Do you have a cat?  Do you ever just look into their beautiful jewel toned eyes and wonder what they are thinking?  As cats can’t talk to us in our human language it is hard to understand what your animal is trying to say.  But like people, cats have body language that they use to convey what they are trying to tell us.  Cats are very expressive when it comes to their body language, from the way they squint their eyes, to where they place their tails.  Here is what your cat is trying to communicate:

 When they are happy: Lets start with the best one.  When a cat seems relaxed or even a little sleepy, that is generally a good sign that they are at ease.  A cat will purr which is also a sign of contentment and relaxation as you may have witnessed many times.  Their ears will be in their most natural position.  They won’t be flattened or pointing backwards but just the way they usually go.  The ears may twitch at some noises but all-in-all things are good.  A happy cat’s eyes are their typical size and shape.  They will possibly be half-closed to closed so they aren’t keeping an eye out for predators.  If their bodies are lying down with their belly’s somewhat exposed, that means they feel safe.  Another way is if they are sitting with their backs straight but not hunched in anyway.  That means all is well.  Lastly, their tail is extended and flat on the ground.  It’ll be still and relaxed as their bodies are.  This is what a happy cat looks like, but don’t fall into the “I want a belly rub” scheme, it’s usually a trap! 😹

When they are afraid: Do you remember the famous Halloween Cat? Well, that is what cats look like when they are afraid.  In some cases, they may be hiding and refusing to come out.  If you can see their teeth or they let out a hiss, you can be sure that the cat is frightened but here are some other signs.  Their ears will flick back and forth rapidly so they don’t miss whatever sounds are happening around them.  A scared cat is a watchful cat, they won’t blink, their pupils are dilated, and their eyes are wider than normal.  Their bodies will be tense and have the fur fluffed up to its puffiest so that they look bigger and more intimidating.  They will most likely be in a crouching position so they can take off quickly when they need to. A fearful cat will have its tail standing up and stiff.  Sometimes they might have it wrapped around their body so it does not get bitten or otherwise attacked.  So get a sign that says “Beware of Cat” because they will let you know their fear!

When they want to play:  Cat’s are naturally playful creatures.  They always want to pounce on your feet, bat around a stuffed toy, or chase a feather on the floor.  How can you tell if they want to have some fun?  A playful cat will have it’s ears standing straight up.  It is trying to be alert and therefore ready to pounce.  Speaking of alert, their eyes will be wide open and focused on what ever they are considering their toy at the moment.  As a cat loves to play stalking games, their body will be crouched down with their behind slightly raised as if it is ready to get the jump on.  When it comes to their tails, it will either be down to the ground so they could hide the fact that they are ready to ambush or it will be raised and flicking in different directions.  If the cat is a kitten or still young, they tend to chase their tails.  So be ready for a kitty good time.

When they are ill or injured:  When a cat is feeling sick, their body language can be a little more subtle than most people can recognize.  They will howl or yowl but sometimes they can get a little too quiet as well.  That is why you need to pay a little more attention to what they are doing.  If you find your cat is lying in a crouched position with their head and ears down, it is a sure sign that something is wrong.  If they are lying in a way that is not normal to them, they are probably trying to avoid any pressure on that part of their body that is infected in some way.  They just want to avoid making what’s bothering them worse when they do this.  Their eyes may be dull and glassy as well.  So, when your feline friend is displaying this behavior, you might want to take them to the vet, ASAP!     

It’s hard enough to communicate person to person sometimes but with cats it is much trickier.  It is no one’s fault; it just is what it is (which is a challenge).  However, this is an obstacle that both the cat and owner can overcome together.  Just look at their eyes, tails, ears, postures, whiskers, and calls.  They will tell you what your cat’s mood is.  By gauging them, bonding with them, and looking at the world through their eyes you will better understand your feisty feline friend.  Just keep at it!

Erika Ravnsborg

Erika Ravnsborg

Blog and Website Content Creator

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