Cat Feedback – Two Signs
Cat nose lick - photo by Picture Zealot (Flickr)
Do you think it would useful if we could get some feedback from our cat as to how well we are doing in looking after him or her? If you agree that it would be useful, there are, in fact some signs and signals that we can pick up on. I'd like to mention two in this short post. These cat behaviors are not referred to as "cat feedback" but they are if we wish to use them that way.
Cats lick their noses a lot. It is so habitual and commonplace that we hardly notice it. Their long tongue quickly flicks over the nose. You will see this when a cat is unsure. It is the human equivalent of scratching our head or nibbling our nails. Obviously cats lick their nose for other reasons; being unsure is one reason.
If we handle or interact with a cat which creates slight unease in our cat (s)he will probably lick his nose because he is unsure about his situation regarding our behavior. It should be a body language signal that tells us that we can do a bit better. The nose-lick will take place immediately after our action.
I have a personal example. I pick my cat up to take him to his food. It's just one of those things that developed as he has three legs. If I put my head too close to his head he licks his nose. This is because he probably finds it very slightly intimidating. We are much larger, after all. I therefore modify my behavior to make sure that he is completely relaxed when I am a carrying him.
Cats shake their head for a number of reasons. I have noticed that one reason is to disperse discomfort. A cat might suffer discomfort and even pain when for example jumping down from a height. This might have put too much pressure on the body and a cat will shake his head immediately afterwards.
If I stroke my cat a little too strongly (because I love him too much and get carried away), he might shake his head briefly. It is subtle and not an obvious action; almost invisible again like the nose-lick.
As a consequence, I read that cat behavior as a sign that I am stroking too hard and then modify my behavior to stroke more gently.
You might like to see if you can observe these behaviors. I hope you see them as I do and if so some feedback from you in a comment would be nice.