You're sitting on the couch with your cat on your lap. You're petting your cat, your cat is purring, and you're both very happy. But then you feel your kitty's claws on your leg. She's opening and closing her claws against you. Ouch!
Your cat doesn't want to hurt you; she's just kneading. This actually means she's happy and content. Kneading is what cats do to their mothers to make milk flow. When your cat kneads with her paws, she is feeling safe. She's treating you like her mother.
Cats also use their paws to show other things. When they are disgusted, for example, they may shake their paws, one by one. In fact, cats talk with all their body parts. A loving cat may greet you by rubbing her face against yours. If your cat rears up on her hind legs to greet you, she's trying to get her face close to yours. This means she trusts you and wants to give you a sweet greeting.
Cats' tails are important, too. Greeting you with a tail curved like a question mark means she loves you and is happy to see you. Swishing her tail back and forth means your cat is feeling indecisive or aggressive. This is unlike dogs, which wag their tails when they're happy! Just like us, cats show emotions with their faces.
Flattened ears mean she's scared, as do wide eyes. Blinking slowly, on the other hand, shows that your cat is calm and trusting.
Just because we don't use the same language doesn't mean we can't learn to understand animals. Study cat communication for a few minutes, and you'll be amazed at what your cat can tell you!