Understanding Your Cat's Body Language

Understanding Your Cat's Body Language
It is fascinating how the body language of cats can almost perfectly describe their moods and emotions. If you learn the basics and spend some time studying your cat and others, you will start to understand your kitty’s behaviour.

Although reading the body language of a cat is an excellent way to understand your fur companion, it is important to be aware of the situation and surroundings.

A cat that is yawning may also have her pupils narrowed and ears flattened backward. Though the signals indicate fearfulness, it might be a wide yawn.

  • Ears facing forward: indicate relaxation and alertness.
  • Flattened sideways ears: indicate fear and alertness.
  • Rotated backward: points to a state of frustration and/or anger.
  • Back and flat against the head: indicates anxiousness, defensiveness and submission.
  • Lowered ears: are a sign of fearfulness.
  • One ear flattened / rotated: cats sometimes swivel only one ear indicating confusion. The cat is unsure of how to deal with the situation.
  • Slow blinking: involving direct eye contact (aka kitty kisses) can be a friendly gesture indicating that the cat trusts you and is relaxed.
  • Rapid blinking: signifies fear and a strategy to avoid direct eye contact in potential conflict situations.
  • Dilated pupils: indicates aggression, excitement, pain or apprehension- basically any type of arousal. The signal, therefore, is very unclear and careful reading of the entire body language should be helpful.
  • Narrowed and slit eyes: indicates self-assurance or anger or that she is sleepy. Cats often sleep with outstretched ears and half-shut eyes. This shows that the cat is sleepy but on high alert.
  • Straight up: friendly and happy.
  • Wagging / swishing: your cat is in a state of emotional conflict.
  • Thrashing / thumping: angry, annoyed or excited.
  • Quivering: pleased, excited.
  • Hooked: friendly but cautious.
  • Held between legs: submissive.
  • Bristling / piloerection: angry or frightened.
  • Twitching: hunting, alerted.
  • Head stretched forward: It indicates friendliness. Cats do this to encourage their owner or other cats to touch.
  • Head held to the side: usually, a cat crouches and holds her head sideways when she is being defensive. You can also notice her ears pointing backward when she appears frustrated and angry.
  • Raised head: during the conflict, a confident cat will keep her head raised. On the other hand, an inferior cat that is defensively aggressive will also keep the head lifted but this will be meant to indicate assertion.
  • Head rub: a head rub between cats is a friendly gesture. 

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