Cat Facts & Fun Cats

Cat Body Language – What Is Your Cat Trying To Tell You?

cat body language

cat body language

Once I take into consideration cat physique language, I’m reminded of a quote by comic Paula Poundstone:

“The issue with cats is that they get the identical actual look whether or not they see a moth or an axe assassin.”

On the face of it (no pun meant) this sums up how many individuals view cats. They’re enigmatic and inscrutable creatures who can each appeal us and confuse us in equal measure.

However what are they making an attempt to inform us?

Cat Communication

The reality is, cats aren’t nice at speaking in the identical means as extra social species similar to canine.

They advanced as solitary hunters with little or no want for social communication expertise.

Because of this Mom Nature determined to not give all of them the facial muscle mass that we now have, which allow us to point out emotion. So even when cats needed pull a face, they wouldn’t be capable of.

And simply to make issues extra complicated, not all cat faces are made equal. Take into consideration how pointed the Siamese cat face is and the way flat the faces of Persian cats are.

In fact, cats do have a repertoire of physique language. However a few of it may be so delicate that we people are more likely to miss it.

For instance, do you discover:

  • when your cat is displaying rigidity in his face and/or physique?
  • whether or not his pupils are constricted or dilated?
  • if he’s shifting his weight someway?
  • if he’s blinking, squinting, yawning, licking his lips, flicking an ear or twitching his tail?

All of those, whether or not alone or collectively, may be indicators of cat communication.

cat body language

Cat Eyes – Pupil Measurement

The dimensions of a cat’s pupils could be a robust indicator of how he’s feeling.

Have you ever ever observed your cat’s eyes widen and go ‘black’? This occurs when his pupils are absolutely dilated.

This often means anger, fright, and even pleasure in anticipation of one thing good reminiscent of meals or play.

When the pupils are slender, this can be a signal that he’s relaxed. Often. Underneath sure circumstances, akin to a stand-off with the neighborhood tomcat, it can be an indication of aggression.

It’s additionally essential to keep in mind that cats’ pupils widen and slender relying on the sunshine circumstances. So all the time keep in mind to view a cat’s physique language in context.

Cat’s Eyes – Stare Downs!

Pupils apart, the best way a cat makes use of its eyes can also be vital.

A large-eyed, unblinking stare targeted on a selected goal signifies a critical problem.

If the goal occurs to be you, by no means stare again!

Both take away your self from the neighborhood or attempt breaking the stare by slowly blinking on the cat. Cats discover this gesture reassuring.

When cats discover themselves in demanding conditions, they may typically shut their eyes tightly in an try to dam out the world.

Though this may seem like they’re sleeping, in actuality they’re very removed from relaxed.

Nevertheless, if a cat is actually relaxed, so are his eyes. When his eyes look mushy and squinted, this will even be an indication that he needs to attach socially with you.

If a cat is especially shy or uncomfortable with you, he may look away together with his head lowered and physique hunched. If he does this within the presence of one other cat, it’s doubtless that he’s making an attempt to keep away from battle.


Cats are able to rotating their ears independently by means of 180 levels. Due to this there are a number of totally different ear positions they will undertake to point out how they’re feeling.

Upright ears with a ‘u’ form in-between them point out that the cat is relaxed.

Nevertheless, upright ears which might be positioned barely forwards can signify pleasure.

If ears are pulled down flat towards the top, this can be a defensive sign of a frightened cat.

However should you ever see the cat ears again and in a flattened place, this implies he’s on the offensive and about to assault.

As with different cat physique language, ear positions can change quickly throughout aggressive encounters with different cats.


Cat whiskers also can transfer in numerous instructions.

When cats are relaxed, their whiskers will level barely forwards and down.

If they’re feeling frightened by one other cat, they may flatten their whiskers towards their cheeks.

It must be famous that Persian cats can’t do that due to the form of their face.

When cats level their whiskers ahead this alerts aggression or curiosity. Attempt putting a toy or different object in entrance of your cat’s nostril and watch his whiskers transfer ahead!

Cat Tail Language

For many people, cat tail motion is the obvious type of cat physique language.

The place, velocity of motion, and fur smoothness all give clues to how a cat is feeling.

You’re in all probability conversant in the cat tail up place which signifies that a cat is happy to see you or one other cat.

Nevertheless, a cat wagging his tail back and forth can point out frustration.

Talking of aggression, the cat tail down place, the place the bottom of the tail has an upside-down arch, is an indication of a really indignant cat. However, if a cat is afraid, his tail can be overvalued and tucked low in the direction of his physique.

Though the perform of the cat tail quiver continues to be being researched, some consider it signifies delicate irritation.

Cat Physique Posture

Somebody just lately described their cat sitting like a loaf of bread. You may know precisely what she means!

That is the place cats sit with their paws tucked underneath them and rotated upwards in order that the pads aren’t touching the bottom. Placing their ‘instruments’ away like this can be a signal that they’re relaxed.

Nevertheless, if a cat appears hunched, together with his tail wrapped round his ft and paws seen in entrance of him, with all pads on the bottom, this can be a signal of tenseness.

This place permits him to maneuver shortly if required.

These are simply two examples of open and closed postures. Closed postures sign that a cat needs to be left alone, whereas open postures point out that he’s comfy.

