Understanding your kitten

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Getting to know what your kitten wants

Cats are good at letting you know what they want, either vocally or with their bodies. It won't be long before you understand what your kitten is trying to tell you.

 

Meows

You'll hear fewer little 'mews' from your kitten as she grows up, but instead you'll learn to understand her more grown-up, distinctive 'meows'. Low-pitched meows usually mean your cat is uncomfortable or unhappy for some reason. High-pitched meows mean she's happier, and if she keeps repeating them, she's seeking your attention for some reason. Eventually, you'll get to know when your kitten's trying to say: 'put me down', 'feed me' or 'love me'!

Interestingly, meows are hardly ever directed at other cats, nearly always at humans. So listen up, she's talking to you!

Purring

Purring is usually a sign of contentment, although it doesn't always indicate happiness. A cat that is ill or anxious will sometimes purr as a comfort. However, most of the time your kitten is rubbing against you, purring loudly, it's a sign of affection or she's asking for something, such as food.

Hisses and Growls

If you're hearing these, you have one frightened little kitten. She's trying to puff herself up to sound scary so she can protect herself. You'll usually hear her hiss and growl during tense encounters with other animals.

Rubbing

When your kitten rubs her face up against you, she's releasing pheromones. These are feel-good hormones which are secreted in her cheeks. This is a good sign, because it means she's really comfortable in your company and is showing she likes you.

Tell-tail

A cat's tail is an excellent indicator of her feelings. A happy kitten will hold her tail straight up; if she's frightened, she'll tuck it between her legs. The broad swishing of an adult cat's tail shows annoyance or impatience. If she's really agitated, her tail will move rapidly from side to side; this is clearly threatening behaviour. A twitching tail is a sure sign of your kitten's excitement and curiosity.

Pricked ears are an indication of interest in what's going on around her as well. Held erect and inclined forward, she's relaxed and friendly. But when a cat's ears go down, flat against her head, it's a sign of aggression, and she's keeping them out of the way in case a fight develops.

Your kitten's 'kneads'

It's common to see a cat kneading the space in which she's about to settle down. This movement indicates contentment and is a throwback to her time when she was suckling from her mother and kneading the teat to increase the flow of milk.

Your cat's habits: curiouser and curiouser

There's no doubting a cat has some very curious habits. Have you ever spread a newspaper out on the table and tried to read it with your cat around? She'll jump onto the table and settle down right in the middle of the paper, daring you to move her. You won't be allowed to substitute anything for that paper; no amount of trying to tempt her onto a cosy cushion or chair will move her. Why? Because by being on that paper, she'll have your full attention.

If she rolls over onto her back and stretches her legs, your cat is indicating complete submissiveness and trust in you. She's also asking for attention. And when she hops onto your lap and snuggles down contentedly, there's no doubt how she views her new environment.

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