Body Language in Cats: What Are They Really Saying?

Body Language in Cats: What Are They Really Saying?

Sometimes it’s obvious how your cat feels, especially when your cat rubs against your legs and purrs with contentment. Or maybe your cat is hissing at the neighbor’s dog; that's a clear message, too! Other times, interpreting your cat's body language can be a big challenge. What does it mean when your cat’s tail thumps back and forth? Why is your cat sitting and staring at another human or animal?

Cat Chat: Feline Body Language Secrets

Below, our Las Vegas cat veterinarian deciphers some of the most common non-verbal feline body language:

The eyes have it.

Most feline communication begins with the eyes. If a cat gives a friendly look, it usually holds its head up and gives a soft or quick blink. Cats that are territorial, on the other hand, will sit and stare. A submissive cat will look away, turning the head down, the ears back, and the eyes glancing away in fear. Fearful cats often crouch; doing so sends a message they are smaller and not threatening. The dominant cat may even growl or let out a scream to scare away the other cat.

The tail matters, too.
Happy, content cats softly swing their tails or hold their tails up with a slight curve to the tip. An agitated cat will start to swish the tail more rapidly. A thumping, swishing tail is the equivalent to your cat screaming, “Hey! Something’s wrong!” As owners, we can sometimes put our cats in situations that are upsetting or stressful. If your cat is crouched with a swishing, thumping tail, this is a sign your cat is upset or distressed.

An arched back: good or bad?

If your cat’s back is arched with its fur standing on end, your cat is frightened or angry. However, if its back is arched with flat fur, this is a sign your cat is welcoming your touch and inviting you to pet him.

Puzzled by your cat’s body language? Talk to our cat veterinarian to learn more!

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Monday
7:30 am - 6:00 pm
Tuesday
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Wednesday
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7:30 am - 6:00 pm
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7:30 am - 6:00 pm
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