Even when cats are silent, they’re always giving off signals of their current moods. Is your cat feeling playful? Does she want to be approached? Is she fearful? Relaxed? Understanding how your cat’s non-verbal communication differs from that of people and dogs is a simple step you can take toward strengthening your bond.
What Your Cat’s Body Language Says About Her Mood
Friendly cat’s eyes will be alert and blinking, and her ears will be pointed forward while she holds her head up and fans out her whiskers. Aside from looking at her body language, you can also listen to a cat for signs of friendliness. If you hear meowing, she may be looking to interact. Keep in mind that how you interact should be based on the personality of the cat and the context of the situation.
You may have to look closely for indications of fear in your cat, because while her posture may appear calm, a closer look at her face and tail may show distress. A fearful cat may have dilated pupils and flattened ears, and her tail may be held downward, close to her body, while she flattens her whiskers and presses them against her face. Try to minimize sudden or rapid movements when your cat seems fearful, as they may amplify her discomfort.
When a cat is standing with her tail curled, rolling side-to-side or belly up, she’s likely looking for contact and play. Her ears may be pointed forward, as well. Just make sure not to touch her on the stomach, as you would a dog, because this will elicit reflexive, defensive or predatory behaviours that might make her claw or bite your hand.
You can tell if your cat is relaxed by looking at a combination of cues. Make sure you examine her facial expression and body language, as a crouched, relaxed position can look similar to fear. Her ears will be pointed forward, and her tail will be visible, rather than tucked or curled, while her whiskers will remain slightly fanned out, rather than pulled back against her face.
When a cat is showing negative body language, she is most likely not open to contact. It’s probably best not to try to approach or pick her up, especially if the cat is hissing or growling. Her pupils may be dilated, and her ears will be flattened against her head. She may arch her back, and the hair on both her back and her tail may be raised.