make sure your cat has a perch of some sort or, ideally, an elevated walkway or series of perches that allows her to survey her domain from on high. If you live in a smaller space like an apartment, having vertical space for your cat to climb and explore becomes particularly important.
6. I Don’t Like The Litter Box Situation.
If you notice your cat is peeing or pooping outside of the litter box, it may be your pet’s way of saying she doesn’t like something about her current litter pan set up, such as the location. If there are multiple cats or pets in the home, this behavior could also signal that there is too much competition for the litter box, or that your cat is afraid she might be chased or attacked while using it.
Your cat might also be trying to tell you the pan is too dirty for her liking. Experts recommend cleaning the litter box at least once per day – more often if you have multiple cats in your home – and experimenting with different litters. If your home hosts multiple cats, adding another litter box may be an easy fix to make your felines more comfortable. Veterinary behaviorists recommend having one more box than cats in the house.
Urinating or defecating outside the litterbox can also be a sign that your cat is stressed. Make sure your cat has a place where he or she can hide away from other cats or people, and place food, water, and litter in a quiet, low traffic area. You can also utilize feline pheromone spray on your cat’s bedding and litter boxes to lower stress levels. If the problem persists, contact your veterinarian.
5. I’m Not As Hungry As I Tell You I Am.
Cats are amazing at pretending to be hungrier than they are. They know they have you wrapped around their little paws; experience has taught them that. But where food is concerned, your devotion to indulging their wants is not in their favor. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, more than 50 percent of U.S. cats are obese or overweight; that’s over 47 million fat cats – and they’re not feeding themselves. Despite overweight cats becoming the norm, feline obesity is no joke. It can cause diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and even cancer. Consult your vet in determining proper amounts of food to feed and stick to your guns.
4. I’m In Pain
Cats sometimes yowl before they vomit, which may mean they’re telling you to get the paper towels ready. Yowling may also be a territorial behavior that cats use when they feel threatened by other cats or animals. If the yowling is excessive, you should take your cat to a veterinarian for an examination. Excessive vocalization, like yowling, can be a sign of hyperthyroidism, a common hormonal disease in older cats.
Cats may also start to hide if they are in pain. Cats are really good at masking sickness. They can’t show their weakness in the wild. Over the past decade, an increasing number of studies have found that older cats, especially those 12 and older, have a high incidence of arthritis. One of the most common signs of chronic pain from arthritis is hiding or sleeping more. So if your outgoing and friendly cat suddenly starts avoiding you, call your veterinarian.
3. Just Because I’m Purring Doesn’t Mean I’m Happy.
Most people believe that when a cat purrs it’s because they’re happy. While this can be true sometimes, it is not always the case. Purring can signify contentedness, but it can also mean your cat is in pain, nervous, or is just trying to manipulate you into feeding him. Kelly Morgan, DVM, clinical instructor at the Chicago Center for Veterinary Medicine of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Veterinary Medicine in Chicago, likens it to smiling. People smile when they’re happy, but also when they’re uncomfortable or when they want something. Likewise, purring can indicate a variety of internal states. Pay attention to your cat’s body language when they’re purring, little clues like posture and tension can help you understand your cat and their overall mood. If the purring is incessant and it appears there are other signs of stress or illness, it is recommended to seek the expert opinion of a vet.
2. You Would Make A Terrible Cat.
According to John Bradshaw, an anthro-zoologist, our cats consider us to be their fellow creatures. To them, we are kind of huge, clumsy cats who simply don’t know how to behave like cats. We are large, useless cats, not another species, and thus will treat you as such.
Experiments conducted by Bradshaw have shown that dogs modify their behavior when interacting with humans. However, cats tend to treat us like fellow felines. They want to help feed you and bathe you because your cat skills are frightfully inadequate. Plus, they love you and want to take care of you. This is said to be one of the few reasons behind why they bring us ‘presents’ (i.e. dead animals); they want to help take care of their family because clearly, we can’t do it ourselves.
1. I Want Attention!
Cats have very specific ways of letting you know when they are under stimulated. If your feline won’t stop knocking items off of your dresser or the kitchen counter, she is likely bored and attempting to amuse herself. A cat may display this behavior because she knows a little destruction will get a reaction from you, Morgan says. Cats may also meow and try to wake you up in the early hours of the morning if they want your attention – whether they’re looking for food or wanting to play. Cats are nocturnal animals, Morgan says. When they try to wake you up in the morning, it’s their way of saying it’s time for you to get up and entertain or feed them.