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Understanding Cat Body Language

Understanding Cat Body Language

Mystified by your cat’s behaviors? General signals can help you understand.

Cats are beloved household pets, each having a unique personality and lovable nature. Although many might believe these creatures are cold and cruel, all of them crave love and attention at some level at the end of the day. While cats can differ greatly in personality, there are general traits to each one that demystify what it wants or needs or feels. Below are several categories of cat body language to understand.


For every category, one gesture can have an opposite meaning, depending on the context and other cues. If a cat’s tail is high, it could either mean it feels confident or threatened. Facial expression can help you tell which it is. If the tail is low, the cat is likely feeling guarded. A quivering tail likely shows positive emotion, while a flicking one indicates agitation.


Cat posture can also tell you how it is receiving you. If a cat faces you directly, it is friendly and interested, but if it is slightly off-center, it may be reserved. If it faces you sideways, either it is positioning to make a quick escape, or it is letting its guard down around you. A relaxed or tense stance will help you tell which.

Arched Back

There’s a stereotype of the black cat with its back highly arched, fur standing up and eyes fierce. If a cat arches its back, it can certainly mean defense and aggression, given the context and the other cat body language cues. However, it can also be its way of stretching or helping you get the right spot when you go to pet it.


Eyes are also a huge cat body language indicator. Dilated pupils indicate stimulation, which could be positive, negative, or neutral given the situation. Otherwise, the cat is relaxed, and slow blinking will show this even more.


You may have noticed a cat’s ears stand in a different position depending on if it is afraid, alert, or relaxed. Cats’ ears face forward when relaxed, but can be more erect when alert and lowered when threatened.

Lying on Its Back

People often think a cat lying belly-up is an invitation for belly rubs, only to stick their hand in the Venus Cat Trap. There will be a relaxed or guarded nature to let you know what this posture indicates; some cats roll on their backs as a sign of trust and are begging for attention.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 12th, 2021 at 11:26 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.