10 Signs To Read Your Cat’s Mood

| Published on December 8, 2014

A lot of us feel like we communicate with our cats. But do we really understand what they are saying? Many of the unhappy cat scenarios seen on “My Cat From Hell” stem from the lack of understanding kitty. Holistic Cat Behaviorist Layla Morgan Wilde of CatWisdom101.com and the official cat behaviorist for Tara The Hero Cat gave us the following 10 clues to a cat’s mood and what they men, so you can start understanding kitty better.

#1 – Purring

The soothing low rumble of a cat’s purr often signals happiness, but not always. Cats purr to self-sooth from stress, illness or injury. Look for other clues. A happy, purring cat will have relaxed muscles and closed or half closed eyes.


#2 – Tail Lashing

Cats speak volumes with their tails. A common movement is the swishing back and forth tail. A happy cat may gently and slowly swish their tail from side to side. It may lovingly wrap itself around it’s person’s arm or leg. An angry or annoyed cat may swish or flick their tail in a faster more jerky fashion.

Image source: @DavidDehetre via Flickr

#3 – Rubbing

I like you. You belong to me. Now feed me, pet me or play with me. Any time a cat rubs up against a human from head bonks (bunting) to figure-8s around ankles, they want something. It may look like affection, but it’s often attention seeking and the scent-exchange is a way to scent-bond.

Image source: @DotanDimet via Flickr

#4 – Paw Taps

A light tap on the face with a paw while sleeping is a wake-up call. A harder and repeated taps with scratching or full body plant is more urgent. Feed me now or if something is seriously wrong, they’ll add a loud, insistent meow. Many cat guardians know the gentle touching paw of compassion. Cats somehow know when we’re not feeling well.

Image source: @arrathoonlaa via Flickr

#5 – Meows

Every meow or cat sound has a feeling and purpose. Adult cats rarely meow to each other; they usually only meow to humans. General meows alert us to needs like food or attention, a low warning growl, to a chirp of welcome or hello. A trill means hello, come over here. Cats make over 100 different sounds. There are loud demanding meows, yowls of pain or alarm, whisper quiet mews and all speak volumes.

Image source: @PaulLewis via Flickr

#6 – Not Using the Litter Box

You may think your cat is “just being bad,” when he goes outside the litterbox. In reality, your cat could be telling you something. Wilde says it can be related to fear and anxiety. Or, the box may not be clean enough, not in the right place, have the right litter, etc. Whatever the reason, it’s a pretty loud communication would’t you say?

Image source: @DerikDeLong via Flickr

#7 – Scratching

Fear and anxiety can cause destructive behavior, such as inappropriate scratching. The cat may hide or slink close to the ground. Watch for dilated pupils, ears flattened to the sides of the head and the tail low or between the legs.

Image source: @AndreannaMoyaPhotography via Flickr

#8 – Tail Straight Up

The happy, confident cat walks tall with their tail straight up. If the tail is hooked forwards, they are happy to see whoever they’re greeting.

Image source: @LucaMasters via Flickr

#9 – Bristled Fur

The angry aggressive cat is obvious. Their fur bristles into puffy points and they arch their back in the familiar “Halloween cat” pose. Their tail puffs out (this can also be a defensive posture from fear). Other signs are: snarling, spitting, hissing, growling, and extended claws.

Image source: @Iris via Flickr

#10 – Slow Blinking

The slow blink and eyes of trust. Often called the “I love you” blink, is actually more about trust. When a cat slow blinks in response to a human slow blinking at them, it signals to humans or another animal that they are not a threat. Additional signals are eyes half-closed, which is a sign of relaxation.

Image source: @TrishHamme via Flickr

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