Cat Body Language: What Your Cat is Trying to Tell You

As a cat owner, you’ve probably already learned that your cat has a unique set of body language movements she uses when she’s trying to communicate with you. But if you’ve never had one as a pet before or if it’s been a while, you might not be sure what cat body language really means.

Cat body language

Cat Body Language Basics

In this article, we’ll give you some information about basic cat body language. You can use this guide to help better understand your cat and recognize what she’s communicating to you based on her body language signs.

When in doubt, if you ever have any questions or concerns about your cats behavior, contact a veterinarian as soon as possible. They will be able to give you peace of mind for your cat’s health and provide any care that may be needed.

Below are the important things to know about cat body language communication:

The Body

The position your cat’s body takes can let you know something about what she’s communicating.

Hunched Back and/or Standing Sideways

If she arches her back upward or otherwise looks hunched, she is probably aggressive and angry. Standing sideways also goes along with aggression in cats.

Tucked Low to the Ground

If your cat is tucked low to the ground, this is a sign that she could be afraid or in pain

Raised Body (Not Arched)

A cat who is happy, content, or calm will stand with her body raised but not arched, and will likely point her head and body both in your direction. This means she wants to interact with you.

The Eyes

The pupils of your cat’s eyes can tell you a bit about how she’s feeling. However, it’s also important to keep in mind that your cat’s pupils will dilate and constrict based on the amount of light available at the time—just like a human’s might. If your cat is sitting in bright sunlight, her eyes will be little more than slits, for example.

Slit Eyes

Your cat’s eyes may also be slits if she is about to attack.

Dilated and Blinking Slowly

On the other hand, if she’s feeling comfortable, her eyes will be relaxed and somewhat dilated, and she will likely blink slowly as a sign that she’s calm.

Dilated and Wide Eyes

Finally, if your cat’s eyes are very wide and her pupils are dilated, she is probably playing, hunting, or watching something interesting, like a bird outside the window.

The Ears

Another thing to keep an eye on for cat body language is ears. Your cats ears are always in motion, and you can learn a lot about what she needs and what she wants you to know by watching the way she holds her ears.

Straight Up and Forward

When a cat is at rest, is feeling comfortable, or is calm, she will keep her ears straight up on top of her head and pointed naturally forward. There will be no real effort involved in holding her ears in this position.

Pointed High and Very Straight

A cat who is alert, playing, hunting, or getting ready to pounce will keep her ears pointed high and very straight. She may turn them toward the sound of whatever she is focusing on, but will otherwise keep them very still.

Low Against Her Head

If your cat is keeping her ears down low against her head, this is a sign she is upset about something, scared, or in pain. She may also be about to attack you or another animal, especially if flat ears are coupled with wide eyes and growling. Be cautious of a cat with flat ears.

The Tail

It’s no secret that your cat’s tail is probably the most expressive part of her body. If you watch a cat’s tail for even just a short time, you’ll notice it moving, twitching, swishing back and forth, and changing positions depending on the cat’s mood. You can learn a lot about your cat’s needs by paying attention this particular type of body language, and learning to read her tail signs is a good way to get closer to your cat than ever before.

Straight Up and Flipped to One Side

Cats usually hold their tails straight up, and may flip the end of the tail to one side. This position indicates that the cat is content, peaceful, and interested in interacting with humans or other animals nearby. This is not a cat who is afraid or angry.

Held High with Fur Standing on Edge

However, if your cat’s tail is held high but is bristled out with fur standing on edge, this means she is ready to attack.

Tucked Close to Her Body

If a cat is afraid, upset, or in pain, her tail will be held down toward the ground and may be tucked close to her body. This behavior is uncommon in cats, so it’s an easy way to recognize something is not quite right.

Learn More About Your Cat’s Body Language

As you can see, cats have a vast collection of body language they use to “talk” to their humans. It’s up to us to learn how to read it! When you learn about your cat’s body language, you’re doing yourself and your cat both a favor. You can better understand her needs and recognize her boundaries by learning more about her body language.

If you have any other questions about your cat’s body language or behavior, consider asking your vet, a professional cat trainer, or a local cat hobbyist group. Any of these sources can provide useful insight for your cat’s communication and other behaviors, too. Contact our team at The Village Vets today for more information and any additional guidance for your pet.

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About The Village Vets

The Village Vets is a network of animal hospitals based in Atlanta, GA and the surrounding area. We offer honest, excellent service to our clients in a comfortable, friendly atmosphere. To learn more about our locations and how we can better serve you and your pet, click the button below.

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About The Village Vets

The Village Vets is a network of animal hospitals based in Atlanta, GA and the surrounding area. We offer honest, excellent service to our clients in a comfortable, friendly atmosphere. To learn more about our locations and how we can better serve you and your pet, click the button below.