Measurement Issues

Cats additionally use physique language to make themselves greater or smaller, relying on the circumstances.

To realize a bigger, extra intimidating look, cats will sit upright and stand tall, however the obvious approach to make themselves look greater is thru piloerection.

Piloerection is when their fur stands upright. It’s typically used as a protection technique, particularly if the cat’s weight is shifted again.

If the fur is upright and the cat’s weight is ahead this may be seen as an offensive menace. In both case, the upper the fur, the extra intensely emotional a cat is feeling.

Cats will make themselves seem smaller to keep away from battle. Typical indicators are:

  • averting their eyes
  • crouching
  • hunching
  • decreasing their heads and our bodies
  • shifting their weight away from the menace.

In addition to cats utilizing their physique posture, whiskers, eyes, ears and tail and to inform us how they’re feeling, they may use different behaviors that we’d not have observed.

Yawning, for instance, isn’t essentially an indication of tiredness or boredom, however can point out nervousness in a irritating state of affairs. The identical is true of lip-licking, one other typical indicator of stress.

So now we’ve seemed the person elements used to carry out cat physique language, let’s see how cats use these together with one another in several contexts.


When cats confront one another, they’ll use their ears, eyes, tail and physique place to point out both defensive or offensive aggression.

For instance, a cat displaying offensive aggression will strategy his goal sideways-on, together with his again arched and fur standing up.

His head might be lowered, his eyes narrowed and unblinking, ears rotated again. His tail can be held in the direction of the bottom, however the base could have the upside-down arch.

In the meantime, the sufferer will undertake a defensive place by both shifting his weight again, crouching low to the bottom or mendacity on his aspect in readiness to carry out a counter assault utilizing all 4 units of claws to rake on the aggressor’s stomach.

His ears will often be flattened, and his eyes can be broad with dilated pupils.

If he can escape, he’ll maintain his physique low to the bottom with tail tucked in and make no eye contact while he very slowly creeps away. If not, a struggle might nicely happen. (Please flip down the video in case your cat is close to!)


A annoyed cat might barely flatten his physique and/or ears and switch his head away from you.

His pupils might turn into enlarged, he may need a flicking tail and his muscle tissue might turn out to be tense. He may additionally show a displacement conduct comparable to grooming or scratching an object or himself.


A cat that’s alert and will prick his ears, have open extensive eyes, an upright neck, and whiskers positioned forwards.


A relaxed cat could have his eyes closed or half-closed.

When you’re fortunate he might even present simply how a lot he trusts you by supplying you with the cat sluggish blink.


His ears might be upright, his tail will grasp loosely, and his respiration shall be sluggish and rhythmical.

If mendacity down he might reveal his stomach (a cat’s most weak space), have a number of paws off the bottom, and splay his toes.

In search of Social Contact

If a cat needs to work together with you, he’ll strategy you with smooth eyes and an upright tail. He may then drop his shoulder and lean into you whereas head rubbing.

Nevertheless, regardless of how a lot you assume a cat is drawing you in, attempt to not abuse his belief. The alerts he’s giving aren’t often an invite to provide him an all-over physique rub.

As an alternative, maintain bodily contact temporary and targeted on his brow, cheeks, underneath his chin and round his neck. He’ll love you simply as a lot for it, if no more!

And don’t overlook the golden rule – by no means stare at a cat!


It’s essential to say this, as a result of cats typically cover the indicators of ache and damage. Very often we solely uncover them once they’re superior.

As a basic information, indicators of sickness can embrace:

  • a hunched posture (particularly throughout sleep)
  • tough wanting fur
  • the looks of the third eyelid
  • overgrooming in a single specific spot (this is usually a signal of ache in that space)
  • a sudden reluctance to be dealt with
  • limping
  • lethargy
  • lowered urge for food
  • speedy shallow respiration
  • weight reduction
  • sudden lack of ability to leap up or down
  • vomiting
  • a change in urination or defecation habits.

Speaking With Your Cat

Cat physique language is usually delicate, ambiguous and may be open to misinterpretation.

Nevertheless, as cat house owners all of us have an obligation to discover ways to interpret our cat’s physique language.

Doing so will assist us perceive how they’re feeling and determine battle, sickness, frustration and unhappiness at an early stage.

Very merely put, it helps us to speak with them in a means they’re extra more likely to perceive, and that may solely be a great factor.

Is your cat a great communicator? Inform us about it within the feedback!


“Facial Correlates of Emotional Behaviour In The Home Cat (Felis catus),” Bennett, Valerie, Gourkow, Nadine, Mills, Daniel S. 2017
“The Home Cat – The Biology of its Behaviour,” Dennis C Turner and Patrick Bateson. 2000.
“From the Cat’s Perspective – The best way to Readjust Your Considering,” Rachel Casey, BVMS Dipl(AS), CABC, Dipl ECVBM-CA MRCVS. ESFM Convention 2007.
“Constructive Cattitude,” Jacqueline Munera, BA, IAABC. The Secret Lifetime of Your Cat. Vicky Halls RVN, MBACP. 2010.
“Feline Improvement, Social Conduct & Communication Conduct,” Debbie Martin BS RVT CPDT. 2017
Worldwide Cat Care – “Recognizing Indicators of Ache in Cats”

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