This is a cat body language video from Cats Protection in the UK. I think they made it because a survey for Cats Protection found that 32% of cat owners risked being scratched because they did not understand their cat’s body language when he/she rolled over onto his back and in doing so risked getting a scratch. Rolling over on his back is not an invitation to stroke the belly but a sign of trust. Although cats who trust you like this will let you stroke their belly, gently. I think the problem is that people use too much force which stimulates a play/fight reaction which incorporates a bite or scratch sometimes. It is really about common sense.
Other mysteries to cat owners were as follows1:
- 75% did not realise that an upright tail was a friendly greeting – tail up position.
- 31% did not know that the slow blink meant their cat was content. The slow blink is often made in response our interaction with our cat (provided our cat likes us!). See Cat Stress and Welfare.
- 66% thought purring always meant the cat was content. It is more sophisticated than that. Cats purr when in pain too.
- 38% did not realise that a cat with flattened ears “is scared” according to Cats Protection. I’d say it means that a cat is in defensive/aggressive mode (because she is scared, perhaps) and sending a signal to beware of impending aggressive action.
- 50% did not realise that a cat licking his lips “signals stress”. I would not say it signals stress, more uncertainty. Licking lips or nose is a displacement behavior indicating that the cat is unsure. It is like scratching our hair or biting our nails.
It is obviously important to know cats if you are looking after a cat. I really believe that many problems to do with cat ownership would be resolved, at source, if people knew cats a lot better. As Ruth says, it is about education. I hope this video helps a bit. I am sure it is designed to try and stop the steady flow of unwanted cats that find their way to Cats Protection.
Ref: (1) Times Newspaper 1st Aug. 2013.
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