Cat owners around the world are often left wondering what exactly is going on in the minds of their cats. Cats are not usually as outwardly expressive as dogs and often leave their humans unsure about what is happening in their inner worlds and private thoughts.
Cat’s don’t think in any language because they don’t think in words as humans do. They can associate words with memories, but their minds are not wired to use language the same way as people. Instead, cats use their body parts and positioning to express themselves to the humans around them.
In the rest of this article, we will explore the inner workings of the cat’s mind and how they relate to human language. We will also see the way they use their bodies to communicate with the humans in their lives.
A Cat’s Brain Is Not Wired For Human Language
The brain of a cat is not wired in the same way as that of a human. While humans use language (sometimes more than one) to narrate their inner world, there is no evidence that cats do the same.
Cats lack a default mode network, which is the part of the brain in humans that activates when we are not engaged in a specific activity. The parts of the brain involved in this network allow us to contemplate ideas not currently occurring and be reflective about our role in the world.
This kind of in-depth contemplation that is not related to current external stimulation does not occur in cats. If your cat appears to be lazily resting, the truth is they are probably only resting.
There is no evidence of deeper thinking occurring at this moment for your cat.
However, cats have stored memories that they can access to shape their experience in the world. In this way, they can get used to the language around them, and they can associate different words with different outcomes.
Cats can quickly learn the words associated with food and treats and other incentives they are motivated by.
In this sense, cats “speak” any language they are exposed to. Cats with American owners will likely associate English words with their different experiences. However, the same cat raised in Japan will associate the equivalent Japanese words with their unique experiences.
Cats that grow up in a home with deaf owners will learn sign language instead, which shows that they can adapt to any language.
However, no matter what country a cat is raised in, they don’t acquire the language completely the way a human would. They are simply associating the sounds they hear with outcomes that are meaningful to them.
How to Understand How Cats Express Themselves
While cats may not think in or use language the way humans do, they certainly have their own ways of expressing themselves. They have a wide variety of movements and habits they use to communicate with the humans in their lives.
Instead of trying to get your cat to learn your language, you may be better off trying to learn theirs. Cats communicate with their bodies, with different movements and positioning telling you different things.
One thing to remember when it comes to understanding cats is that they communicate quite differently compared to dogs.
Dogs are outwardly very expressive, and people might be more familiar with a dog’s body language and what that means. But cats use their same body parts in unique ways, and it’s important to understand the difference.
Your Cat’s Tail Positions
Your cat uses its tail to communicate with you. While we might think of a wagging tail in the context of a happy dog, it is not the same with cats. If you see your cat flicking its tail back and forth, it is warning you.
Your cat is getting annoyed with whatever is happening, and it is best if you take note and correct the situation.
If you fail to notice the annoyed flicking motion of the tail, it is likely the flick will turn into a larger sway back and forth. This signals that the cat is getting increasingly annoyed and frustrated, and if it progresses to a full-motion wag, your cat has reached its limit and is truly annoyed and agitated.
If you notice your cat’s tail movement progressing, you will want to take appropriate action.
This may include giving your cat some space or providing it with its favorite toy. Your cat is doing its best to communicate with you at this moment, and you will have a better experience with your pet if you learn what it’s trying to say.
The angle at which your cat is carrying its tail will also tell you a lot about how they are feeling.
When your cat is carrying its tail fully up with a slight curve at the top, it means your cat is happy and excited. They are intrigued by what’s happening around them, and they are happy to explore and be curious.
As the tail begins to drop, you can tell your cat is less confident in its surroundings. It may be a bit suspicious of the current circumstances and may be hesitant to go forth and check things out.
When the tail drops all the way down, your cat is scared. In a truly fearful situation for your cat, you may notice the tail completely tucked between its legs.
Your Cat’s Ear Movements
You can receive a lot of information about your cat’s mood if you pay attention to the motion of your cat’s ears. If you see the ears twitch, flick, or flatten, you know that your cat is annoyed or overstimulated.
You may also notice when your cat’s ears flick or flatten, its back may tense up as well, which is another sign that they need some space and a break from whatever is currently happening.
Your Cat’s Positions
Unlike a dog, when a cat is lying on its back, it is not looking for a belly rub.
When a cat shows you its belly, it is signaling to you that it feels safe and it trusts you. This position is not a move your cat would make around predators, as a predator could easily attack the most vulnerable area in the body.
You can rest assured that when a cat is showing you its belly, it is showing you love and affection in its own special way.
However, the communication usually ends there.
For the cat, it often just wants to perform this move without any action from the human. It does not necessarily want to be touched at this time. Some cats won’t mind, but other cats will not take kindly to this perceived invasion.
They may feel overstimulated and dig into your arm with their claws or teeth.
You may also notice your cat using its fur to make itself appear bigger, or that your cat is fluffing up its tail or raising the hair on its back. When you notice this type of behavior, your cat is scared and looking to protect itself by seeming larger and more intimidating than it actually is.
To understand your cat’s expressions more accurately, you can check out this informative video on Youtube:
While you might be wondering what language your cat speaks, the truth is it’s unlikely they are internalizing a human language for their own purposes.
They can associate words from the human language with their own unique experiences. However, when it comes to communication, they have their own method. By learning what cats want to say with their habits and mannerisms, you will be able to have a common language with your furry feline.
- Senior Cat Wellness: What Do Cats Think About All Day?
- The Spruce Pets: 12 Ways Cats Show They Love You
- Wikipedia: Default Mode Network
- Youtube: Cat Body Language 101
- Youtube: How to Understand Your Cat Better
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.