Have You Learned How To Read Your Cat’s Body Language?

At times, it’s quite frustrating to try to figure out what your cat wants. I have told him more than once, “I wish you spoke English.” However, you do have an alternative. You can learn how to read your cat’s body language, and your communication could improve quite quickly.

Orange cat, yowling
Not a happy cat

Yes, cats do vocalize, even though they do not speak words. Nonetheless, they can make over 100 sounds, and if you pay attention to your kitty, you can learn what many of them mean. If you spend some time learning your cat’s body language, you will gain new insights.

When cats “speak” to each other, they use complex combinations of body language, vocalization, and scent cues. Of course, we can’t learn the scent cues, as our noses don’t have near the power of a kitty nose. However, we can learn their basic message by learning the most common combinations.

Signs Of A Happy And Relaxed Cat

When your cat appears happy and relaxed, it might be a good time for some prime-time petting or snuggling. A relaxed cat might look sleepy, and muscles are loose; head remains still. Read these body parts:

EARS: When relaxed, ears take a natural posture. They aren’t flattened to the head or angled back. Though the ears may twitch in response to a sound, they are not moving constantly.

Tiger cat doing the ultimate stretch
The Ultimate Stretch

EYES: Pupils appear their typical size. Perhaps the eyes will close halfway, giving the cat the appearance of dozing off. Kitty will not seem watchful or intent on something.

BODY: Your cat might be lying on its side, with the belly showing. This indicates that he feels safe. If sitting up, the back will be straight and the head up.

TAIL: When happy and relaxed, kitty’s tail will extend and lie flat. The tail won’t show much movement, and the fur lies flat against it.

How Can You Tell If Kitty Feels Playful?

EARS: Kitty will have the ears up, and pointed forward. The animal may look especially alert.

EYES: While playing, kitty watches you or a toy intently. Pupils dilate and sometimes the cat gets a wild look in his eyes.

cat playing with yarn

BODY: The cat may be crouched with hind end raised, looking ready to pounce. Perhaps he will pounce on a toy. My cat, Mocha, sometimes puts one of his spring toys in a clear spot and then practices his pounce. So cute!

TAIL: Tail action here might vary. Some cats keep the tail down when ready to pounce, or perhaps the tail is raised and moving around. The tail gets in the game, too.

What If Your Cat Is Scared Or Worried?

EARS: The cat’s ears could show the feelings in a couple of ways. Perhaps they flick back and forth rapidly, as kitty can monitor all sounds around him. Perhaps the cat will draw them down so they point sideways. Those ears might also lie flat against the head.

Dark tiger cat with hunched back and puffed tail
Having a hissy-fit

EYES: The scared cat will watch what’s going on very attentively. The eyes will be open with pupils dilated.

BODY: Perhaps kitty might resemble a Halloween cat, with fur standing on end and back arched. He might crouch as if about to run away. It will be apparent that the cat is tense and ready to make a fight-or-flight response.

TAIL: If frightened, the cat might hold the tail up and rigid. For protection from being grabbed, he might curl the tail around the body.

A Cat’s Body Language Can Tell You Many Things

First, what about vocalizations? How do they fit in? Your kitty uses vocalizations to express emotion. Each sound has its own special meaning. Interesting, that cats don’t meow to each other, but just to humans. They hear us speak and conclude it’s best to meow to communicate.

Black cat playing in snow
First snow

EARS ARE USEFUL: A cat will communicate both emotion and intent with the ears. If they face forward, the cat expresses interest. Moving those ears to swivel sideways or backwards can signify that kitty is aroused or distressed. Backwards ears indicate your cat feels threatened or disapproves.

EYES ALSO TELL A STORY: A cat’s eyelids indicate several things. A sudden dilation of the pupil gets its cause from some strong emotion — fear, interest, or something else that evokes a powerful response. If wide-open, the eyes reflect trust; narrowing to a slit can mean fear or aggression.

Droopy, sleepy-looking eyelids indicate that kitty feels relaxed and trusting. If you give your cat a slow blink and he returns it, that’s the equivalent of a “kitty kiss.”

Tabby with tail held high
The tail tells all

MEET THE TELL-TALE TAIL: The tail conveys several different messages. To translate, note the height of the tail, as well as the motion. If kitty holds the tail up, interaction is welcome. If flailing or thumping, stay away. A swishing tail could indicate a desire for play or frustration.

If the fur of the tail bristles, the cat feels defensive. When it’s held high and bristled, kitty is ready to fight. If tucked between the legs, the cat shows great fear.

TOTAL BODY POSTURE TELLS YOU A LOT: Start paying close attention to kitty’s total body posture, as it will tell you everything from fear to submission. To get the full message, you must notice the body talk and at the same time, what eyes, ears, tail, fur, and vocalizations express.

If your cat is relaxed and happy, the ears point slightly forward, with eyes relaxed, and whiskers also pointed forward.

Enter The Cat Language Bible

Animal researcher and Animal Behavior Specialist Jonas Jurgella shares with us some of the findings of a group of Tokyo researchers who work with cats to learn more about how they communicate. They find that cats understand much more about us than we realize.

This new work provides break-through information about cat language. The book goes over very specific thoughts, phrases, and feelings that your cat also communicates with body language. You will also get suggestions as to specific word patterns you can use.

Rather than telling you more, I’m including a video about The Cat Language Bible that can give you the story better than I could. (Note the calmness of the cat he holds.) If you wish, you can order this book for yourself — I believe I’ll get a copy for me. Click on the reference below for order information. Here’s the video:

I will look forward to receiving my own copy of this book — I think I can learn some things from it.

References I used for this post:


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