What is Your Cat Trying to Tell You?

A guide to understanding your cat's non-verbal cues.

Even when cats are silent, they're always giving off signals of their current mood. Is your cat feeling playful, and wanting to be approached? Fearful? Relaxed? This guide will help you identify signals in your cat's body language and facial cues in order to better understand their needs. 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. These illustrations provide a guide, but it's always good to consider the environment and context of the situation to help you read your cat's signals more accurately.

Relaxed

How can you tell if your cat is relaxed? Your answer lies in a combination of cues. Make sure you look closely at her facial expression and body language, as this position can look similar to fear.

Relaxed

Friendly

Aside from looking at his body language, you can also listen to a cat for signs of friendliness. If you hear meowing, he 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.

Friendly

Fearful

Look for these cues for indications of fear in your cat. You may have to look closely because while their posture may appear calm, a closer look at their face and tail shows distress. Try to minimize sudden or rapid movements as they may amplify the cat's fearfulness.

Fear

Playful

When cats are standing with their tails curled, rolling side-to-side or belly up, they're likely looking for contact and play. Just make sure not to touch them on their stomachs, as you would a dog, because this will elicit reflexive, defensive or predatory behaviors that make them claw or bit your hand.

Playful

Negative

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.

Negative

A Look at the Tail

You can learn a lot from a cat's tail - if you know how to read it right. However, you should always make sure not to rely only on the tail position, but also consider it in the context of other signs of body language.

Tail