Why Is My Cat Looking at Me Like That? A Guide to Cat Body Language
Of course, context matters when discussing body language and meaning. Our cat friends are funny little creatures who are hard to understand. Instead of speaking our language, cats, like ourselves, use their bodies to communicate with others. We can tell what our cat buddies tell us and feel through their tails, ears, body, and eyes.
What a Cat’s Body Language Means
One of the most common signs of body language we see in cats is lifting their tail. Some cats lift their tails high or low, depending on their exact emotion.
When our feline companions are walking around with a high tail, this could mean many things. When the tail is high, this can let us know, their owners and family, that they are feeling confident and happy. When their tails are held high, they are almost showing off.
However, there is also a double meaning to this. When their tails are high, they can also be ready to attack something either playfully or aggressively. This truly depends on the situation. If your cat is watching something, like a bug, they are most likely about to pounce when their tails shoot up nice and tall.
Swishing or Low Tail
Another common tail sign is a tail that is either swishing or low. This usually never indicates something positive in cats. If you notice your cat is swishing their tail, it means that they are irritated or anxious. Something around them is stressing them out.
To calm down your cat that is reacting to stress by swishing its tail, it is essential to provide them with a safe space they can run to. This can be under a couch, in a separate room, or in a corner that is away from others. Cats are good at calming themselves down, but it is important to know when they are feeling nervous.
Not only do tails allow us to figure out what cats are telling us, but so do their ears. Cat ears are typically triangle-shaped and pointed up but move constantly depending on their mood.
Forward and Tall
When cats have their ears pointed forward and tall, this is a good sign. Their pointed ears indicate that they are calm, happy, and enjoying themselves. During this sign, they are typically alerted to something going on around them. Most of the time, they raise their ears when playing or enjoying their rest.
Flat Down Ears
Ears that are flat and facing downward can indicate that there is something wrong. When the ears are flat, the cat is typically outwardly expressing that they are angry or scared. The distinction between both of these emotions, of course, first comes from context.
For example, if your cat has been playing with another cat and the cat is being rough, their ears may lay flat in anger as a warning that they will attack if the other cat does not stop. The ears can be a warning or a sign that they are nervous. Some cats, for instance, fear loud noises, and their ears will automatically lay flat with rolling thunder.
Posture is everything for cats! The way they stand and the direction they face can tell us a lot about what they are feeling and what they need from us.
Normal Posture Facing Forward
When your cat is engaging in a normal posture, this typically means that they are feeling relaxed and filled with content. Normal posture is when cats are not tense. They are sitting and are faced forward to their owner or pet friend.
This can also indicate that they want attention. Their body posture is calm, open, and facing towards the person, they want affection from. Be sure to give your cat lots of extra cuddles, love, and hugs when they are positioned faced forward.
When you see a cat that is crouched and has a low posture, this can mean one of two things; they are afraid, or they are in hunt mode. Cats crouch and try to stay away from things that they are fearful of. Some things they may be afraid of include:
- Spraying Water
- Loud Noises
- Bright Flashing Lights
Once the stressor is taken away, their posture is sure to change and straighten out. Fear is not the only message being crouching, however. When cats crouch, they can also be getting ready to pounce and hunt down their prey. Cats are great at catching bugs and will not hesitate at jumping and capturing them in your home.
The eyes truly are the window to the soul, and this is very true about cats. Our feline friends have great vision and large eyes with clear pupils. Small changes in pupil shape can tell us what they want.
Sometimes cats will begin a staring competition with their owners. This cute and hilarious motion is a message to their owners that they are trying to establish dominance and control. They may lash out and attack to gain control. Unblinking stares in a cat look like large eyes with slits for pupils.
When you see large pupils in a cat, they are either active and alert or full of trust. When your cat’s eyes are large, they are attentive and looking for something. This could be a fly buzzing around the home or their toy that they accidentally flung across the room and misplaced.
Also, they may be a sign that they trust you. Large pupils tell us that the cat is aware of you and is open to you.
Schertz Animal Hospital Can Answer Any of your Cat Body Language Questions
All in all, it is important to understand the basics of the cat language. While cats can be vocal, using meows and purrs to communicate, their body language can tell us more. Creatively cats use their eyes, ears, body, and tail to send warnings and messages to their owners and other animals. These messages can be both positive and negative, depending completely on the context.
If you have any questions or concerns about your cat’s body language, you can schedule an exam for your feline with our team at Schertz Animal Hospital. Request an appointment online or give us a call at (210) 659-0345.
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