Cat Body Language Explained-how to understand your cat

cat body language

Having a cat or a kitten can be incredibly rewarding and it feels wonderful to see them grow up and mature, and slowly building a good friendship with them.

Cats are great friends to have but there is often quite a bit of a communication misunderstanding that comes with having a little friend that can not talk to you normally and tell you what it wants, or is thinking.

When you have human friends it is not a problem finding out what they want from you, or what they are trying to tell you.

You can simply ask them straight out what they want, and if they happen to speak another language than you it is not an issue, for you can take a language course practically everywhere!

But…what about a cat language course?

How are you supposed to know what your cat is trying to tell you, and what it is saying when it speaks it’s very own unique and silent language?

Cat’s do have their own language, different from humans in the way that they don’t use words like we do but cats rather communicate with their body and particular sounds and voice tones instead.

I am going to teach you how to understand your cat better and what it is saying, and you will also learn how to interpret your cat’s behavior so you can truly understand your little friend better from now on.

There are certain “hidden” meanings behind your kitten’s ear positions, facial expressions or even the way the tail is positioned.

Understanding Cat Body Language, at it’s core

Because cat’s can’t use complex words and sentences like we humans are so used to being able to use, they must use other ways and methods to tell us how they are feeling and express their moods.

If you learn these signs and behaviors, and know how to read into each one you will save yourself so much trouble in the future.

Your overall relationship with your feline will without a doubt improve dramatically as well, as it will feel more understood and content.

You won’t have to waste time anymore trying out a hundred different food types, just to have your cat still meowing and looking unhappy at their food bowl since you don’t know what it really wants.

When it comes to cats, body language is no coincidence and they use very specific gestures and movements to communicate.

Their bodies are always saying something and those meanings are very real and not imposed.

Of course, every cat is different and an individual with their own personality and that too is reflected in the cat body language over all.

You must learn to understand your own cat personally and how it works.

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Cat Tail Meanings- different tail positions

For cats, their tails are a very valuable tool for them and it serves as a marker that is also very clearly visible from some distance away.

Does the cat’s tail look like an exclamation mark? Is it slightly curved upwards or even puffed in an obscure fashion?

This is actually more important than you would think at first.

If your cat immediately hurries towards you with it’s tail raised when you finally get home after a long day at school or work, you can be sure she is happy to see you and in a good mood.

If you notice that the cat’s antenna’s seem to tremble just slightly it also means that she is happy, but this can also suggest that the cat is trying to show that this is it’s area.

If a cat’s tail is strongly curved and the tip is pointing downwards, you should take great care because it means your cat feels anxious and is ready to defend itself from possible dangers or threats.

If a feline’s tail looks very ruffled and big like a feather duster then it means the cat is trying to appear large and making an impression on possible opponents to ward them off and look intimidating. It is a sign of a cat not feeling safe at all.

If you see your cat hiding it’s tail between it’s legs under it’s own body it always represents fear and anxiousness.

On the other hand, if you notice a tail wrapped gently around it’s body then it tells you that your little friend is feeling very relaxed and calm.

Cat’s often have their tails wrapped around their body like this when they are sleeping safely and feeling happy.

What a Cat’s Eyes Can Tell You

Like a picture can tell you a thousand words, a cat’s eyes can do the same just like a human’s eyes are the window into the soul.

Felines are known for being observant and nothing escapes their gaze and eyes…

In addition to relying on body language, these animals use their eyes as a means of non-verbal communication a lot.

When learning how to understand your cat, you should not see the eyes separately from the rest, but always be aware of it’s connection to the other gestures and facial expressions in each specific situation.

Also read: can cats see in the dark?

What Does It Mean Then?

In cat circles, prolonged and intense eye contact is not seen as a friendly gesture but as a threat rather. If you stare at another cat for longer then you are up to no good so caution is advised…

Shorter eye contact, a quick blink even is seen as decisive and if you blink at a cat a few times, and they blink back both of you will have “smiled” to each other in a friendly manner.

So try not to glare intensely in a predatory way at your cat, but instead blink a few times with a shorter glance to appear more friendly.

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Eyes are part of the cat body language as well…

The Positions of a Cat’s Ears Mean a Lot As Well

The ears of a cat are heavenly soft and extraordinary agile as well. They have even better heading than dogs which is fascinating!

They use these ears not only to hear better and sneak around at night though, but also to communicate and express themselves.

Most of us have noticed at some point in our lives how their ears change depending on moods and situations.

You can see this in drawings and cartoons as well, where some cat has it’s ears back and it’s eyes wide for example.

