Communicating with your cat isn’t impossible—you just need to learn his language. There are certain clues about your cat’s body language that can give you some insight into your furry family member’s feelings. Their eyes, the tone of their voice or the position of the ears; the motion of his tail could all reveal to you what your cats thinking. Understanding what you’re cat is saying can be clear once you understand what these mean:
#1: Belly Displays
Cats and dogs are not the same. That seems obvious, especially to dog lovers, but a lot of the time people forget that what applies to dogs doesn’t apply to cats. Cats are the rulers of subtly and thus their body language is subtle. When your cat rolls over and display’s his belly, a lot of people think “oh he wants belly rubs! He loves me!” and then are thoroughly disappointed when the belly rubs turn to devouring your hand. Your cat can be perfectly comfortable revealing their belly to you but not be so happy to have you pet it. Knowing when to give your kitty a belly rub and when not to will truly depend on your cat alone.
#2: A Fluttering Blink
No, your cat isn’t winking at you nor does he have something in his eye (usually). Cats say hello by greeting you with a slow, languid blink. It’s their way of saying “hi, I like you, welcome to my space”. By them slowly blinking, they’re expressing that they’re aware of your presence but they don’t feel threatened at all. The next time it happens, say hello with a long blink yourself.
#3: Halloween Pose
Everyone knows this pose. A cat’s back is arched, their hair is standing up, their tails are puffy and that is the biggest, undeniable sign of your cat saying “I am so not ok right now”. They feel threatened by whatever is around them (a new cat or maybe even your broom if he’s a little strange). Whatever the source of threat, you should remove it right away or find a better way to introduce your cat to it.
#4: Direct Stare
Cats are just like almost every other animal. Direct eye contact feels threatening and is a sign of dominance. When a cat is feeling particularly afraid, their pupils will dilate to allow as much visual information in as possible. Myrna Milani, DVM, is an animal behaviorist at Tipping Point Animal Behavior Consulting Services and she has found that this bug-eyed, direct stare is not one of friendliness or aroused, but one of fear instead.
#5: Audio Clues
Cats make a lot of different noises. They meow, they purr, they’ll make high pitched chattering noises to name a few. But what do they mean?
- Purring: This generally means that they are seeking comfort and contentment. Purring is the way that cats self soothe when they are in need of some affection and also when they are happy and content.
- High-pitched chattering: this is friendly chattering
- Growling, hissing, spitting: stay away! Back off—this cat is not happy.
Caterwauling: A very loud, deep sound that cats can make when they’re feeling threatened by other cats. It’s also a common sound for deaf cats, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they feel threatened.
There are a lot of different signs and clues your cat can tell you with their body language and voice but at the end of the day, cats are as unique with individual personalities as people.