Cats communicate not only in purrs and growls but in many complex motions, using ears, eyes, tails, and body to express themselves. These expressions are often misunderstood. Here’s a guide to help you better understanding your cat.
Up: Happy and approachable
Down: Scared or threatened
Wagging rapidly: Agitated
Wagging slowly: Alert, assessing the situation
Stiff, up: Trying to appear larger, aggressive
Straight up and quivering: Excited. If your tom cat has not been neutered this gesture can also mean he is ready to spray.
A content cat with its tail up. (Shutterstock)
Forward: Content, playful
Flat against head: Defensive, angry, stressed. It’s good to give the cat the opportunity to hide or get up high.
Swiveling: Attentive, trying to pick up sounds
A playful cat with its ears forward. (Shutterstock)
Dilated pupils: Surprised, scared, stimulated, nervous. If they are fully dilated, the cat may be defensively aggressive. Pupils may also dilate when a cat is playful.
Constricted pupils: Tense, aggressive. Pupils may also constrict, however, if a cat is content.
Note the pupils may also change size simply according to the light.
Slow blinking: Comfortable
Constricted pupils. (Shutterstock)
Dilated pupils. (Shutterstock)
Back arched, fur standing on end: Frightened, angry
Back arched, fur flat: Happy to be petted, welcoming
Belly up: Exposing its belly is a cat’s sign of trust, but it’s better to rub the head than the belly, according to Cats Protection. Rubbing the belly can be like a violation of the trust the cat is expressing. Cats will often nip at or push a human’s arm away when its belly is rubbed.
Rubbing: Cats are marking objects, or their owners, with their scent.
*Image of cat on its back via Shutterstock