Demystifying the Feline Mystique (Baxter’s Guide to Cat Body Language)

Dear Readers,

It has come to my attention that I am not the only one who finds cat behavior somewhat difficult to understand. Ms. Boo can be charming (and purring) one moment, and nipping me the next. As an ambassador for peace and refinement, I felt our fans could appreciate my observations to better understand these complex creatures.

To demonstrate where some of our differences come from, I shall illustrate some scenarios. For instance, I enjoy nothing better than looking into a human’s eyes with my soulful expression to communicate how much I appreciate them, whether it be from a treat offered, or a good rubdown. Ms. Boo, however, will walk into a room and inevitably be attracted to whoever is allergic to her or one who has no particular fondness for cats. Is this some universal cat torture mechanism or an innate desire to charm even hard hearts to their side?

Apparently, favored readers, prolonged eye contact is interpreted as a challenge to felines, whereas calm indifference is regarded as safe, inviting, and a sign of good manners.  Therefore, even though she appears to simply be tolerating us by looking away and even bored, she’s actually bestowing upon us her version of feline respect.

There are times, however, when I have witnessed Ms. Boo abandoning her indifferent demeanor for excitement for favored friends. She is particularly fond of her staff, and since trust has been established, she will approach her people and pet siblings with her tail extended straight up, and will greet loved ones with happy mews and forceful face rubs: “Love me, stroke me, smell me, and let me leave my delightful fragrance on you so everyone knows we’re one!” I have yet to receive more than a nose touch, but it’s just a matter of time before we establish a deeper intimacy…

Anyway, before we drift into despondency, let us get back to the subject: Deciphering cat body language! The two main things to watch are the ears and the tail. From my studies, it is apparent that cats’ ears have the remarkable quality of extreme mobility. This is to assist them in their hearing, but also is a marker for their overall mood:Note how Ms. Boo’s ears are flattened down and back. Her tail was flicking back and forth rapidly in a classic “I’m getting quite annoyed with you” look. Apparently she did not appreciate my innocent out-loud musings wondering if this “Hip Doggie” dress was flattering and/or appropriate for her to model or not.

From my experience, the more flat and back the ears are, the more likely you are to be the recipient of a rather unpleasant swipe to the beard, perhaps with hissing and spitting (a rather unrefined cat feature.) This may be accompanied by a growl and a fluffed tail. So when I saw this through the viewfinder, I nearly had an accident!

Fortunately, she was only yawning!

Another thing that tends to confuse us dogs and dog fans is that when we dogs wag our tails, this signifies happiness. For cats, however, if their tails are whipping back and forth, this is a sign that you’re about to be lunch!

This has been a mere overview to what I’ve learned from my interactions with Ms. Boo. There are several good resources that I too will be studying intently. Might I suggest this link: Cat Body Language by Catster.Together we will persevere to mutual understanding.

Devotedly yours,

Baxter

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