These flexible ears are an essential indicator of how your little cat is feeling, and if it’s ears are pointed forward it likely means it is feeling happy and playful in a good mood.

If a cat’s ears are straight upwards on the other hand it probably means the cat is on alert or something has it’s attention fully.

If the ears are turned backwards then you ought to leave your little buddy alone for now because it means a cat is feeling irritated or in an agitated mood.

Sideways ears/almost back turned ears represent anxiousness.

Ears completely back or almost flat against a cat’s head mean that it is feeling very afraid or threatened even.

It is a sure sign to leave this type of cat alone for it is definitely angry or on edge!

The Facial Expressions and Their Meanings

People sure do use their face a lot to show how they are feeling and also just when we talk to one another.

We smile and furrow our eyebrows and compared to ourselves we may forget about how cats also use their face to express themselves.

Even if they don’t have as many different ones as you and me though of course…

Cats often use their face completely differently than us humans when they express themselves, and their meanings and ways of communicating may be different than what we are used to.

Kittens learn from a young age how to interpret different facial expressions from their parents, and slowly learn the appropriate cat body language to use themselves.

Young kittens observe their parents and mother very carefully and learn what to make of the different face positions and all the meanings.

What Your Cat Is Telling You…

There is more to cat language than just simple meowing and purring.

Each cat has it’s own personal dialect and it’s very own canon, just like humans do.

Some people are very talkative and extroverted while others are more reserved and prefer keeping silent. This is also true with felines.

There are many sounds and noises which make up the language of a cat, and the tone matters as well.

For some cat breeds this is an inborn trait, but how a cat communicates also depends on how often they must interact with other felines in their area and such.

There are some unique cat behaviors and sounds they have which they reserve for humans only. The classic meow is a great example of this.

Cat Language -The Meaning of “Meow”

Very young kittens give a mumbling sound when they are calling for their mother. Adult cats that meow seek support from us as well, and the over all tone and type of the meow means different things.

Why Do Cats Hiss?

These animals are very clever and intelligent, and being just that they normally try to avoid any encounters that could end up ugly or in a fight. They like to avoid confrontations if possible.

Doing that saves energy and prevents them from getting injured and hurt.

Sometimes though this cannot be avoided, and you are suddenly faced with something that you can’t run away from or avoid.

One thing that can help in such a situation is a clear warning sound, and that is just what a hiss is!

It means “stop right there”! and “stay away from me or else!”

Cat’s hiss when they feel pressured or threatened and they want to withdraw, but if not they will be forced to attack.

A hissing sound does not mean that the cat is automatically going to attack someone and that it is unavoidable, but it is rather a warning before things get out of hand. A sign that they are getting riled up and frustrated.

Cat Body language tells us a lot…

Purring In Cats

there are a few things that cats just love such as napping, cuddling or being pet by their favorite person!

Most of the time when cats are enjoying themselves there is going to be purring, sometimes very soft and quiet depending on the circumstances.

Even if your cat is not doing so well and is sick even you can still sometimes hear a purr coming from it.

Purring is an extremely complicated matter, and a big part of the cat body language they often use.

Young kittens must first practice until their neuro muscular system has settled in and just then can they perform a proper and real purr.

A purring noise can be up to 28 hertz! that’s amazing.

This “whole body” vibration serves not only as a way to communicate but it is actually also good for the cat’s health.

It is able to calm and heal the body and soul of the cat so it is no wonder they do it. (1.)

It is also very good for humans as well, this unique sound because purring releases happiness hormones in us and makes us feel joyful as well as we hear it.

Why Do Cats Howl?

If a feline feels uncomfortable for any reason you will hear a whimper or a howling noise.

the cat then needs help and it makes this sound so that you can help it and when it is in need of assistance.

The more extreme version is a shrill cry

If your kitty just got frightened or something unexpected has happened to it or it is even hurt then it can cry out for help.

You need to make sure your cat is okay and safe!

Even when cats get really upset or are totally not in their element they can still express their frustration loud and clear.

There Is Also Passion

During the mating season, it can be very noisy indeed. It can be loud before or during the act of love and it can sound scary at times, but that is just how it is.

Cooing Sounds

Cooing is not the same as cooing, there are many different variations.

A cat cooing is a distinct, almost birdlike noise they make at times

It always depends on the context and circumstances and it can have very different meanings indeed.

It is always meant positively though!

If your kitty is making a cooing sound, she is not about to transform into a pigeon, but is maybe out on the go. The gentle tone of the coo is almost like a friendly greeting targeted towards other kitties or humans too.

