How Do Cats Communicate with Each Other?

Learning your pet’s behavior isn’t an easy thing, as it calls for determination and observance. In my early years, I used to wonder, “How do cats communicate with each other?” But once I’ve become an owner of three cats, I have found the answer to the question of how cats talk.

From vocalization to body language and scent, cats communicate pretty well. While humans are used to relying on vocal signals, animals have developed more efficient ways of interacting and forming deeper connections with each other.

But how do cats express satisfaction or dissatisfaction? How does a cat communicate when another feline invades the territory? Do cats understand each other? Below, you can find answers to these questions, as well as the helpful tips on understanding cats’ communication that I have gained through the years of learning about their behavior.

How Do Cats Socialize with Each Other – 3 Main Ways

two cats communicate with each other

It is not news that all animal species have developed unique ways of understanding their own type. It became possible through learning and reproducing different sounds and behavior patterns, portraying such feelings as aggression, liveliness, or joy. Domestication did not affect pets’ ability to socialize with each other, and it’s a common story to see cats speaking to each other if you own more than one feline.

So, how do cats talk to other cats? Cat communication happens through three main ways:

  • Vocalization that includes the use of sounds, such as hissing, meowing, and purring;
  • Body language ;
    Scent.

Let’s take a closer look at each way. Below, I’ve gathered brief information on the specifics of each method so that you could understand your felines better.

Vocalization – Do Cats Communicate with Each Other by Meowing?

Cat meowing

Vocalization is the most known way of cats’ communication. However, it is mainly reserved for humans because it is not the main means for inter-cat socializing. Felines can produce three sounds, namely:

  • Purring, or murmuring;
  • Meowing;
  • Growling.

You can easily differentiate these sounds depending on their intensity, with purring being the peaceful one. Meowing is the most known sound, as humans quickly recognize and hear it. Domestic cats, as compared to feral ones, mainly use meowing to attract the attention of people and get what they need. But do cats meow at other cats? When it comes to communicating with each other, felines prefer making sounds other than meowing. You may hear purring if your cats do well with each other, or hissing if they haven’t get used to each other yet.

Why do you hear cats chirping at each other? For example, the mother cat usually uses chirps to tell the kitten to follow her. Felines recognize this sound as something intimate and may use it for inter-cat communication even after becoming adults.

To sum up, vocalization is a way of communication that cats use to express their physical or emotional status. While high-pitched sounds can show fear, meowing is mainly used to communicate with humans or as a sign of satisfaction. You will rarely hear growls when cats are playful or feel secure.

Cat Body Language with Other Cats – What Does It Mean?

Two ginger cats playing on the grass

Many of us have seen cats rubbing against each other, licking each other’s heads, or touching noses. If you think that it is a demonstration of love, you aren’t far from the truth.

If you want to understand your cats better, I strongly recommend observing their body language. For example, cats licking each other’s heads is a form of greeting. At a young age, kittens are tongue-bathed by the mother, and it is easy to see how comfortable and safe they seem when it happens. This gesture shows love and care. As kittens become cats, this sign of affection remains instinctive. Thus, you may notice your cats making this gesture to each other, thus, communicating.

Cats play and sleep together when they feel comfortable with each other. They can rub against each other’s bodies or entwine their tales.

Kittens are playful, and they use body language mainly to invite their companions for a play. You can see this invitation when the kitten rolls over and exposes its belly. For feral cats, such a position plays a more defensive role. By lying this way, they can use their claws as weapons and protect their backs at the same time.

When you notice that the eyes of your pets are widely open, and ears put backward, it is likely to signal the start of a fight. However, when the ears are forward or eyes closed, it means the cats are now good or have solved an earlier controversy. By closing eyes in the presence of another cat, your feline demonstrates trust and feels safe.

However, when a new cat steps on the territory of a more established one, the latter may hiss at the newcomer, and it may hiss back. It is a common way of greeting new mates and dividing the territory. Although the situation may escalate into a growling, you don’t need to interrupt their conversation, as cats are in the process of relationship establishment.

Scent – The Number One Cats’ Communication Means

cats sniffing a plant

Every cat has pheromone releasing glands on its neck, forehead, and chin. By rubbing against each other’s head, felines release and exchange scented oils and pheromones. This way, cats communicate and share feelings. Rubbing portrays closeness, friendship, and comfort at each other’s presence.

Scent release also aids in marking territory. It translates to a form of ownership for everything in sight, including you. Although you may not have thought about it this way, the truth is that cats have their means of marking their belongings and territory.

You may think about dogs first when reading about butt-sniffing greetings among animals. Such behavior is pretty rare for cats, as they usually smell each other’s neck and face. However, felines can also do butt-sniffing if they already know each other. I would consider it a kind of salutation. Butt-sniffing is a polite greeting gesture between familiar cats as if they were asking each other, “how are you doing?”

Spraying plays an essential role in territory marking. As a cat owner, you know that felines do cover their solid waste. But what’s the case when they leave it open in the litter box? This action is not just a territory marking but a demonstration of superiority among other felines within your house.

Domestic Cat Communication FAQ

With many questions being asked about cats talking to each other, I have decided to give some answers to the concerns that may be bothering you. I hope that after reading the information below, you will be able to understand your cats’ behavior with ease.

Do Cats Meow to Communicate with Each Other?

Meowing is a sign of confidence and a good mood. What is special about this sound is that it is mainly reserved for communicating with human beings. This way, felines signal about their needs.

Your pets may meow at each other in the form of a greeting, but it is not the main method of the inter-cat socialization. Instead, two cats talking can rub against each other’s head or body, purr, hiss, or growl to show different feelings.

Do Cats Understand Each Other?

By no doubt, cats can understand each other. If you observe their behaviors for a while, you will notice that felines use the same gestures and sounds to express the same reactions and feelings. For example, a satisfied cat won’t growl at you or its mates, and a kitten won’t hiss at its mother. Besides vocalization, cats utilize body language and exchange scents. For your pets, these means of socialization are much more tangible than just making sounds.

Can Cats Talk?

Cats don’t talk the way that we are accustomed to think. Instead of saying words, they portray feelings, emotions, and reactions. Thus, hissing and growling can be interpreted to mean that cats talk. However, these sounds are needed for understanding each other but not for chit chatting like people do.

Summing Up Cats’ Communication Means

All animals have a way of communication with each other. Cats are not an exception, as they utilize three different ways of socializing with human beings and each other.

As opposed to what you may have thought, the primary mode of communication between felines is via scent marking. Rubbing against each other’s head or body portrays closeness, friendship, and comfort. Hissing or growling cats can establish relationships or divide the territory. Thus, I can profoundly say that through vocalization, cats can express their positive and negative feelings.

Meowing is more of a means of communication between cats and humans. However, when felines meow at each other, it is also a greeting.

I hope that the information provided in this article helped you to understand your pets better. Learning about cats’ behavior requires extra attention and time. However, after observing your felines for some time, you will learn all their methods of socialization. Do you know what your cat wants when it meows at you? How many cats do you have at home? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.

The article was updated in January 2020.

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