For centuries cats have been a fascinating topic among different cultures. This is because cats may often be described as elusive, mysterious creatures. Today, many of us still remain enthralled in our cat’s behavior. In fact, understanding your cat’s body language has become an area of particular interests to animal behaviorists.

So, in this article we’ll cover all you need to know about how you can read— and interpret, your cat’s body language.


Cats Eyes, Ears and Head: Reading Your Cat’s Facial Features

It may not seem like it, but you can actually tell a lot about your cat’s “mood” by simply examining their facial features as a whole.


Reading Cat Eye Language

They say the eyes are like windows into the soul. When it comes to reading your cat’s eyes you will want to look at how dilated and wide they are. When your cat has dilated eyes this can be an indication of fear, or anger.

Cat eyes

Generally, cat’s eyes will dilate when they’re angry or about to fight. However, you need to take the current situation as a whole into consideration. For example, cats who may be watching something or striking at an object will also dilate their eyes.

Have you ever wondered why your cat stares at you for a long time? From an evolutionary perspective, cats evolved as desert animals. So, technically it’s not natural for them to blink a lot. The reason cats tend to stare at you without blinking, is because they are either focusing on you or are studying you.


Reading Cat Ear Language

White Kitten with ears pointed foward

It’s actually pretty easy to learn what the different positions of your cat’s ears mean. Listed below are the very general meanings behind your cat’s ear positioning.

  • A Relaxed kitty: Ears are forward and slightly tilted.
  • The Curious Cat: Ears are facing forward completely, ears may be moving around trying to capture every sound.
  • The Scared or Nervous Kitty: Ears will lie flat, facing backwards.
  • The Angry Cat: Eats will remain flat, but will face sideways.


The Different Head Positions of Your Cat

When trying to decipher your cat’s varying head positions—it’s important to consider the whole body posture, and positioning of the ears and eyes as a whole.


Cat Body Language and Posture

The first part of understanding your cat’s body language and posture is to analyze the different positioning of their head. Here we will look at what common head actions and positions could mean!



Cats head butting

Head-butting is a way cats have of marking territory and ownership by leaving their scent behind. However, it is also a way to express love and care. Cats are notorious for head-butting their owners and other cats as a show of affection.


Head tilted

Cat with tilted head

Animal behaviorists are unsure of what it means when a cat tilts their head. One possibility is that when cats do this, it means they’re disoriented. Another explanation is that they’re trying to, once again, show affection. If you’re cat tilts their head when they look at you, chances are, they’re showing their love.


Head lowered to the ground

Head lowering in cats can mean two completely different things. Cats lower their heads when they’re feeling submissive, but also when they’re feeling aggressive and ready to attack. To successfully decode what their actual mood is, it’s best to observe other body language signs such as those from their ears and tail.


Cat Body Language: Paws


Retracted or Extended Claws

A cat that has their claws retracted is a relaxed cat. When their claws are extended and visible, they are showing hostility and getting ready for a fight.


What does Cat Kneading Mean

Kneading indicates happiness and contentment. Cats usually knead their favorite human’s limbs and lap to show appreciation and pleasure. Baby kittens knead their mother’s breasts to stimulate milk production and create a stronger maternal bond.


Paws Tucked under the Body

Cat lying down with paws tucked under body

Only cats that feel comfortable and safe tuck their paws under their body. It means they’re not worried about creating escape routes or being suddenly attacked. You’ll often see a cat tuck their paws underneath their body when feeling safe and is also a great way they conserve body heat.


Cat Body Language: A Cat’s Body

Your cat’s body can be the biggest give-away to your cat’s mood! In fact, it’s very easy to understand your kitty’s current mood just by looking at their body posture. Here we will cover what common postures such as an arched back, exposed stomach, and rolling over could mean!


Cat Arched Back

Cat with arched back

This is a sign for trouble. Cats will arch their back if they feel threatened or in danger, getting ready for an attack. By arching their back it makes them seem larger, which can help to chase off predators.


A Cat Showing its Belly

A cat showing their belly is the most relaxed and vulnerable cat. They are not afraid to be suddenly attacked and trust their surroundings. If your cat is doing this, it’s cause to be happy! Your Cat feels safe and comfortable around you. Keep in mind that this isn’t necessarily an invitation for a cat belly rub. A Cat’s tummy is a vulnerable spot and most Cats will not enjoy having their belly rubbed.


A Cat Rolling Around

Cat rolling on back playing

When a cat is content and trusts their surroundings they will roll over on their back as a way to gather attention. They are in a playful and loving mood and want their human and cat friends to play and shower them with attention and love.


Understanding Your Cat’s Tail Movements

Cat tail

Decoding your cat’s tail movements can be a really easy thing to learn. To make things simple, we’ve created an easy list on all the different types of tail positions your cat shows—and, what each of them mean!

  • Question mark tail position: Any tail that is set high, slightly curved at the tip, and resembles a question mark will indicate that your cat is looking for something fun to do. In other situations, the question mark position says that your cat wants to play!

  • Tails that are straight up indicate that your cat is simply relaxed.

  • If their tail is low then this can potentially mean that your kitty is either watching something with caution, or is not in a good mood.

  • Cats whose tails are puffed up is a sign that they are upset or angry. Often puffed tails indicate that the cat is in a defensive state and will attack if provoked.

  • Slow wagging tails could mean that your kitty is simply focusing on something happing around them or has an specific object in mind.

  • A fast wagging tail however can indicate that your cat is really upset or fearful. Fast wagging tails are usually a warning sign from your cat before they decide to attack.


Becoming a Cat Whisperer! It’s a lot Easier Than You Think

Believe it or not—trying to decode your cats “moods” and behavior is a lot easier than you think. All we owners need to do is to be observant of our cat’s body posture and body language. With a little patience and practice you’ll become a cat whisperer in no time!

Do you have a question about cat body language? Let us know in the comments below!



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