Cats have sort of a nasty reputation in the animal kingdom. Unlike dogs (who are sometimes overtly friendly and a little pandering to be honest in their affections) they’re usually seen as aloof and standoffish. According to experts in cat-human communication, your feline might be more expressive than you think. You just may not be interpreting what they’re saying correctly.

Sharon Cromwell-Davis, a professor at the University of Georgia in veterinary behavior and recent speaker at a feline behavior conference along with several other cat-specialists are here to help. Cromwell-Davis believes that the reason why many cats aren’t as understood as their other four-legged peers is that there’s more research on canine behavior. Here’s what we learned:

Purring doesn’t necessarily mean that your cat is happy. Rather it’s a “solicitation for care.” Author John Bradshaw of Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet remarks that cats don’t necessarily have the vocabulary to ask for help, so they resort to what they do possess: purring. 

Cats do have facial expressions. It’s just a matter of being attentive to relaxed and tense facial muscles. In addition Gary Weitzman, author of How to Speak Cat: A Guide to Decoding Cat Language also makes a point to a cat’s “slow blink” which is seen as an acceptance gesture.

Your cat is happy to see you when you come home. When you’re greeted with your pet rubbing against your leg and a tail wrapped your leg, that’s the equivalent of a tiny, furry hug. Sold.

 All that meowing? That’s an evolutionary trait that domesticated cats have developed in order to communicate with us humans.

We've still got a long way to go in order to become fully-fledged cat-whisperers, we’re now a few steps closer to “speaking cat."