How To Really Understand Your Cat’s Body Language

When you don’t have the ability to communicate other than a “meow”, you are going to have to get a little creative with the use of body language. Cats use everything from their ears to their tails to express how they are feeling, or even things that they are wanting. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that cats use their fuzzy bodies to communicate to us:

 11012786136_bf5d0179a1_zSource: jacinta lluch valero via Flickr

The Tail

This is probably one of the most obvious tools of expression that your cat uses to let you know what’s up with them. The tail is synonymous with a cat’s mood, and a lot can be said with what direction it happens to be pointed in. Here are some common examples:

  • When tail is up this means that you’ve got a happy cat on your hands who is pleased to be in your presence.
  • When tail is down your cat may be feeling a bit scared or possibly threatened.
  • A “thumping” sort of tail means that your cat is feeling a bit agitated over something, and quite possibly annoyed. Much unlike a dog, when a cat’s tail is moving steadily this has the complete opposite meaning of a happy animal.
  • Slow moving tail, perhaps swaying back and forth ever so slightly, might mean that your cat is in deep thought, deciphering something that has triggered their curiosity.
  • Tail tipped over at the top (like a question mark) means that your cat is feeling friendly and is ready for action. This is definitely a sign of a cat that’s in a good mood as the tail tip over at the top indicates playfulness.

7195198614_ab0c51d867_zSource: Tambako The Jaguar via Flickr

The Ears

A cat’s ears are by no means just for hearing, although a breed like the Scottish Fold may not be as expressive with their ear communications. Just think of your cat’s ears as cute little feeling indicators that are speaking to you. Here are some common theories on ear body language:

  • Ears to the front, facing forward, usually means that your cat is feeling happy and maybe even a bit playful.
  • Ears sticking straight up may mean that a particular sound has spiked their interest, and they are very alert at what this could be.
  • When a cat’s ears are turned to the back, folded in a way that points behind them, they might as well be hissing. If they are not, this angry cat noise is likely soon to follow.
  • Ears flat and back against the head may mean that your cat is feeling extremely scared about something, and this is usually done in a hunched over or retreating position. Be cautious and respect their space if you find you cat with ears like this.


10099847935_3847105ce3_zSource: dave.see via Flickr

The Eyes

Just like a human’s can be, the cat’s eyes are the window to their soul. Besides being beautifully entrancing, cats have the ability to tell you many things with just the use of their eyes:

  • Dilation of the pupil’s can mean that you cat is feeling surprised or even scared about something. Also, you may see their eyes looking quite dilated if there is catnip involved, as stimulants can cause their eyes to dilate.
  • Constricted pupils can serve as a warning sign if your cat is feeling aggressive or even tense, but also take into consider if you are outdoors or in a well-lit area.
  • Slow blinking is golden. Always a good thing.
  • Droopy eyes indicate a relaxed cat that feels perfectly at ease.

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