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How To Read Your Cat’s Body Language

9 ways to tell what your cat's feeling

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Illustrated by Kim Smith

Cats communicate with us exclusively through body language and vocalizations! They may be hard to read sometimes, but tail positions, stances, or ear positions are cat body language cues that can give you insight into what your cat is feeling emotionally. Here’s how to read your cat’s body language with easy to follow illustrations!

The Crouched “Play Bow” Position

Cat body language meaning: Bring It!

When your cat is crouched in a low “play bow” position with their ears slightly forward and their rear in the air, they are ready to pounce, play, and hunt.

Upright Tail and Ears

Cat body language meaning: Hello There!

When your cat is standing a proud position with their ears and tail upright, they are in a content and friendly mood and ready for pets.

The Slight Arch with Ears Up

Cat body language meaning: I Don’t Know About This…

When your cat is slightly arching their back and their ears are standing straight up, they are friendly, but uncertain about a sound, smell, or something newly introduced into their environment.

Belly Up! The Exposed Cat Tummy

Cat body language meaning: I’m Completely Comfortable and All is Right with the World.

If your cat is showing you their belly, that is an ultimate sign of trust and contentment! This is also a sign they are entirely relaxed and feeling secure in their environment.

Swishing Tail, Upright Ears, Whiskers Forward

Cat body language meaning: I’m Crazy About You!

When your cat’s tail is swishing, their ears are upright, and their whiskers are pointing forward they are very excited, happy, and pleased to see you.

Watch Out! Flicking Tail and Flat Ears

Cat body language meaning: I’m Going to Get You (Maybe)!

When your cat is flicking their tail and their ears are flat, they are either excited, angry, or irritable. This could mean it is time to play or it is time to give them some space! Try giving them one of their favourite toys to engage the seeking circuit and see how they react.

Arched Back, Flat Tail and Flat Ears

Cat body language meaning: I’m Mad!!!

If your cat’s back is arched and their ears and tail are flat, it means they are fearful and feel threatened. This means they may become aggressive and it is important for you to find the source of their fear and help them feel secure.

Ears Back, Tail Down

Cat body language meaning: Leave Me Alone!

When your cat’s ears are pointing back, their tail is down, and their back is arched, this means they are feeling defensive and it could lead to aggression.

Erect Tail and Ears

Cat body language meaning: S’all Good!

When your cat’s tail and ears are erect and they are standing normally, it means they are feeling relaxed, confident, and alert.

Want to know more about your cat’s body language? Find out what your cat’s tail position is trying to tell you.

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