Interpreting the Meaning of Cat Behavior

Cat behavior can be complex. While dogs behave in a way that most people are able to understand, cats are not always so simple to analyze. If your cat does things that confuse you, don't worry—you aren't alone. According to the United States Humane Society there are more than 38 million cat-owning households in the United States, and all cats act in just about the same ways. The trick is in analyzing cat behaviors in order to gain a better understanding of the various wants and needs of our cats.

Exposing His Belly

When cats roll over and expose their bellies to their owners, it's usually followed up with a belly rub. While most cats probably appreciate the gesture, rolling over is not something intentional they do in order to get their bellies rubbed as a dog would. This is a the ultimate sign of submissiveness and trust on the part of the feline; they are exposing their weakest area to you.

Leave a Hissing Cat Alone

When your cat hisses, leave him alone. This is a sign of displeasure at something that someone is doing to him. If he is uncomfortable, afraid or upset he will hiss. It's best to stay away from a hissing cat.

Kneading with Paws

Some cats knead with their paws throughout their entire lives. Other cats never bother with this behavior. This is simply a comfort thing that many cats employ. If they are kneading on you or your blanket, it means they are comfortable with you. The behavior originates from the way kittens must knead in order to stimulate the flow of milk from their mother's teat, but the behavior tends to carry on throughout their lifetime.

Rubbing on Things or People

If you have noticed that your cat rubs his head and body on you, others, or even inanimate objects, it doesn't necessarily mean that your cat loves you as much as it means that they feel possessive of you, or the object or person that has been the subject of this behavior. When cats rub on something, they leave their pheromones behind. Pheromones can only be detected by a cat, and it is their way of marking you as their own. Once you have been rubbed against by your cat, you have been marked for life.


Meowing is your cat's way of talking. He may meow for a variety of reasons. Perhaps he is lonely and wants you to pay attention to him. He may be hungry, or want to play. He may be upset with you because you have been gone all day and you still aren't giving him the time of day. Whatever it is, cats make these noises because they want you to notice them. If you want it to stop, indulge them—even if it is only momentarily. The meowing is not likely to stop on its own.

Cats are complex animals. Over time, gaining a more solid understanding of why your cat does the things he does can improve your relationship and the quality of life for your cat and yourself. It's all about learning to speak his language.