A Guide to Cat’s Body Language

s your cat trying to tell you something?

When they expose their stomach do they want you to rub it?

Which signals mean “stay away”?

What do you think this kitty is trying to say? Play with me or stay away?

When trying to interpret what your cat is trying to communicate, you should try to keep in mind that context is also and important consideration. For example, if your cat is safe in their home and has their tail high in the air, they are comfortable and confident. But a cat confronted with a stranger in their territory can also have a high tail which might also be all fluffed up.

Eyes Are The Window To The Soul

Pupils dilated? Check. Ears forward? Check. This cat is ready to pounce!

Cat’s pupils will dilate when they become stimulated. You might have seen your cat’s pupils dilate when you wave their favourite toy in front of them. This reaction is a part of their attack preparation and the extra light they let in by dilating their pupils means they can see very clearly in case anything decides to attack suddenly.

A cat may also have dilated pupils when they are scared or angry. You will need to interpret their other behaviours to determine if they are just playing or are afraid.

This sweetie looks very relaxed and loving

Cats also communicate their affection for you by slowly blinking their eyes. A cat closing their eyes around you is the ultimate demonstration of trust. If you notice your cat giving you a slow blink, try giving one back to communicate to them that you are not a threat and that you love them too.

Tail Tales

Guess what? Cat butt!

Cat’s tails are also a good indicator of their mood. As previously mentioned, a high, straight tail means your cat is happy or confident. If their tail is high and straight, but all fluffed up, they might be feeling threatened or scared.

A tail pointed down between their legs communicates that your cat is feeling insecure or anxious. If you cat is “wagging” or thumping their tail, this can be confusing, because for dogs, this means they are happy. It is quite the opposite for cats and means they are feeling agitated and you should continue patting at your own risk!

This cat looks very relaxed and is enjoying a stroll in the yard

Ear to Ear

Folded ears or just a Scottish Fold?

The position of a cat’s ears says a lot about their mood. When your cats ears are facing forward they are feeling focused and confident. They might demonstrate this behaviour when checking out a new toy.

Ears that are straight up means that something has your cats attention. If they are swivelling their ears around they are trying to locate the source of the sound that piqued their attention.

“Airplane ears” or a cat with flattened ears means they are mad. The act of flattening their ears against their head is to protect their ears and they may demonstrate this behaviour when they are feeling threatened and may lash out unexpectedly.

This Maine Coon is cleared and ready for take off!

I Got a Case of Body Language

Do you dare rub the belly?!

Beware the “Venus Cat Trap!”. You could think a cat lying on their back could be an obvious invitation for you to rub their belly, however, you should use caution when approaching them. A cat will also assume this position when they are feeling defensive, and may be accompanied by extended claws.

If they begin to attack your hand as you approach them, the best thing to do is to freeze. A cat is hard-wired to pounce on moving objects, and keeping still for a moment before retreating is the best thing to do.

It’s play time for this little panther!

It is important to keep in mind that these are only guidelines, and may differ from cat to cat. Just like humans, all cats are different and nobody will know your cat as well as you.

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Contributing Writer
Our contibuting writers provide some of the best information for owners of older pets. Working with our animal health professionals the OlderPet.com.au contributing writers provide content that is up to date, practical and accurate.

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