CattyCorner: Mr. Wisewhiskers’ Guide to Cat Etiquette

Greetings, my paw-like human minions.

Once again, these are Forrest Wisewhiskers, coming to you out of comfort and sunshine with the information you want when it comes to cats and our mysterious ways. Today I want to bring you information from the feline world – some tidbits to help you mess deeper with your furry overlords.

I’ve noticed that people have an unwritten interaction code that you act on. Manners and rules for polite company, I think Mama called it. Well, we cats also have a code of conduct for the polite cat society. We don’t call them manners, but these instinctive behaviors that communicate intent between cats could actually be viewed as just that.

You may already have noticed that cats interact with each other differently than they do with humans. However, there are common behaviors that translate well into feline / human manners.

@ mycattpain / Instagram

Take bunting or headbutt, for example. Cats bump the heads with their humans as an act of affection. But did you know that we bump heads in the same loving way as a sociable expression of caring?

There you have it, your first lesson in the art of polite cat manners. Do you want more?

Of course you would. And because you’re a good person, here are some more lessons on cat etiquette.

How Cats Interact With Each Other: The Actions of Polite Cat Society

The nuances of cat society are huge, and I’m not going to say we are simple beings, but you can learn our language and manners as you study. And the first thing to remember is that cats use body language, sounds, and smells to communicate. Let’s look at an example of hearty cat manners from each of these three types of communication.

@ Teddyandfreddycats / Instagram

Keep an eye on a friend: An invitation that is accepted or declined through body language

When one cat is open to approaching another, a quiet blink may pass between them. It is a sign of having a place so that we can look at the wild world together.

If one of the cats crouches down low and tight and puffs up its ears backwards, then this is the polite sign for “Please no company”. Less polite refusals can include widened eyes, hissing, or clapping. Such obvious signs of a need for loneliness leave no room for misinterpretation.

Trill to trill: Friendly exchange between cats

Cats are very vocal, but not just meowy. We tend to reserve these for our conversations with you, but you will hear more subtle subtleties between cats. And one of the common conversations between cats involves the trill.

@ Stormi.balou / Instagram

We learn this high role of the voice early in life, our mothers use the sound as a signal to follow them. As a cat grows from baby to adult, the trill stays with us and we often use it as a respectful way to attract attention so that we can greet another of our kind. You will find that a trill is used when kittens are in a comfortable mood, which makes it a pleasant and subtle sound of good manners when compared to row attention requests like growls or hissing.

If you want to get your cat’s attention, surprise them with your study of cat etiquette and try a polite trill. Perhaps she will reward your good manners with a headbutt.

Butt sniffing: Polite hellos that convey loads of information

And now what you really want to know. Why do cats sniff each other’s bums? Is that really good behavior in cats, you ask? Yes it really is.

@ tutti_frutti_mimie / Instagram

It’s a fact. Cats sniff each other’s buttocks. While you might find it off-putting, we find a quick nose up the butt a perfectly decent greeting. One that also helps us know who that cat is and where it has been. For example, if my neighbor cat smelled my bum, it would say ‘Cheerio’ while recognizing or learning about my smell. Then, as she went her curious path, she would know that I consider the stairs my room when the smell of my derriere and its pheromones wafts from their surface.

See? A quick sphincter sniffer communicates so much and helps avoid rude arguments about the territory. Simple and effective.

@ grim.stagram / Instagram

Of course, these are only three lessons from the complete cat etiquette guide, but once you’ve observed these most posh interactions, you’ll gain further insight into how cats communicate. As I said, if you are to speak and act cat efficiently, it will take a lot of learning. You may never be a cat, but at least you know how to keep polite company.

Well, if you’ll excuse me, it seems that meal time has gone down with the sunset and I’m being called. In well-behaved society, you should never be late for dinner.

With thoughts like this, avoid rude behavior and don’t forget to feed the cat!


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