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Understanding the Body Language of Your Cat

Most experienced cat owners can pick up on what their cat is trying to tell them through years of experience. Understanding cat body language can sometimes be challenging, though, even for long-time cat enthusiasts.  

That doesn’t mean cats aren’t good communicators, though. Knowing what to look for can give you good insight into your cat’s emotions and help you create a closer bond, and that’s a win for everyone. 

Cat Body Language

Cats primarily use three types of body language to communicate how they’re feeling: their tails, posture and ears. These three indicators are often the easiest for humans to inperpretinterpret. Here’s how to read your cat’s emotions through body language.  

The Tail Has a Tale to Tell

Fortunately, when it comes to the body language of a cat, one of the most helpful indicators is also one of a cat’s most prominent features: its tail. There are times where just by looking at which way a cat’s tail is pointing or how it’s moving, you’ll get an excellent idea if they want to play, cuddle or just want some space to themself. 

The meaning behind the five most common cat tail positions and movements: 

Keep an Eye on Cat Posture

While a cat’s tail can tell you a lot, it’s not the only nonverbal sign of how a cat might be feeling. There’s a lot of cat body language meaning in the posture cats display. Whether it’s crouching, an arched back or a purposeful, upright walk, cat posture can give important clues. 

Five cat postures and their meanings:  

It’s All in the Ears

We’ve already covered two of the most obvious cat body language signals, but we’re not quite done because cats give a lot away by simply moving their ears. As a rule of thumb, how oriented towards the front of a cats face their ears are indicate how they’re feeling. Let’s look at what we can glean from something as simple as how a cat positions its ears. 

Five cat ear positions and what they mean:  

While the vocabulary of cat body language is long and filled with nuance, this is a good starting point in unlocking the language of cats. By learning to read your cat’s body language, you can tell if they seem frightened, angry, affectionate or playful. This way, cats will know you’re listening—or, more accurately, watching—and that you care.  

There’s a lot more to learn about cats’ behavior by reading what our pet experts have to say on our Pet Expertise page.