5 Keys to Decoding Your Cat’s Body Language

Feline communication is primarily nonverbal, though cats may occasionally utilize unusual noises such as howls, chirps, growls, hisses, and meows to convey their message.

Your cat, on the other hand, is always communicating with you in numerous ways. Do you get what she’s saying?

It might be difficult to detect the small indications that suggest when our cats are upset or anxious. The warning signs that cats present are not always evident to the untrained eye. Unfortunately, this means they may be dismissed as minor until the cat exhibits more obvious signs of discomfort, such as frightened attempts to fight or flee. Because feline communication cues are easily misinterpreted — or overlooked entirely — cats are sometimes mislabeled as temperamental and irritable.

It is critical that you learn to listen to your cat in order to minimize stress and conflict. While certain actions can provide insight into your cat’s mental condition, none of them should be read in isolation. It is best to examine several indications to determine how your cat is feeling. Cats may also provide contradictory signals if they are unsure of a situation; for example, your cat’s eyes and ears may suggest “I’m relaxed,” but her tail and body position may say otherwise.

Once you know what to look for, you’ll see that your cat is virtually always speaking to you. Here are five frequent ways your cat communicates with you, as well as what she’s trying to say.

The Tail: An Indicator of Your Cat’s Emotions

Your cat’s tail may tell you how she feels in a given scenario, from relaxed and comfortable to scared and anxious. To tell whether your cat is feeling nervous or disturbed, you need have a good understanding of her average temperament, which is indicated by the height at which she holds her tail when she is relaxed.

When a cat is happy, she will usually hold her tail loosely behind her. When she’s pleased, she may raise it with a tiny twitch or curl forward. A gently moving, twitching, wagging tail indicates attention; you may notice this while your cat is watching a bird through the window or playing with a toy (especially right before she pounces on and bites the toy).

Always pay special attention to a moving tail since it can help you determine a cat’s level of worry or nervousness in a circumstance. When your cat is angry, she may move her tail more quickly and forcefully. This kind of action indicates that she is feeling overwhelmed by the scenario and is not enjoying it.

If your cat is worried about something, she may lower her tail and wrap it beneath her body or around her side if she is lying down. And the bristling out, stiffly held tail that we associate with Halloween cats isn’t simply your feline attempting to look spooky – it’s an indication that she’s afraid.

Ears aren’t just for hearing.

A cat’s ears are full with information. Your cat is typically calm if her ears are forward and slightly to the side. Your cat’s ears may be pointed forward when she is particularly engaged or excited.

Although your cat’s ears may pivot as she pursues a sound, fast-twitching ears may indicate uneasiness and uncertainty. When a cat is scared or disturbed, she may move her ears back against her neck and press them tightly against her head, or she may spread them out to the sides, resembling airplane wings.

The Eyes: A Window to Her Soul

Your cat’s eyes tell a story about her inner state. When she is happy, her pupils will be normal (not dilated) and her eyes will be open or slightly closed, depending on how relaxed she is. When your cat is relaxed, she may make eye contact and hold the gaze for a few moments before looking away nonchalantly or blinking lightly.

However, if your cat is excited and on the verge of being hostile or fleeing, her pupils may change form, either dilating or contracting, and her eyes may appear hard or stiff.

If your cat is staring at something with a fixed gaze, such as a squirrel or another cat, she is preparing to strike or attack. When your cat is afraid, she may avoid eye contact and make darting eye movements as she analyses the situation and hunts for an escape route.

The Muzzle: The Fearful Face

When your cat is comfortable, her whiskers fall away from her face, making them less visible. When she is excited about anything, her whiskers may migrate forth and forward, becoming stiffer. When she is scared, she may press her whiskers against her face.

Another indicator of an anxious cat is sudden licking. If your cat is licking her lips but not eating, she could be scared of something. Similarly, a frightened cat may begin licking, scratching, or grooming herself excessively.

When your cat is agitated, she could not use her tongue to eat. When she is worried, she may be unable to accomplish or enjoy usual things like rewards, caressing, playing, or resting.

The Body: How to Read Your Cat’s Posture

The breathing of a relaxed cat is usually slow and deep. She moves loosely and relaxedly, her claws neatly tucked away.

A cat’s muscles contract up as she becomes increasingly agitated or stimulated. If your cat completely freezes, it could signify she’s preparing to fight, flee, or, in extreme situations, pounce. A stressed cat will move in a rigid, stiff manner.

When a cat is fearful, she may reduce her speed and sink low to the ground (although this slinking position may merely suggest that she is about to pounce on something). Alternatively, she may accelerate her steps to get away from the scenario or threat.

When your cat is stressed, her claws may expand. She may also breathe shallowly and quickly.

A scared cat may try to change her look by: Her fur may fluff up and she may shed excessively. She may arch her back to appear larger, or she may cower or curl up with her extremities held tightly to her body to appear smaller.

A cat resting on her back may be expressing trust or establishing a defensive stance – you must carefully evaluate the situation to know for sure.

Always observe your cat’s physical reactions to a scenario. For example, if you are holding your cat and she is staring down at the floor, tightening her body, and leaning away from you, she is indicating that she wants to be placed down. Respect her request and gently let her down before she feels compelled to claw and wail. After all, you’d expect the same from your pals, wouldn’t you?

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