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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, February 5, 2006

Your cat is saying more than just 'meow'

Hawaiian Humane Society

Carri Markoulis thinks of her cat Nohea as "Purrfect." Perky ears indicate the cat is curious and ready for fun.

Hawaiian Humane Society

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Mochi

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Scooby

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Cat lovers know a "meow" can mean many things, but a cat's body language speaks volumes. Once humans understand how felines communicate, a new world opens up ultimately leading to a closer relationship between cat and person.

A TALKATIVE TAIL

The expressive cat's tail offers warning signals. Twitching is often an expression of excitement and curiosity. A raised tail with some twitching is a friendly greeting in anticipation of something fun like petting or being fed. A lowered tail indicates relaxation and contentment, while a broad swishing tail may mean annoyance and agitation.

BODY LANGUAGE

Your cat's body and stance help explain her mood. Signs to look for include an arched back, puffed-up hair and sideways-turned body. These are defense strategies where the cat is attempting to appear larger. Dilated pupils usually mean your cat is extremely agitated while forward-sweeping whiskers show an attempt to scare you. Ears poised back and folded flat on her head show fear but if her ears are pricked up, she is likely interested or intrigued. She is happy if she's kneading with her paws.

THE NOSE KNOWS

Cats emit scents that establish and maintain their territory. Rubbing cheeks against you or another cat means she is leaving scent markers, claiming her territory or picking up the scent of another. If she sniffs another cat's raised tail, this is a sign of mutual acceptance.

CAT CHAT

Not all felines are vocal, but most express themselves through purring, usually associated with contentment and happiness. Listening for these clues will tune you in to your cat's mood. The slower and less intense the purring is, the more confident or assertive your cat feels. Hissing and screeching are sure signs of aggression, while loud sounds mean she is scared and anxious.

YOU'RE COMMUNICATING

Scent, body language, touch and sound help one cat learn about another. Your cat will use the same tools to communicate with you. Notice your cat's subtleties. You'll know when your cat wants to play, is hungry, feels threatened or just wants to be left alone.

ADOPTABLES

MOCHI

Tag No. 85691 A sociable adult, Mochi is a calico beauty with gorgeous green eyes. She enjoys spending her nap time in a kitty condo. When it's time to get some exercise, she uses a scratching post. Already spayed and vaccinated, Mochi can go home today.

SCOOBY

Tag No. 85640 Our little smooth fox terrier mix is as cute as can be! Scooby is an active adult born Sept. 29, 2001. Like all terriers, Scooby needs a family to keep her busy and occupied. Her mind is always working, looking for something fun to do.

These animals already may have found homes. The Hawaiian Humane Society and McInerny Dog Park at 2700 Wai'alae Ave. are open daily. For hours, directions, special events and to see more pets available for adoption, see www.hawaiianhumane.org or call 946-2187. Call immediately to report lost or found animals.