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Do you understand your cat's body language and what it really means?

According to The Cats Protection, a leading UK feline welfare charity, most cat owners don't really have a clue. They surveyed over 1,100 adult cat owners, and found a lack of knowledge in certain areas which prompted them to educate the public about cat behavior.

The survey revealed that:

  • Two thirds (65%) of us think a cat only purrs when happy whereas it sometimes can occur when it is in pain.
  • The majority of people (76%) failed to understand a cat’s upright tail is a greeting.
  • One in 20 concluded that a cat rubs its cheeks on surfaces because it has an ‘itchy face’ rather than actually marking a territory.

Cats Protection’s Behavior Manager Nicky Trevorrow said that, "These findings show that we need to help people gain a better understanding of their cats which are sometimes misunderstood because they are complex creatures.”

However, she said, it's not all bad -- most people (69%) understand that cats slow-blink if they are relaxed in our company and over two thirds (68%) know a cat is greeting us when it is lying on its back.

Some ways to tell your cat is happy is by looking at its ears.Normally, a relaxed cat's ears will point slightly to the side and slightly forward. When you have piqued your cat's interest, you will see her ears go straight up.

Cat's ears moving from a forward posture to a backward posture indicates increased aggression. If you see a cat's ears moving from an upright position to a full horizontal position, that indicates increased fear, annoyance, or submissiveness -- a warning for you to leave her alone. If you notice that your cat's ear are maintaining a horizontal orientation on a regular basis, she could have an ear infection or ear mites, and a trip to the vet is warranted.

A cat on the attack will pin her ears all the way back in an aggressive manner.

Cats instinctively keep their ears flat against their head in attack mode to protect their ears from claws and teeth during a fight.

The tell tale signs of the tail

Your cat's tail can convey many things -- like affection, aggression, fear and happiness. One of the most primal tail movements is the violent back-and-forth swish, sometimes called a Sword Tail. Whether it's a wild cat stalking a zebra, or a house cat stalking a gopher, she'll swish her tail to prompt the prey to move, which allows the cat to zero in for the attack.

If the tail is in a position of defensive aggression it will be lowered, but the tip is curved upward. This indicates that something has attracted her attention, and she is very nervous, defensive, and unsure of her surroundings.

A happy cat holds her tail high, and if she greets you at the door with her tail quivering, she's happy to see you. That's the time you want to shower her with affection.

Often a cat will use several forms of body language to display feelings. The more time you spend together the more clear the signals will be. Like any relationship, you know how best to communicate and what things mean. 

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