The Cat Doctor The Cat Doctor’s Feline Temperament Pairs Back to Introduction

Vocal vs Quiet --- Communication Style

How does your cat let you know what he wants or how he is feeling?   Understanding what your cat is saying to you, be it by the set of his ears, the position and movement of his tail, a growl, a meow, or a look on his face is very important.   Our interaction with individual cats is greatly influenced by the communication style of that individual.   Some cats are talkers, others rarely speak above a purr.   The vocal repertoire available to cats actually exceeds that of dogs, but individual cats vary greatly in the volume and variety of sounds that they routinely use.   The tendency for some cats to utilize vocalization instead of, or to augment gesture definitely varies from individual to individual.   Those who vocalize a lot around people are perhaps, attempting to accommodate our human preference for verbosity.   Do "talking" cats tend to talk to other cats as well?   Some inter cat relationships are certainly more vocal than others.

Vocal cats attract our attention both in positive and negative ways.   Even an extensive vocal repertoire does not guarantee that a cat can make a person understand what he means to say.   A vocal cat can make some scary noises that reflect his level of anxiety.   He may be threatening you, or maybe he is just questioning your intentions, and not actually intending violence.   Vocal cats tend to speak when spoken to.   They are likely to meow or chirp when touched, and often call to get your attention.   Expressing their opinions out loud is common and they may even seem to walk about talking to themselves.   A vocal cat probably feels that you need constant encouragement when you are preparing his meal and meows enthusiastically.

Quiet cats communicate primarily with gesture, expression and posture.   Most cats are probably very good at reading and speaking this "sign language", but most human beings are not.   Quiet cats in a busy household may escape notice altogether.   A quiet cat may not make a sound of warning but may still be ready to blow up and rip your face off.   Laid back ears and a violently swishing tail may be all the warning you get.   To get our attention a quiet cat may touch you, or knock something off a table to get you to look his way.   Once he has your eye a 'drop-and-roll'manuver may be used to invite a caress, or he may gesture then move in the direction he wants you to come.

Recognizing communication style on a scale from vocal to quiet, therefore, rounds out the feline temperament profile.