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Kitty Whispers


If you don't know which meows means "I'm friendly," or "I'm scared," all you have to do is look at the cat's posture and you'll be able to figure it out.

Here's some general characteristics (common to all cats) of body language "vocabulary" and what body parts are doing the talking:

--Signs of saying "I'm friendly:"
  • Ears are pointed forward slightly
  • Whiskers are pointed sideways to look relaxed
  • Whiskers are fanned out and pointed forward to look alert
  • Hairs of her coat are lying smooth
  • Tail is held vertically
  • Touches nose to nose (with you) or another pet
  • Acknowledges you with a low vocal murmur

--Signs of saying "Let's play:"
  • Ears are pricked forward
  • Pupils are dilated
  • Tail is held in various positions
  • Whiskers are fanned out or facing forward
  • Body makes "stalking" movements
  • Occasional chatterings

--Signs of saying "I'm scared:"
  • Pupils are dilated
  • Hairs of her coat are raised along the back and tail
  • Tail lashes side to side or is tucked close to the body
  • Whiskers are pulled back along the face
  • Ears are flattened and point down and back
  • Body is crouched
  • Faces sideways to an opponent
  • Hisses, growls, or spits
  • Stares directly with constricted pupils
  • Lips are curled into a snarl

--Signs of saying "I'm ready for a fight:"
  • Pupils are dilated
  • Ears are flattened and face down and back
  • Whiskers are pulled back
  • Hairs of coat are standing up
  • Tail is held low to the ground or in an inverted U
  • Faces opponent sideways
  • Mouth is held open - hissing, growling or spitting
  • Slaps the ground with a front paw
  • Rolls on the back to fight if there is no means of escape

--Signs of saying "OK, I give up:"
  • Pupils are dilated
  • Avoids direct eye contact
  • Ears are held back flat
  • Hairs of coat are smooth
  • Tail is held down close to the body
  • Stands in crouched position with head held down
  • Makes a silent "meow."

I hope this gives you a better awareness of how cats communicate, so that maybe in the future you can "listen with your eyes" and avoid getting bitten or scratched.

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How old is your kitty in human years?

A kitten's first year in life is equal to about 16 human years. By the end of the second year she is about 21 human years. Then for each additional year she will age about four human years. Got that? (That's about four parties a year!)

Here's a chart to help you keep it all straight so you can plan the celebrations accordingly:

1 16

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The ancient Chinese admired the cat's quickness, agility, and relaxed readiness when faced with attack or danger. From their observations of the cat's expert fighting techniques, they developed much of their martial arts system of combat.

In kung fu, kempo karate, kajukembo, and other styles, the many stances, moves, and strikes are named after the cat. The "cat stance" is one of the first postures taught to beginners. The object is to remain relaxed, yet alert and ready to spring and attack - just like a cat!

The front leg of the martial artist is bent with the toes on the ground and the heel slightly off the ground. Most of the weight is balanced on the rear leg, arms are raised in the ready position. The hands are shaped like claws, protecting the vital areas of the throat and heart. It is such an effective technique, that once learned it is used by beginners and experts alike.


In addition to martial artists, spiritual masters have benefited from studying the habits of cats. Centuries ago, Eastern wise men observed how cats arched their backs and stretched their limbs after resting. They concluded that such moves eliminated the stiffness due to inactivity.

So, just as in the martial arts, the "cat pose" was born, and it became part of many yoga routines. According to the yoga handbook, you should kneel on all fours, breathe in and lift one leg straight up behind you, while raising your head. Hold this pose, breathe normally, then exhale, and lower the leg. Repeat with the other leg. (Got that?)

Such cat-like moves, if done correctly and consistently, is said to increase circulation and refresh the mind and body. (Go ahead, try it for yourself, if you dare!)

You've probably seen your kitties go through all these familiar moves hundreds of times without even realizing the impact such simple things have had on civilizations for hundreds of years. That's our amazing and wonderful feline friends! Just one more reason to love them! (Like we need another reason!)

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