A cat that coos at you gently to greet you is expressing happy feelings and that it is happy to see you and that you are joining it now.

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How To Interpret Cat Behavior

Felines don’t just tell us what moves and affects them using certain sounds only. They also use their entire bodies for this purpose.

The body language these demure little animals like to use is entirely different from the body language of most other four-legged friends.

For example, when dogs wag their tails it means they are in a good mood.

A cat that flaps it’s tail back and forth as if electrified should be avoided at all costs though, quite the opposite.

In contrast to the dog, she is not in a mood to play around but instead is annoyed and tense.

Another example of this is how when dogs growl they are hostile and aggressive, while kitties make a calming purring noise when they feel content and safe.

Since these animals that seem so similar at first can be so different in that manner, misunderstandings are the order of the day here.

The best way to avoid any nasty misunderstandings is to know each animal closely and learn how to handle them just right, showing patience and respect to both. That takes a lot of trust and experience.

When A Cat Shows It’s Belly

A kitten’s belly is almost like a sacred thing in the minds of many…

Many of us have unfortunately, had to experience touching a cat’s belly when we thought it was safe, and gotten to feel just how heavenly soft it is for a short second….before it turns into a horrible death trap of clawing and bites!

If your furry friend lies on the side and shows you it’s stomach or even rolls entirely on it’s back then you have completely earned it’s trust and that is something to feel proud of.

The belly is a place that is usually meticulously protected. It is only when a cat trusts you unconditionally when it will show you it’s belly and even allow you to touch that vulnerable place.

You must be immensely careful and beware though…

Just barely scratched there, an offence can follow and instead of a cute little fluffy cat, you will have your hand suddenly stuck in a clawing and biting death machine!

Always keep a close eye on the mood and immediately pull your hand back if you see that your cat is becoming too colorful or agitated.

Some cats don’t like being touched on their belly at all, but that does not mean it does not trust you but some cats just simply don’t like that.

Cats show their trust differently.

Anyone who knows his furry friend for longer knows exactly where the sore spots are and to avoid them. Remember to respect your cat’s boundaries and feelings.

When A Cat Licks You

Does your cat sometimes like to lick you and “clean” you up at times like it would do to itself? This is actually a great sign and it means you are important to it!

When cats lick people it means that they are fond of you and consider you to be a family member. It is a way of showing affection.

It is also a subtle way for the little animal to hint that you belong to it…

Licking means that you matter a lot and it makes sense, you are the person who provides with food and shelter so your cat is trying to take good care of you by doing this.

If you have for some reason come into contact with smells that are foreign to the kitty and it does not like them, it can get rid of these unpleasant smells on you by licking them away.

One peculiar thing some cat owners have noticed is how their four legged companion seems to like the smell of sweat.

Cat’s actually are often attracted to sweat in humans and they enjoy the sweet salty taste it leaves on our skin.

You can read more about why cat’s lick you here.

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Learn to understand cat body language…

When They Blink

With no words but only with their eyes, cats can also communicate this way.

When a feline blinks at you, then closes it’s eyes briefly only to open them again in slow motion, it feels ultimately at home with you and safe around you.

Blinking is a peaceful and friendly form of eye contact for these animals.

If an attack were on someone’s mind then the view would be fixed instead of blinking and relaxed.

In your cats mind, someone who is blinking has no evil intentions.

You can answer your cat and return this kind gesture easily. Just make sure to not stare intensely straight in the eyes and blink relaxed and calm.

Then your cat will know that you love it as well and are glad to have her around.

Cats can also blink to defuse tense situations to avoid conflict and arguments.

The one who winked is signalling that he is not looking for a fight, but peace instead.

When a Cat Is Scratching

Cat owners and anyone who has been around these animals will know all about how they can sometimes ruin fancy furniture or claw their way through our houses.

Why do they do this though?

Cats consistently set up “their home” by themselves and it is a way of marking their territory. They do this quite literally by leaving their marks on your new sofa set. (2.)

The claws are one of the most important tools a cat has and it is used to hunt, climb around and mark their territory.

Furniture is often excellent for this marking work and especially ones with a rough surface because it gives enough resistance, and is therefore the ideal carrier for cat fragrances.

At the same time their claws are sharpened and maintained when they do this which is another plus for the house tiger.

If you want to spare your expensive furniture then consider getting a scratching post.

When Cats Hide

It is no secret that cats like to hide in places.

Preferably in places you wouldn’t expect them to be in such as bags, open washing machines or boxes. Cat’s really love boxes and hiding in them.

