RON: I’m Ron Corning for howdini.com and we are here with a guide to help you understand your cat’s moods. I’m joined by Katherine Miller; she is an animal behaviorist for the ASPCA. You know I have to wonder if you’re not a cat owner, and you thinks cat’s have one mood, that indifferent. And if you are a cat owner you know differently, but you may not know exactly how to asses you cat’s mood, or know what mood they’re in. What are the different ways cats might use to express themselves.
KATHERINE: Even though cat’s can’t speak and tell you how they’re feeling, they’re body language speaks volumes. So that’s why cat owners know that their cats have different moods and different things that they’re trying to tell them. And people who aren’t so familiar with cats aren’t aware of that. So it’s important to get to know the whole body language repertoire or a cat in order to understand how it’s feeling.
RON: Can their tail be doing something in particular, or just in general their stance?
KATHERINE: Its both of those things actually, the particular parts of a cat’s body, their ears, its tail, the tension in its muscles, these are all important things. But it’s also important to look at it as a whole to understand exactly what’s going on.
RON: Okay, so lets give specific examples, how do you know when your cat is happy?
KATHERINE: If your cat is happy and its resting for example, its probably going to have very relaxed muscles, its tail will be sort of drooping moving slowly, its eyes might be also half mast closed, and its ears will be at a sort of forty-five degree angle from the front of its head.
ROM: Cat’s can turn fearful at times, of what exactly, I suppose it doesn’t matter as much as knowing they’re fearful of something. How do you know that? What are some of the indicators?
KATHERINE: A cat who is fearful of anxious has a lot of tension in its body language, and you’ll see that the muscles are tense, the tail is often held close to the body or tucked underneath the body, the head might be pulled down into the shoulders, and you might see the ears plastered back against the head. And also the whiskers get pulled back as well.
RON: So if you generally have a cat who is shy and nervous for whatever reason, how do you begin to break through?
KATHERINE: Well, when you first take a cat home a lot of them are going to be shy at first. It’s a new situation, everything is new to them, and they don’t know why they’re there or where they are. And as they start to get comfortable in there new home their personality’s starts to show. They will have a good bonding experience with you, you can sort of coax them out of their shell with a little bit of playtime, with a little toy or some treats. You can put out a little trail of treats up towards you. Just encouraging them to be with you, without forcing them to do so. Which they can find a little too much and overwhelming.
RON: Again, there can be a process that doesn’t happen over night, you need to have some patients and give it some time.
KATHERINE: Right, usually it takes a couple of weeks for cats to settle into there new home, and start to show their true personalities. Though, don’t rush things. Know that it is a slow process, but it will pay off for you to take, give the cat time to settle in properly.
RON: All right, thank you Dr. Miller. I’m Ron Corning for howdini.com.