What are some ways to analyze cat body language?

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Answered by: Steve, An Expert in the Caring for Cats Category
Cat owners often wonder what's going through their furry friend's mind. Though it may not seem apparent at first, almost every aspect of the cat's body is a tell-tale sign of how it is feeling. Studying cat body language is as simple as watching out for certain verbal and non-verbal cues. With a little practice, anybody can learn more about their cat and even communicate back once certain patterns are clearer.

The slightest changes in a cat's body language are an indicator of the cat's mood. From the tips of the ears to the end of the tail, spotting tiny movements and cues can help pet owners determine their pet's demeanor. Focus on these key areas, and be sure to watch out for synergy between body parts, as it indicates stronger emotions and thought patterns.


Among humans, the eyes are often called the windows to the soul, and it turns out that the phrase is also applicable to cats. A basic way to understand cat body language is to pay attention to the form of the pupils. Pupils that are small and thin are in a neutral position, especially if it is bright in the room, as the cat's pupils do not need to dilate as much to see clearly. Thin pupils often describe a relaxed cat, though they may also imply active aggression, especially if the cat is hissing or providing other hostile verbal cues. If the pupils are dilated and big, the cat may be nervous or submissive. Watch the rest of the cat's body: if it is crouching low to the floor with its ears flat, it is afraid and defensive. If the cat is focused on something and its ears are forward, it might be feeling playful.


Because of how often and quickly the position of the cat's ears change, paying attention to this body part is a great way to read the cat's mind. If the cat's ears are forward, they are in a resting position. The cat may be alert, intent, interested in something or simply content. If the cat's ears are back, it is feeling irritated or angry, and if they are only a little down, creating a flat surface on top of its head, it may be afraid. The flatter the cat's ears are against its head, the more intense its current feelings. Watch for subtle changes, and avoid negative actions if the cat's ears begin to display irritation or discomfort.


The cat's tail is another frequently moving and changing part of its body. When the tail is erect, with its fur flat, the cat is feeling happy or inquisitive, especially if the tail flicks around gently. If the tail is erect with the fur bristled and standing on end, the cat is angry or scared. If the tail is held low between the cat's legs, it is feeling anxious or uncertain. If the tail is flicking at a faster pace in a neutral position, the cat is feeling agitated. This is a warning sign of an incoming bite or scratch, especially if the tail moves even more rapidly and the cat accompanies the motion with other body cues, such as keeping its ears back.

By keeping these visual and auditory cues in mind, cat owners can interpret their pet's feelings with ease and confidence.

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