On the Linguistics of Domesticated House Cats Part 1

brown and black cat
an orange tabby cat lying on front
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Domesticated house cats are fascinating creatures, and the way they communicate with their owners and other cats is an important aspect of their behavior. In this article, we will explore the linguistics of domesticated house cats and examine the various forms of communication they use.

cats in gray scale photo
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Domestic cats have a wide range of vocalizations, including meows, purrs, growls, and hisses. These vocalizations are used to express a variety of emotions, such as hunger, fear, anger, and affection. The most heard vocalization from cats is the meow, which can be used to request food, and attention, or to simply express that they are there. Purring is another common vocalization that cats often use to express contentment, relaxation, or solicit attention from their owners. Growling and hissing are more aggressive vocalizations and are used to express fear, anger, or warning.

Body language:

In addition to vocalizations, domestic cats also use body language to communicate with their owners and other cats. The position and movement of their tail, ears, eyes, and body can all convey different meanings. For example, a raised tail can indicate excitement or greeting, while an arched back can indicate fear or aggression. Flicking of the tail or twitching of the ears can also be used to express agitation or annoyance. The position of the eyes can also be a form of communication, as direct eye contact can be threatening to some cats, while slow blinking is often seen as a sign of affection.

cute curious cat with long whiskers
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Scent marking:

Domestic cats also use scent marking to communicate with other cats. They may rub their faces or bodies against objects to deposit their scent, or they may use urine marking to establish territory. Scent marking is an important aspect of cat communication, as it allows them to establish dominance and control over their environment. This is especially important for cats who live in multi-cat households, as it allows them to avoid conflict and establish clear boundaries.

a russian blue cat sniffing a potted plant
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Touch is another important form of communication in domestic cats. They may use touch to solicit their owners’ attention, express affection, or show dominance. For example, rubbing against their owners is often used as a way of saying “hello” or “I love you”. Kneading, which is when a cat pushes its paws against a soft surface, is often used as a way of expressing contentment and relaxation.

person holding brown tabby cat
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Play behavior:

Play behavior is also a form of communication in domestic cats and is used to reinforce social bonds and promote physical exercise. Play is often initiated by a cat using its body language, such as twitching its tail or pouncing on a toy, to solicit play from its owners or other cats. Play behavior can also be used as a way of practicing hunting skills, and may involve stalking, chasing, and pouncing on toys or other objects.

orange tabby cat on penny board
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Conclusionary Comments:

In conclusion, the linguistics of domesticated house cats is a complex and fascinating topic. Domestic cats use a variety of forms of communication, including vocalizations, body language, scent marking, touch, and play behavior, to express their emotions and establish dominance and social bonds. Understanding the different forms of communication that cats use can help owners better understand their pets and improve their relationships.

Our boys, Gingko and Kuby

One response to “On the Linguistics of Domesticated House Cats Part 1”

  1. Great photos to back up your insightful comments on cats. Thanks 🙂

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