Science Questions

How can I intrepret my cat's feelings?

Sun, 12th Aug 2012

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Question

Mike Hammond asked:

Sir

 

Could you please try and tell me what my cat is feeling?

 

When I get up in the mornings he waits for me and meows, I think he is letting me know there is nothing in his dish so place some food in it. After a while he comes over to me and wants the side of his head rubbed so I do this then he flops down onto the floor on his back legs open for his belly rub so do this for him.

 

Now what I want to know is when I rub his belly he opens and closes his front paws and there seems to be a smile on his face but, I would like to know why he does this with his paws? He seems to be relaxed and allows me to touch the underneath of his paws and hold them and when I stop rubbing his belly he turns over and lays next to me for a few minutes.

 

Sorry to go on and on but he is so cute doing this and makes me feel good and brings my HBP down.

Answer

Victoria -   It sounds like Teddy is a very, very contented cat because lying on its back like that is a very submissive posture which just means it very much trusts you, Mike, and really wants to be around you.  You're head of the pecking order.  But what that opening and closing of paws is about is actually, thatís a feeding kind of stimulation.  So when cats are kittens and they're suckling from their mothers, they actually paw at their motherís teets to try and stimulate lactation.  That movement actually stimulates the milk flow.  So thatís what your cat is doing there.  Itís a reflex action and itís also a sign of complete contentment, so I think you have a very happy cat.

Mike -   It waits for me and runs in the living room when I get up, and lies down waiting for me.

Chris -   There was a story a few years ago by a lady at the University of Sussex.  Her name was Karen McComb and she was working on something totally unrelated to this and she kept getting woken up in the middle of the night by her cat.  It used to come and scratch at the door to say, "I want some attention" or "let me out!" or whatever.  She thought she could detect a subtle difference in the purr of the cat when it wanted something so she actually recorded it, and took it into the lab.  And she recorded the catís sounds into a computer, looked at the audio spectrum and she saw that the catís purr running along between 50 and 100 hertz was punctuated by these cycles of 300 hertz.  Thatís the same frequency a baby cries at and so she theorised that what's going on is that the cat has learned to plug into your sensitive side, mimicking a baby so that you pay it some attention.

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Kittens massage their mother to obtain milk, this instinctive behavior is mistakenly applied to other animals ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCdizjgQCMM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m00ZVQUCgZs RD, Sat, 14th Jul 2012

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