By: sarahakabmg
Their main form of communication? Their sense of smell. By: sarahakabmg

Every species has its own way of communication. As I watch my sister’s cats frolicking together, I often wonder, How do cats communicate with each other?

Cats use a complicated method of communication. There are three ways they tend to “talk.” They sometimes converse with humans in the same manner. According to the ASPCA Complete Guide to Cats, humans are so focused on speech, we sometimes don’t pick up on a feline’s subtler expressions.

3 Ways of Communication Between Cats

1. Vocal

Your cat uses vocalization to tell other cats (or you) what she needs. Different pitches, as well as the intensity and volume of her meowing, reflect her different emotional and physical requirements.


Loud meowing indicates anxiety and fear, while less intense meowing is her way of showing confidence and contentment.

Sounds include:

  • Murmurs (purring)
  • Vowel sounds (meowing)
  • High-intensity growls and howls

2. Body Language

To interpret a cat’s subtle body language, you need to consider the combination of all her features and movements. Understanding her moves (of the eyes, ears and tail) along with her body position can tell you a lot about what exactly is on her mind.

Cats take on different postures for different situations, either in the presence of other cats or humans. But I’ll simplify things by saying that basically these movements break down into two categories:

  1. “Come closer.”
  2. Or “Go away.”

Rolling over and showing her tummy is her way of issuing a “Come closer” invitation. A female cat in heat may use this tactic to let her male mate know she wants to get physical. On the other end of the spectrum, arching her back, puffing up her stiffened tail, baring her teeth, unsheathing her claws — that all basically means, “Go away! I will fight if I have to.”

3. Scented Markings

A cat’s main form of communication is through scents. If you have more than one cat, you may see them butting heads or rubbing their cheeks together. This natural rubbing occurs only when the cats are comfy with each other.

According to The Cat Bible, facial glands release pheromones containing personal information about the cat’s age, weight, health and reproductive status. Cats use scents (ranging from urine and feces to scents released by paw pads or the facial glands) to leave messages to other cats. Scents are used to mark territory, to threaten or to announce a cat’s presence.

The next time I see those two frolicking kitties over at my sister’s house, instead of wondering, “How do cats communicate with each other?”, I’ll probably find myself trying to figure out what they will be saying next.

Additional Resources

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