This month has turned into a language/communication themed month here at Acoma Animal Clinic. We started out by talking about the sounds pets make and what they may mean and moved on to talking about reading your dog’s body language and what those changes in posture etc. can mean. Well, it wouldn’t be fair if we didn’t take a look at our feline friends now would it? Without further ado, reading your cat’s body language and what they are trying to tell you!
Cat’s Body Language Cues
Showing the Belly
In dogs showing the belly is a common sign of submission, or asking for a belly rub. You have to remember, cats are not dogs and that behavior isn’t necessarily the same across animals!
Cats will lay and show their belly in two highly different situations. In one, they may be really relaxed and content, and rolling over in their lazy good vibes. In the other it’s a stretch (usually followed by extending the claws) that shows that they feel they may be backed into a corner and have to fight tooth and nail.
So if you’ve reached out to pet your cats belly only to be met with claws – that’s why! Know your cat, and look for other cues (such as purring) that can help you gauge what emotion your feline is feeling.
The slow, almost deliberate seeming blink of a cat is meant to show one thing: affection. In the world of predators like cats, closing your eyes is a sign of trust – this other animal is trusted not to come after you so you feel safe to do a nice, slow blink.
If your cat is doing this to another cat or you they are communicating their trust and affection. Give them a few slow blinks back to show you are aware of them, pose no threat, and trust them.
The eyes of your cat will tell you a ton. When a cat is afraid their pupils dilate, or expand. This allows them to take in as much visual data as possible so they can better understand and react to their situations.
If your cat’s eyes are narrowed, they are agitated, angry, or somehow aroused. Their predator instincts are kicking in and their eyes are focusing on specific detail.
Another way cats will communicate with their eyes, well in this case in regards to others’ eyes is the stare! Most cats find a stare threatening. It’s why they go to the person ignoring them or why when they realize they are being watched the freeze.
Now cats eyes will also dilate or restrict based on the ambient light in their environment so make sure you look at other physical cues to know exactly what’s what.
Tails are an accurate and easy to read guide for your cat’s mood. A tail held high shows confidence and comfort. If the tail is curled around another pet or a human it shows their friendliness and being at ease. If the tail points down or is tucked between their legs it shows that they are anxious.
When their tail is upright with the hair standing out on end it is a clear sign your cat feels that they are in danger. This is often paired with an arched back and claws. If you see these you need to back away and let your cat calm down, or encourage whatever is making your cat feel this way to stop.
When you have a better understanding of your cat’s body language, you’ll have a better understanding of their wellbeing. If notice any fast changes in their behavior, body language, or personalities that is a sure sign that something is up! Call your vet and get your furry friend a check-up!