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Cat Talk – What’s Your Kitty Trying To Tell You

Pet Care Tips 3 min read
Cat Talk – What’s Your Kitty Trying To Tell You

As pet owners, cat body language isn’t always as straightforward as we would like. Confusion with the body language of dogs (which in the language of cats sometimes means the opposite) along with the subtleness of feline non-verbal cues makes it easy to misunderstand our furry companions.

Today, let’s break down cat body language and what it possibly means. It’s common to misinterpret aggression for fear and vice versa, so remember always to take the entire situation into context and then look at your cat’s posture, tail, ears, and eyes to determine their mood.

Common Ways of Showing Affection


Rubbing His/Her Head Against You = “We’re family” or “You’re mine (in a good way)”
Your kitty is leaving her scent on you.

The Butt in Your Face = “Clean Me Please”
Yep.. we know, it’s gross… but it’s their way of saying I need you—you’re my mommy and you need to clean me.

Kneading You = “I’m so happy! You’re taking me back to my kitten days!! I love you”
This was how your cat used to get milk from his/her mom.

Signs of Fear or Aggression

Fear and aggression usually go hand in hand. Be cautious of approaching a cat who is exhibiting aggression, even if it’s only toward an object.

aggression in cats Cat Body Language

Tail Whipping = “I’m a little agitated”
Unlike dogs who wag their tails in happiness, a cat may whip her tail about in agitation.

Dilated pupils, ears half back, or all the way back – “I’m angry, DO NOT come near me”

Purring with whiskers drawn backwards= “I’m scared, or in discomfort”

Note: You may be playing with your cat, and then they may suddenly become annoyed, or over-excited. Move back, and end playtime if you see your cat’s eyes widen and dilate.

Tail Talk From Cat Body Language

Cat Tail Position Meaning Cat Body Language

So much of your kitty’s mood can be told from their tails!

Tail Between Legs = “I’m afraid”

Tail up or lightly hooked = “Helloo! I’m super happy and confident”

Tail down and out = “I’m feeling a little unsure or cautious”

Tail up and bristled= “So scared” or “so angry!”

Recognizing Discomfort or Illness in Cat Body Language

As cats still maintain some of their natural wild nature, it’s natural that they instinctively hide this from everyone, even their pet parents, when they are in discomfort from injury or disease. In the wild, a cat in discomfort is a cat that will have lost its power, meaning less access to the best hunting grounds and the best drinking places.

A pet parent may only know if their cat is ill through a behavior change.

A pet parent may only know if their cat is ill through a behavior change. Ask yourself – Is your cat less playful? More withdrawn? Your cat may show increased aggression. They may do attention-seeking behavior, like scratching furniture or spraying indoors”.

Some common physical displays of illness are:

Holding the ear sideways = “Check me out for an ear infection”

Keeping the back curved =”My tummy hurts” or “My back hurts and I have arthritis”

Is your kitty exhibiting behavior that is out of the ordinary? Remember to take your pet to the veterinarian if you feel they are in discomfort. And if you need any advice or holistic help, remember to call our NHV Pet Experts!

NHV Pet Experts

NHV Pet Experts

We have a dedicated group of pet expert professionals, including veterinarians, vet techs, and other pet professionals to guide you through any questions. We’re committed to your pet’s wellness and can offer additional tips, resources, nutritional advice, and more.

Published: September 14, 2015

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