🐶 $50 off dog DNA tests | Shop Now

🐱 $50 off cat DNA tests | Shop Now

Free US shipping & returns

How to Read Your Cat's Body Language?
Cat Fun FactsCat NeedsCat GuidesCats Behavior

How to Read Your Cat's Body Language?

Watching the behavior of pets is a fascinating experience. By carefully studying their habits, body movements, and postures, you can determine what the animal is trying to say. Understanding cat body language is an important aspect of a close connection with your pet.

In the process of communication, the cat copies its behavior with relatives and extrapolates it to us. Indeed, it is body language and smells that are informative for cats in the first place, and not various forms of vocalization. Even an alarmed cat does not always make any sounds. 

So, a cat communicates with a person not only with the help of vocal sounds but also with body language.

The tail is the most powerful indicator of a pet's condition. It can be considered a kind of mood indicator.

Eyes too well reflect the mood of the cat. As well as legs and body posture. Let’s see more in detail how looks communication in a cat's body language.

a black and white cat laying on its back on a rug
a black and white cat laying on its back on a rug

Learn to understand your cat’s body language

Happy and Relaxed

  • The tail raised up with a straightened or slightly curved tip to the side expresses the joyful state of the pet. A tail with a pipe means a greeting: friendly-minded cats greet each other. This is how they greet us, if, of course, we are welcome.

  • Trampling or pawing means that the pet is happy and contented.

  • The cat shows affection and trust in the owner through friction on the human leg. This behavior indicates a relaxed state of the animal, which is begging for something, for example, affection. She also tries to leave her scent on a person as a sign of affection.

  • The cat is lying down with its spine and tummy extended. He takes this position when he lacks care and attention. At this point, it is desirable to stroke him. The stomach area should be avoided as this is their most sensitive area, touching it can trigger an attack. In this case, everything will depend on the nature of the pet. If the character is affectionate, then biting will be light.

  • If the cat’s sleeping body is curled up in a ball, then he feels well, warm and comfortable. He is content and calm.

  • Lying on the side with outstretched paws expresses relaxation and security.

  • Being in a calm and peaceful state, the animal squints its eyes. And the highest bliss is experienced by the cat that sits next to you and squints.

  • Gaze and very slow blinking are a sign of complete trust in the person who is nearby, and a sign of feline love. By the way, some zoopsychologists recommend imitating this behavior of a cat and using the owner such a technique as slow blinking when communicating with her. It helps relieve tension.

Playful

  • The cat shows curiosity through wide-open eyes. So she explores the world around her with interest. 

  • The playful state of a cat or its desire to hunt can be determined by the ears pointing forward. Vertical position means interest in surrounding things.

  • When an animal is interested in watching something, it simply sits down and tightens its paws, hugging them with its tail.

  • The "Column" position (the cat has taken a vertical position, sitting on its hind legs, eyes wide open) shows the pet's curiosity. She wants to understand what is happening around her.

  • If the cat is slowly sneaking or standing still, pressed to the floor or ground, the eyes are open and focused on the target, and the tail is straight or wagging, then it is aimed at catching prey.

  • Often, at the sight of such inaccessible prey, cats additionally quickly click their teeth, as if nervously twitching their jaws - this is a sign of extreme excitement and a state of frustration. By the way, some scientists believe that such a clatter comes from the so-called “deadly bite”, when in the process of hunting a cat quickly closes its teeth on the victim’s neck.

Scared or Worried

  • The following pose symbolizes the state of aggression or fear: the cat stretches out on its paws, arches its back, its hair stands on the end, its ears are pressed down, and its fangs are bared. This position indicates its readiness for combat operations. For small pets, this position is typical during games.

  • An open look can mean fear or aggression. Thus, she tries to scare the enemy. Most often, this look can be found in fighting cats.

  • If the cat is in an irritated state or is interested in something, then it will wave from side to side with the tip of its tail. Such twitching means a small degree of irritation, which can develop into an aggressive manifestation of discontent.

