A survey by the charity Cats Protection, found that 32 per cent of owners risked being scratched through failing to understand what a cat on its back is trying to say.
It has made a You Tube video to help owners to identify their cat’s moods.
A cat lying on its back, for example, does not want its tummy rubbed; it is telling you that it trusts you not to touch its belly, but that you may stroke its head.
I think that my cat Monty speaks a different language!
Three owners in four did not know that an upright tail meant their pet was saying it was pleased to see them.
Thirty one per cent of owners failed to recognise a slow blink with a turn of head to one side as a sign of calm contentment.
Two in three thought purring signalled happiness, but it can be a sign of pain.
A cat with flattened ears is scared and cats licking their lips mean stress and in my cat’s case it’s saying I am going to be sick on the hall carpet.
A quarter of owners thought cats intentionally shed hair to mark territory, with one in 20 thinking a cat rubbing against furniture or the walls had an itchy face, when in fact they were leaving their scent.
In my cat’s case he is saying I am pleased to see you.
Nick Trevorrow of Cats Protection said: “Cats have not evolved complex facial muscles.
“Their expressions can be difficult to read.”
“Many cat owners treat their pet like a human friend and think they are being kind when they lavish it with long affectionate hugs.
“However cats are quite solitary creatures and generally find this over the top – instead preferring frequent but brief attention.
“Misreading these signals can lead to you distressing your cat or being scratched, even if you have its best intentions at heart.”