Cat 101: How to Read Your Cat’s Body Language

How to Read Your Cat's Body Language
Cats are often characterized for their cold, aloof nature. Whereas a dog is a ball of kinetic energy, bouncing and jumping in excitement and doing stuff to be a “good boi,” a cat is a sassy and calm creature that is smarter than its owner.

Of course, these are all stereotypes. Not all dogs are jumpy and not all cats are cold.

However, it is oftentimes easier to read a dog’s behaviour than a cat’s. Having 3 dogs and 5 cats, I have come to observe the difference in body language in both species. While dogs growl when they are mad, a cat absolutely has no warning whatsoever. They don’t really hiss all the time. Sometimes they just freeze and stare at you and the next thing you know, your arm is full of bleeding scratches.

Here are some ways to read your cat’s mood from

Using Their Tails:

  • Tail up –  happy and cheerful and most likely approachable
  • Tail down – scared or threatened
  • Tail moving rapidly back and forth –  while dogs do this when they’re cheerful and excited, for a cat, this is a good indicator that it is agitated and should be left alone
  • Tail moving slowly back and forth – trying to decipher a situation, making up its mind about how it feels
  • Halloween-cat tail – cats with tails curled (like the ones we see in Halloween posters) are not in a good mood and are trying to appear larger and scarier

Using Their Ears:

  • Ears forward – is likely feeling content and playful
  • Ears straight up – alert and wary
  • Ears turned back – most likely irritated, so best to leave them alone
  • Ears turned sideways or back – nervous or anxious
  • Ears back and flat against head – this is a sure sign that the cat is scared and feeling defensive; may also indicate anger or aggression

Using Their Eyes:

  • Dilated pupils – surprised, scared, or stimulated
  • Constricted pupils – tense or possibly feeling aggressive
  • Stare – is likely a challenge from your cat
  • Slow blinking – feels safe, comfortable, and trusting
  • Half closed – relaxed and trusting as well
So before you jump into your kitty, be mindful of their body language and see how they feel. Raising pets is not just about the owner but the pet as well.

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