​The Guide to Cat Behavior and Body Language

Posted by Meredith Brouillette on Aug 17th 2020

​The Guide to Cat Behavior and Body Language

Cats may seem the most mysterious animals on Earth. However, it is not that hard to understand their language. Cats use a lot of ways to show you that they are happy or upset.

You just need to be very attentive and keep an eye on your fluffy friend to make sure you understand them right.

Here is the detailed guide that will help you to understand your pet better.

How your cat uses her ears to communicate

Cat’s ears are the key to feline behavior. It will tell you a lot about the mood of your beloved friend and what he is trying to tell you.

The Humane Society of the United States singles out a number of cat’s ears positions which you have to pay attention to.

Ears forward

Ears forward signal that your cat is content and even playful. It is a great time to have a game, give her the favorite toy, or just talk to her. Of course, your pet won’t understand the words you say. But cats can recognize the tone of our voice. They are quite smart.

Ears straight up

Attention! Your cat is alert! When the ears are straight up, it means that your cat is excited. Something important attracted her attention. However, such ears position usually indicates positive agitation. Remember how happy your cat is when you bring home her favorite food? Her ears are also straight up! So there is nothing to worry about.

Ears turned back

Oh, we don’t envy you! You should better leave your kitty alone. When your cat’s ears are tuned back, it means that she is very irritated. Get back, human!

Ears turned sideways or back

Your cat is nervous or anxious about something. Keep an eye on your four-legged friend. Something unusual may be happening around. If this behavior is usual for your cat, it is not good. Your cat reacts to some external stimulus. Make sure you find out what or who it is.

Ears back and flat against the head

That’s a bad sign. Your kitty is pretty much scared. She wants to defend herself. An angry or aggressive cat’s ears are usually flat against the head. That’s how your pet signals that no one should mess with her!

How your cat uses her tail to communicate

It is very easy to understand how your cat is feeling right now just by watching how the position of her tail changes. Marilyn Krieger, Certified Cat Behavior Consultant, and Cat Fancy’s behaviorist, states that there are some tail positions that are very easy to decipher.


Tail up

That’s a great sign! Your cat is full of happiness. Go and play with her, give them their favorite food or toy. This is the best time to do it!

Tail down

Your fluffy friend is scared or threatened. Keep an eye on your four-legged friend to understand why it behaves so. Is there any external stimulus that makes her so excited? However, your pet may be just not in the mood today.

Tail moving rapidly back and forth

When a dog wags its tail, we know for sure that it’s extremely happy. However, it isn’t the same with cats. Marilyn Krieger states that “a fast-thumping tail is a good indicator that a cat is agitated and should be left alone.” Today your cat is too nervous. Sorry, it’s not a good time to play with her.

Tail moving slowly back and forth

When your cat is moving her tail back and forth slowly, it means she doesn’t know what to do. She is making her mind at the moment. Something interesting or unusual puzzled your fluffy friend at this moment. Find out what it is!

Halloween-cat tail

Such cats can threaten their owners! You don’t have to be a qualified vet to understand that it’s not a good sign. If your cat is trying to look larger and scarier than it is, this means she is scared. Your fluffy feels the danger from somebody or something nearby. Try to understand what or who is the source of her fears. You don’t need any nervous breakdowns in the family!

How your cat uses her eyes to communicate

You can get lost in your cat’s eyes for sure. However, they are also good indicators of how she feels right now. If you keep an eye on your cat, you’ll definitely get a confirmation of everything which is described below.

Dilated pupils

Cat behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett states that dilated pupils may signal that your cat is surprised or threatened. Keep an eye on your fluffy because it is not usual behavior. Perhaps the home environment has changed. Or maybe your cat reacts to some strange sounds. It may also get sick. In any way, it is better to consult your vet before taking any actions.

Constricted pupils

Such pupils signal that your pet is tense. It may feel aggressive at the moment. Pam Johnson-Bennett also implies that available light must be taken into consideration. So just look around and make sure there is nothing in your home environment that makes your cat feel tense.

Stare

Get ready for a challenge! Your cat may think you are a source of danger now. It can also be a sign of a playful mood. So be ready for a battle. And you will definitely lose, you know that for sure.

Slow Blinking

It is the opposite of the stare. Actually, it is a very good sign. This means that your cat is calm, relaxed, and trusts you all the way. You can be proud of yourself! You built a strong bond between you two!

Half Closed

It is almost a synonym of slow blinking. Droopy lids signal that your cat is relaxed and calm. She is satisfied. Perhaps you bought her favorite food? Or played her favorite game? In any case, you did well today. In fact, half-closed eyes are the best you can get from your kitty. That’s how they signal they are in nirvana right now.

In a word

Now you can understand your kitty much better. However, this is just a guide for beginners. There exist many more ears, tail, and eyes signals your fluffy may use. In fact, cats like to combine several forms of body language to display their feelings.

Of course, it takes a lot of time to understand your cat’s feelings and thoughts. But in the end, you’ll be rewarded. What can be better to understand your four-legged friend at once?

Don’t be afraid to step on this long road. It can be hard from the very beginning. But soon you’ll get used to it. You’ll start to learn more and more signs and signals. And soon you’ll become a professor of cat language!

About the author

Hello! My name is Meredith Brouillette, and I am a crazy cat fan. It’s been 30 years since I started to live side by side with cats.

My love for cats has also led me to one of the pet shelters in San Francisco. I am an active volunteer there. At the moment we have 27 cats here. They all feel well.