LifestyleDecoding your cat's gestures: The hidden messages in purring, kneading and rubbing

Decoding your cat's gestures: The hidden messages in purring, kneading and rubbing

Is the cat rubbing against your legs? It's doing this for a reason.
Is the cat rubbing against your legs? It's doing this for a reason.
Images source: © Adobe Stock
9:13 AM EST, January 19, 2024

Cats are brilliant animals that communicate non-verbally. Every movement and gesture carries significant meaning. Understanding their body language is crucial to connecting with your pet truly. So, how do we interpret rubbing, kneading, or purring? Let's explain.

Interpreting a Cat's Rubbing and Purring

Ever noticed that when you get home, your cat rushes to you and begins to rub itself, sometimes intensely, against your leg? Many interpret this as an itch, assuming the cat wants a good scratch. This is a misconception. In reality, your cat is marking you with its scent, indicating to other cats that you belong to it. This behavior is innate to the family Felidae. In the wild, that's how they delineate their territories. But there's more - your pet also signals joy at seeing you.

And what about purring? Researchers in the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Neurology established in 2009 that this low sound has a therapeutic effect on us. It has been proven that a cat's purring decreases blood pressure, reduces stress, mitigates pain, and accelerates healing. The big question, though, is what your cat intends to communicate. If your pet purrs while being petted, it's enjoying the interaction. It can also hint at stress, particularly if the purring is coupled with tail twitching.

Your Cat's Kneading Might Mean More Than You Assume

Cats typically knead with their paws, a behavior held over from before they were domesticated. This instinct is manifested right after birth — kittens stimulate their mother's lactation this way. Adult cats knead their bedding and even their owners, showing their love and affection in such a manner.

Wondering if your cat trusts you? If it spontaneously rolls onto its back upon seeing you and displays its belly, it's a sign of absolute trust. A cat's belly is a highly vulnerable area often targeted in attacks. So, exposing it to you affirms its sense of safety around you.

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