READING YOUR CAT’S BODY LANGUAGE
CONTENTED & RELAXED
This is usually expressed in the way a cat sleeps or wakes up. This is particularly true when a cat stretched out upside–down. She is totally content and at ease. She is not afraid of being attacked. Upon awakening, a contented cat may yawn lazily and go through a luxurious series of stretching movements. These movements are accompanied by a heavy-lidded blinking of the eyes and a gentle twitching of the whiskers. The yawn really says it all. A long, slow, wide-mouthed yawn with a lot of teeth and a pink tongue is a sure sign that your cat feels safe and secure.
She will be seated quietly with her ears erect, indicating that she is alert and watching all that is happening.
- Soft purring shows contentment.
- Washing with long, slow licks shows relaxation.
- Winding between your legs or jumping up on your lap tells you she likes you.
- When your cat sees you, she will stand with her head lowered, hindquarters raised, tail held straight up. The tail tip will be bent slightly forward and moves from side to side. She is happy to see you.
- Rubbing her cheeks, whiskers, and tail against you is how she places her scent on you–making you her possession. She really likes you!
UPSET, FRIGHTENED OR ANGRY
If your cat is upset with you, likely she will turn her back to you and ignore you. This is her way of showing submission when upset or frightened. She is shutting the unpleasantness out. Many situations can frighten or annoy a cat.
- Being placed in strange or unfamiliar surroundings.
- Approached by a stranger (a person, another cat or an animal).
- The cat will either run and hide until it feels more secure, or display the following body signals:
- Tense body muscles.
- She will remain in a fixed position while assessing the situation.
- The eyes will remain fixed on the stranger.
If your cat is very anxious or afraid, the pupils will be dilated. The eyes will dart rapidly from side to side, looking for a way out. The cat will crouch down with ears flattened sideways across the head. The tail will be held low and the chin will be drawn in. The cat may even roll on her back with a paw raised in self-defense or she may attempt a dash for safety.
Her tail will bush and the hair along her spine may be raised.
Be very cautious in any attempt to handle a cat at this time. You are in danger of being clawed and/or bitten. Cat scratches and bites are painful!!!
The same body language as described above will continue to be displayed, only more menacing. The cat will now stand her ground. Only now, she will:
- Growl, hiss or spit.
- The back will be arched and the fur along the back will stand up.
- The cat will show her fangs with the mouth wide open.
- She will stand sideways and attempt to appear larger and more menacing.
- The tail will arch in an inverted “U” and be bushed.
- The ears will be flat.
- The whiskers will be bristling.
- Attack is imminent!
In extreme situations the cat, who is very frightened, will attack.
The tail will be low and close to the ground, bushed and swinging angrily. A swishing tail can also indicate the cat is deciding what to do. She does not like a situation or, if swished during a play session, she is planning the next play move.
- The cat will be crouched low, in readiness to pounce.
- The ears will be up and furled backwards.
- The eyes will display pupils reduced to slits (to focus better on the intended target).
- The claws will be extended.
- The mouth will open wide with lips curled back and fangs exposed and ready to bite and tear.
- Snarls, hissing, and spitting continue.
Stay Clear! You’ll only be injured if you attempt to touch a cat as described above. Attempt to bring it down to a better disposition by soft, gentle talk and lots of patience
AN ILL CAT
A cat who is ill will usually refuse food, fails to groom herself, and displays the following body signs:
- The tail will be low.
- Will have a hunched-over appearance.
- Will have a miserable facial expression. The eyes will be dull, the facial expression depressed.
- Often will want to be lone in a secluded area.
When your cat wants something, she will definitely let you know!
- She will follow you, meowing, stretching, dipping and rubbing against your legs–in general, attempting to get your full attention.
- Will gaze directly at you while meowing.
- May stretch out her body and touch/pat you with a paw.
- Some cats will simply stare at you (with soulful eyes) until they get what they want.