Cat Signals: How Do They Communicate With Us?


Authored by Rodney Southern in Cats 
Published on 03-06-2009

Cats do not speak with words or vocabulary like humans do, but they are still able to communicate among themselves and with humans. Cats will make different sounds and will use body language to communicate with humans and other cats. They may also use their eyes to convey messages to humans and other cats.

When cats are trying to communicate with humans, they will display many different body postures as well as meow. They meow in many different ways and each way conveys a different meaning. Their meows will differ in pronunciation, tone, rhythm, pitch and volume. Purring is another way that cats communicate with humans.

When a cat hisses, growls, spits or shrieks, they are trying to communicate aggression, anger or irritability. If a cat is afraid, they may hiss or growl at a human to communicate their aggression. This is their way of telling humans that they do not wish to have further attention from them. This is also a way for a cat to try and defend themselves from a human that they may fear.

When a cat produces a high-pitched, raspy cry, they are often trying to tell humans that they are hungry and want food. They may also circle the human like a shark and rub up against their legs while they are producing this sound. They are trying to get a humans attention and are trying to convince a human to feed them.

When a cat meows they are trying to tell humans that they want attention. Many experts state that the meow has two meanings and that these two meanings are meant to be conveyed simultaneously. The meow is believed to mean, “here I am, don’t hurt me”. Kittens will mew, and mew means the same thing as meow. Kittens mew to get the attention of humans as well as their mother. Cats see humans as their parents and their meow is said to have a meaning similar to a baby’s cry.

Cats may touch a human as a way to communicate. This typically means that they want to be petted or that they are trying to comfort us. Cats can sense when a human is stressed or upset and will often touch them to try and comfort them. Cats also touch humans to bond with them. If a human returns the touch, such as in petting, the cat will feel that they have a positive relationship with the human.

Cats do many different things to communicate with humans. Cats have their own personalities and ways of communicating with humans. When a human owns a cat, they will most likely be able to distinguish what their cat wants by listening to their sounds or watching their body language.


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