HOW TO UNDERSTAND YOUR CAT BETTER
How to Figure Out Your Cat's Mood
In order to figure out your cat’s mood, you will need to take its body language, tone of voice, and the context into account. An erect tail, forward ears, and purring generally mean that your cat is content and comfortable. On the other hand, a tucked tail and a body that is positioned close to the ground can indicate that your cat is anxious or nervous. If your cat is frightened or angry, its tail may be puffed and you may hear it growling or hissing. Additionally, its ears will be positioned flat and close to its head.
Determining if Your Cat is Content
Look for an erect tail.An erect tail means your cat is happy, confident, and approachable. Additionally, an erect tail with a slight curve or hook at the end, resembling a question mark, means your cat is in a playful mood.
- A tail that is slightly erect and accompanied with a slow swishing from side to side signals that your cat is interested, alert, and focused on an object.
Observe forward ears.If your cat has its ears positioned forward, then it is in a playful or happy mood. Additionally, ears that are positioned straight signal that your cat is alert and interested.
- Swiveling ears also indicate that your cat is alert and listening to something.
Examine slowly blinking eyes.Slowly blinking eyes suggest that your cat feels comfortable, secure, and trusting. Additionally, half-closed eyes indicate that your cat is relaxed and content.
Look for head-butting or body rubbing.A confident, comfortable cat will often head-but as a sign of affection. Sometimes, the head-butt is extended into a full body rub.
- Your cat’s pupils will be slightly constricted as well.
Identify kneading behavior.Kneading, also called “making biscuits,” is when your cat is working its paws on you or a soft surface such as a blanket. It is called kneading because the motion of the cat’s paws resembles the motion your hands make when kneading dough. This means your cat is very happy.
Listen for purring.Most of the time, purring is a sign of contentment. A cat will purr whenever it is happy, even while it is eating.
- However, keep in mind that an anxious or sick cat may purr to calm or make itself feel better.
Identify the Flehmen response.Cats have an extra olfactory lobe located at the roof of their mouths. Therefore, if you see your cat lifting its head, slightly opening its mouth, squinting its eyes and curling its lips back, then it is using its extra olfactory lobe to gather more information.
- This is a common response in cats when they encounter new or interesting smells.
Recognizing an Insecure and Anxious Cat
Look for a low tail.If your cat is anxious or insecure, its tail may be tucked between its hind legs. Its body may also be low to the ground in order to minimize its presence, and it may be looking for a hiding spot.
Observe ears that are turned sideways.They may also be turned back. Turned back ears may indicate that your cat is over-stimulated as well, especially if you are playing with it.
- If your cat displays this behavior while you are playing or interacting with it, then it is time for a break.
Examine slightly dilated pupils.When your cat's pupils are slightly dilated, you will still be able to see parts of the iris. However, a majority of the iris will be covered by the pupil. Slightly dilated pupils means that your cat is feeling submissive or nervous.
- If dilated pupils is accompanied with a twitching tail, then your cat may be more irritated or over-stimulated than nervous.
Listen for a yowl or a howl.The sound of a howl resembles a meow that is long and drawn out. Howling or yowling may indicate that your cat is distressed; for example, it may be in pain or stuck somewhere. If you hear your cat howling, find your cat and try to resolve the issue.
- Unspayed or unneutered cats that howl are exhibiting mating behavior.
- Dementia may cause older cats to howl.
Identifying a Frightened Cat
Look for a puffed tail.If your cat is frightened or startled, its tail may be erect with its hair standing on end, resembling a pipe cleaner. Think of your classic Halloween cat.
- Additionally, a startled cat may have a puffed tail that is low or only slightly erect.
Observe flat airplane-like ears.These ears are flat at the top with the tips pointed outward, resembling an airplane. Flat ears signal that your cat is feeling scared and threatened.
- Your cat may position its whiskers back as well if it is frightened or startled.
Examine dilated pupils.When your cat's eyes are fully dilated, you will not be able to see the iris.Your cat’s eyes will be fully dilated if it is frightened and on the defensive.
Identify an arched back.An arched back is a sure sign that your cat is frightened. Cats arch their back to make themselves appear bigger to their aggressors.
Listen for growling and hissing.A hiss sounds like steam coming out of a kettle or an overloaded radiator. On the other hand, a growl is a deep, guttural sound that a cat can make while its mouth is closed.
- A frightened cat will either do one or both of these things. If this is your cat, leave it alone or try to remove the stimuli that is frightening your cat.
Watch for a “frozen” cat.Some stressed or fearful cats react by shutting down. These cats will often adopt a low body posture and tuck in their feet and tail, doing everything they can to make themselves as small as possible. Cats in this state won't react much to external stimuli and are difficult to move. If your cat is behaving in this way, give them a dark, quiet place to hide and try not to disturb them.
Recognizing an Angry or Aggressive Cat
Look for a whipping tail.A tail that whips back and forth rapidly indicates aggression. Additionally, a tail that is thumping loudly and at a quick pace indicates irritation that is progressing into aggression.
- An angry cat may also have a puffed tail.
Observe ears that are positioned back.Additionally, ears that are positioned back and close to the head signal anger and aggression.
Look for eye contact.While eye contact is friendly for humans, direct eye contact in cats is a threat. If your cat is staring directly at you or another cat, this is an assertive signal that may escalate to aggression.
Identify constricted pupils.When your cat's eyes are constricted, the majority of the iris is visible and its pupils resemble very thin, black slits. Constricted pupils accompanied with a stare indicate a challenge by your cat.
- Give your cat some space if you see this behavior.
Listen for growling.If your cat is growling while lying on its back, then this is a sign of aggression. Your cat may growl until the other cat backs down. If the other cat does not back down, then a fight may ensue.
- A growl may progress to a hiss if your cat is angry and feeling threatened.
Look at the cat's whiskers.If you might need to approach an angry cat, their whiskers can say a lot. Whiskers pinned back, combined with aggression, could mean that the cat is angry enough to bite.
- If your cat is acting aggressive or fearful, try to understand what is causing the issue and whether you can do anything about it. In either case, make sure you give your cat space so that it can calm down.
- A meow is an all-purpose word meant to communicate a greeting, announcement, command, or objection.
- If your cat chirps at you, then it wants you to follow it (usually to its food bowl).
Video: How to understand your cat's body language and mood
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