  • When a cat beats its tail up and down sharply, it shows great anxiety. His hair stands on end and he becomes fluffy. He is very angry and ready to go on the attack. In this state, the animal is best left alone.

  • A state of fear can be characterized by the tail, hidden between the legs. In order for the cat to calm down, it is necessary to eliminate the source of danger.

  • Ears pressed to the head indicate the aggressiveness of the animal and its readiness to attack.

  • Twitching ears in the direction from the eyebrows to the back of the head expresses his anxiety.

  • Sharply expanding pupils are a sign of fear, narrowing - aggression and readiness to attack.

a group of kittens playing with each other
a group of kittens playing with each other

Other Physical Actions

  • The lowered tail shows the animal's tiredness or frustration.

  • If the tail is shaking, then the animal is marking its territory.

  • When an animal lacks attention or affection, it will touch the owner with its paw.

  • If the animal accompanies the owner, turning its body towards him, at the same time meowing and rubbing against the legs, then it is waiting for something.

  • All owners should be aware that a cat perceives a long gaze as a threat, which can even lead to aggression. Indeed, this is often how territorial “showdowns” between the cats themselves begin. From such a piercing gaze, the animal usually retreats, averting its eyes to the side. Therefore, in everyday life, the cat avoids such a long “eye-to-eye” look.

  • A tail above the head, especially in a mature cat, is a dominant gesture that tells cats about its attractiveness and at the same time warns competitors of possible troubles.

  • When a cat rubs against the edge of a sofa or scratches on furniture, it leaves marks. In general, marks are left either by urine or secretions from the glands: temporal, which are located on both sides of the forehead; perioral (located near the corners of the lips); tail. In addition, similar glands are located on the inside of the legs and on the pads. Therefore, when scratching your favorite sofa, the cat does not do it to annoy or out of harm - this is how it marks the territory, because our whole house is the cat's own territory.

  • The cat does not like any restrictions on movement. All zones must be accessible to her. Many have noticed how tenaciously a cat seeks to open a door or closet in order to climb up. The owners are familiar with the cat's reaction to closed interior doors - plaintive "poops" and relentless attempts to open them. Some cats cannot accept the fact that the owner without them takes a bath or even visits the toilet. No wonder, because the cat must regularly inspect its own territory. Your pet thinks that you live on its territory, and not vice versa - so it's better to forget about personal space without a cat.

So, how you can see your sometimes your “alien” pet has a body language that feels foreign to you, but you still can easily learn to understand it. Reading cat body language isn’t a hard task if you are just attentive enough and have an interest in understanding your little friend. And we hope that this article shortens the distance between you and your sweet pet.

Frequently asked questions

How to read cat body language?

A relaxed cat will have a loose, flexible body and a tail that is held low or curled around the body. The ears will be in a neutral position and the eyes will be partially closed.

A cat that is feeling threatened or aggressive will have a stiff, rigid body and a tail that is held high and may be puffed up. The ears will be flat against the head and the eyes will be wide open.

A cat that is feeling playful or curious will have a relaxed body and a tail that is held high and may be twitching. The ears will be in a neutral position and the eyes will be wide open.

A cat that is feeling anxious or stressed will have a tucked tail and flattened ears, crouched body and wide eyes.

A cat that is feeling content will have a relaxed body and a tail that is held low or curled around the body. The ears will be in a neutral position and the eyes will be partially closed.

Сat body language when meeting another cat?

A cat that is feeling confident and friendly will approach the other cat with a relaxed body and tail held high. The ears will be in a neutral position and the eyes will be wide open.

A cat that is feeling curious or neutral will approach the other cat with a relaxed body and tail held low or in a neutral position. The ears will be in a neutral position and the eyes will be partially closed.

A cat that is feeling threatened or aggressive will approach the other cat with a stiff, rigid body and a tail held high and may be puffed up. The ears will be flat against the head and the eyes will be wide open. The cat may also begin to growl, hiss or arch its back.

A cat that is feeling submissive will approach the other cat with a crouched body, flattened ears, and a tail tucked under the body. The eyes will be wide open.