April 17, 2021

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A cat's body language is more involved than you think. Like humans, they experience a broad range of emotions and can be quite subtle when expressing them. They are unpredictable, mysterious, and solitary. And while great home additions like calming, anti-anxiety cat beds can help you solve one piece of the anxious kitty puzzle, you also have to watch for specific body postures and other signals to help you understand what your kitty is trying to tell you on any given day.

Fortunately, understanding the feline language is as easy as learning how to read and translate the different gestures your cat makes under different circumstances.

This article is for you if you are a little bit rusty when it comes to feline communication. We are going to help you learn essentials that will help you decipher the cat body language.


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Cat Body Language: Ears, Eyes, Tail and Whiskers

The Ears

A cat's ears are like satellite dishes that rotate to pick up signals. The pinna rotates up to 180 degrees to identify even the faintest of the noises.

Let's have a look at what different ear positions mean:

Slightly Bent Forward

What Does It Mean When a Cat's Ears are Slightly Bent Forward?

Slightly bent forward ears mean that your puss is declaring its playfulness and curiosity. You will notice this gesture when you give your kitty a new toy or when it has seen something new. It will also move its ears into this position when it wants to pay close attention to what's going on around them.

Pinned Back and Flat

Your cat will put its ears in this position when it's angry at something. Most times, this gesture comes with a growl. It might not be a great idea to pet it at this point.

Straight and upright

What Does It Mean When a Cat's Ears are Straight & Upright?

Felines draw their ears into this position when something catches their attention. They do this instinctively, so they can listen closely to an incoming sound and find out if it means danger or not.

Neutral

Cat ears assume a neutral position when they are just being themselves. It means that they are happy and unbothered. They just want to have a good time. If you have been waiting for the perfect time to pick it up and stroke its fluffy fur, then this is it.

 

The Eyes

In case you didn't know, cats communicate with their eyes. They are just as expressive as dogs. But their standoffishness and emotional vagueness make it a little bit difficult to understand what they are trying to say. While the direction of your kitty's stare will point you to its subject of interest, it is important to note that gazes vary in intensity and have different meanings.

Let's take a look at what each stare means.

Dilated Pupils

This is an obvious sign of feline excitement. You will notice your cat's dilated pupils when it is ready to attack its favorite toy. But when dilated pupils come with defensive or aggressive behavior, it might be a sign of fright.

Constricted Pupils

This is a sign of anger. Notice how your kitty looks at you when its favorite kibble in the bowl is missing? It is trying to say that you are not living up to its expectations.

Slow Blinks

Just like how babies blink slowly at their mothers while breastfeeding, cats do the same when they are in love with their pet parents. It simply means that they adore you. If this cat body language doesn't warm your heart, then you are really not fond of your kitty.

Cat Tail Meanings

Contrary to the popular phrase that claims that eyes are the windows to the soul, feline tails provide the greatest insight into their innermost emotions. Take a closer look at your pussycat's back end to be familiar with the tales the tail tells.

Below are cat tail meanings that will help you understand your kitty better and build a more trusting and fulfilling relationship with them.

Tail Twitching

Tail twitching and tail wagging are nearly the same; only that twitching involves a lot of flicking at the tip. Kitties twitch their tails when they are playing, hunting, or when they feel frustrated and mildly irritated. They wag when they are happy and contented.

Tucked Away Tail

This is either a sign of submission or fear. If your cat tightly tucks its tail in between its legs, you better reassure it of its safety and make them feel safe.

Curved Tail

Ever heard of the proverb 'curiosity killed the cat?' Well, if your cat curves its tail an uncountable number of times in a day, then you better brace yourself for its death…. Just kidding. A curved tail is indicates curiosity. It could also be a signal of playfulness.

If you've been looking for a good time to expose your kitty to some new fun activities, then this is your chance.

Low Tail

When a cat gets low with its tail, it means business, and could become antagonistic. But this is not always the case. Some breeds like the Persians wear their tails low most times. You have to know your pet well to avoid misinterpreting this tail signal.

High Tail

Just like how humans walk with their heads and shoulders straight when they are confident, cats too hold their tails high in the air as they move around their territory as an expression of confidence and contentment.

Whiskers

Here is a fun fact: Whiskers, or vibrissae, are the first hairs that a cat grows while in the womb. They are thicker and longer than normal fur and are planted three times deeper into the skin. Though they aren't going to tell you much about your kitty's behavior in comparison with the other body parts, whiskers may give you helpful hints.

Let's take a look at different whisker positions and what they mean.

  1. Neutral. Whiskers tend to sit in a neutral position on a cat's face when they are blissful and laid back.
  2. Pulled Forward. This happens when it is interested in something. You will also notice that the muzzle gets plumped up and mouth closed with loose lips. Cats also pull their whiskers forward when they are hunting.
  3. Pulled Backwards. It is easy to notice this cat body language. It is a sign of fear, anxiety, and stress. The more your kitty feels agitated, the further it pulls its whiskers behind. You might also notice its ears moving further to the side. Whiskers and ears are a powerful duo when it comes to reading into what your cat is feeling.
  4. Moving from sideways forward. This is a sign of pain. It goes hand in hand with increased cheeks and muzzle flattening. You will also notice that its face appears more tense than usual. Call your vet if you are not sure of what is causing pain to your cat.

Remember, cutting your kitty's whiskers is just like dragging superman's cape. It doesn't only lead to pain, but also impairs its ability to hunt and effectively navigate its environment.

Overall Body Posture

A cat's body language is subtle. It's not always possible to tell what they mean by observing their eyes, ears, tail, and whiskers. You sometimes need to interpret your cat's body posture to understand it fully.

Here is a detailed interpretation of different feline body postures.

Lying on their back.

When your kitty lies next to you, facing upwards with its belly displayed, it's simply spreading vibes of trust, comfort, and confidence in your friendship. You have to resist that temptation of wanting to scratch its belly because if you don't, you are definitely going to be nursing injuries from its scratches. When in this position, they are always ready to strike, especially when they make a hissing sound.

Arched back.

It's often an indication that your cat is yearning for you to stroke its fur and cuddle up with it. This is an opportunity you wouldn't want to miss in order to make it feel loved and welcomed. Keep in mind that if the arched back comes with ruffled hairs, it is probably angry or frightened.

Rubbing against you.

When your kitty rubs its cheeks against you, it is a sign of affection. It could also have a deeper meaning. According to specialists, cats rub their cheeks against things or people to mark their territory. So you should feel valuable the next time your kitten rubs itself against your feet.

Butt wiggling.

Contrary to many animated series, butt wiggling is not a sign of excitement. In most cases, your cat wiggles its butt when it's stalking its prey or getting ready to seize something.

Have a look at this visual guide to get better insights into your cat's overall body posture.

Speaking Feline

Cats vocalize their demands and feelings just like any other animal. If you don't pay close attention, understanding them can be quite difficult. Not every meow has the same meaning.

Here is an interpretation of the most common types of meows:

  1. Short, high-pitched meows. Just like how dogs jump up on you when you've been away from them for a long time, cats let out a series of short, high-pitched meows to welcome you back.
  2. Low, high-pitched meows communicate displeasure or dissatisfaction in a particular place or something.
  3. Soft, pleading meows signify hunger. Your kitty is pleading for you to feed it right now.

Bottom Line

Cats are a conundrum. They have earned a reputation of being complicated and, so they can be hard to read. But after sifting through different cat tail meanings, gazes, ear positions, and general body postures, it gets easier to interpret their unique body language style.

Remember, every kitty is unique. Nobody understands your cat's body language better than you do.


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