Read about why cats love boxes so much.

It is sometimes unbelievable these little guys can hide in these tight spaces but they are incredibly agile.

Hiding is almost like a basic instinct when it comes to these animals and they tend to graft themselves wherever they can.

You should not worry that your little friend likes to hide around and you should allow it, and there is quite probably some favorite secret hiding spot that gets visited again and again. That is okay.

On the other hand, if your kitty is just hiding, then you should maybe see if something is bothering her, because it is likely she is stressed by something around her in that case.

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Cats love hiding…

When Your Cat Brings Gifts

If you are “lucky” then your cat leaves you a gift from time to time.

It is not really luck though, because those gifts are not a diamond ring or a pile of cash your cat is bringing you, but a dead half mouse instead…

Sometimes you will get wings or birds without a head, things like that which your cat believes you will enjoy.

In some cases this “gift” is still very much alive and ends up flying throughout your apartment making a mess!

Your cat knows you are an awful hunter and is trying to take care of you by doing this and showing that it loves you.

It would not share it’s hard earned pray with just anyone so it is a sign that you matter a lot.

Even if you don’t want those types of gifts, it has a good intention and meaning behind it based around friendship.

When Cats Romp Around

When your kitty is full of energy and life, there is no stopping it!

When the desire to play around and have some fun grabs your furry friend, they get going.

They run and rush around the place as if struck by lightening and sprint fast.

They may also roll around joyfully on the ground or climbing around airy heights and tall places.

Cats that are acting like this will encourage you to play along with them by touching you often as if hoping you will join their fun.

They can also puff on your sleeves and pull on you as if wanting to play with you.

How Do Cats Express Trust?

These adorable and amazing animals like to take a break often during daytime and they will choose a safe place to nap in, where no hidden dangers lurk.

If your furry buddy wants to sleep on top of you, falling asleep on your stomach even then it is a huge sign of trust and love for you.

Knowing the cat body language is great when you are aware of these little things.

If the kitty feels in good hands, then you may also enjoy being kneaded some.

Kittens actually knead when very young to their mom to stimulate the flow of milk.

You can read more about why cats knead here if you are interested.

The meaning behind kneading is basically that it trusts you as much as their mom, it is a level of trust you can be proud of having.

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How Do Cats Show They Are In Pain?

It is never easy to see an animal in pain, especially your beloved pet.

They generally don’t complain loudly.

A feline that always is excited to get it’s food, but suddenly starts to spurn it for days upon end could also be struggling with some discomfort.

They can get by without food for a few days but do keep a close eye on them and bring them to a veterinarian if they don’t start eating normally again soon enough.

How Do Cats Show Grief?

Do cats grief and mourn those they have lost around them or have died even?

It has not been scientifically proven yet, but I am certain that cats can grieve as well.

They may not have as deep of an emotional range as us humans do, but they are intelligent beings with a wide spectrum of emotions and feelings.

They can definitely feel the loss at times when something bad happens to them and they feel the loss, each in their own way of course. (3.)

They may look around for the missing one, become withdrawn, not wanting to play, want to be more alone, not wanting to go outside and loose appetite as well.

Some cats may sleep poorly when they are grieving or look like they are agitated and nervous. They can even become aggressive sometimes.

When you know your cat you will definitely be able to tell if it is immensely sad or feeling down.

Grieving felines may also neglect to groom themselves and clean their fur.

Did you know that cats can cry? They do it differently than we humans though…

Read: can cats cry?

How Cats Show Fear

You will be able to tell when a cat is afraid by it’s facial expressions.

The kitty will look tense and under stress, ready to react to danger with flight or an attack even if it won’t be able to escape!

It will hiss in warning, first softly but then growing louder and eventually giving a loud cry when she is forced to defend herself.

When the claws and weapons are unpacked all hell breaks loose and the animal will become a force to be reckoned with.

Being stealthy, it will crouch on the floor to hide, managing to look completely invisible if if can.

A cat can hardly be seen on furrows or meadows as it hides in fear.

Only their sparkling eyes will be revealed.

If your cat becomes scared or threatened you will be able to tell by it’s tail, as it starts to look like a feather duster increasing in size.

If you have a a cat or a few then you should definitely strive to learn all you can about the body language of a cat.

By doing so you will be able to understand it better and it will also be easier to note when your kitty is feeling distressed or happy.

It will help you improve the well being of your beloved pet for years to come.

Did you enjoy reading about cat body language, cat tail language, and how to understand your cat better?

Let us know in the comments below!

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Cat body language can be strange…

Author: Cathour

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