Cats communicate with one another, with other animals, and with human beings in a variety of ways. Cats use sounds, body signals, and scents as means of communications.
Some experts estimate that a cat can make more than 60 different sounds, ranging from a soft purr to aloud wail or caterwaul. Most of these sounds originate in the voice box in the throat. But some scientists believe purring arises from vibrations in the wall of a blood vessel in the chest. The vibrations result when the speed of the blood flow increases
The sounds a cat makes may have various meanings. For example, depending on the situation, a meow can be a friendly greeting, or it may express curiosity, hunger or loneliness. Purring usually means contentment, but some cats also screams indicate anger and fear. Cats also communicate through various body and tail positions and facial expressions. A contented cat often lies on it chest with its eyes half closed. To invite play of petting, some cats roll over on one side and wave a paw in the air.
However a similar posture accompanied by extended claws, a direct stare and ears folded back indicates a fearful cat ready to defend itself. A friendly cat may greet someone with its tail raised vertically. It may also rub its head against the person and lick an extended hand. An angry or frightened cat flicks its tail from side to side, arches its back, and puffs up its fur. A submissive cat crouches down, flattens its ears and avoids direct eye contact.
Cats commonly communicate with one another by means of odors. Cats have scent glands on the forehead, around the mouth and near the base of the tail. A cat rubs these glands against people and objects and so marks them with its scent. Only cats and a few other animals can smell these odors. A male sprays urine on objects and so marks his matting territory. People as well as cats can smell the strong, unpleasant odors of the urine.