HOW TO READ YOUR CAT’S EYES, EARS, BODY AND TAIL
We’ve all secretly (or openly and unashamedly) wished we could have a conversation with our cat. Their intelligence is undeniable, who wouldn’t want access to the secrets they hold? Truth is, your cat may be saying more than you know, and they’re not always being subtle about it. By paying attention to their body language, you can easily gauge exactly what your cat is feeling. Read on to learn how your cat is speaking to you through its eyes, ears, body and tail!
Does your cat ever look at you and slowly blink? This is a sign they are feeling comfortable and affectionate, and they fully trust you. Next time you notice your cat doing this, try doing the same thing back! This lets the cat know that you come in peace. On the other hand, if your cat’s eyes are wide and focused with dilated pupils, you should give them some space. This might mean your cat feels threatened and scared. Follow their gaze to see what’s scaring them; it’s probably just the vacuum again, but you should still keep your distance and let them calm down on their own.
A cat’s ears are a clear indicator of their emotions. When happy and comfortable, a cat’s ears will face forward, as normal. If their ears are moving in all directions, they are alert and attempting to hear everything going on at once. The ear positions you need to watch out for are backward, sideways or flat. This means your cat is feeling upset and agitated, and you shouldn’t try to touch or interact with them.
When your cat’s back is arched, take notice of their fur to decipher what it means. If their fur is standing up, they are either fearful or irritated, but if their fur is flat–and they may be rubbing up against you–it’s an invitation to pet them. Does your cat often lie on its back with its belly exposed? Not only is this adorable, but it often means your cat is comfortable and happy. But let’s not forget that cats are complicated beings, so of course this is not always the case. Mieshelle Nagelschneider of The Cat Behavior Clinic told Real Simple that owners should pay attention to their cat’s overall body language in this position. If a cat’s ears are flat and pupils dilated while on their back, they may be ready to attack, so you should keep your distance.
Yes, it’s time to discuss one of the greatest attributes of a cat: the tail. Whether your cat’s tail is huge and fluffy, short and skinny or somewhere in-between, it is a telling indicator of how she is feeling at any given moment. If a cat’s tail is standing up straight, but is not “fluffed,” this means they are excited and alert. Try saying something positive in a cheerful voice when your cat is at ease, and you will often see their tail go straight up. But if a cat’s tail is straight up with its fur standing on end, they’re frightened. Cats will indicate that they feel nervous or apprehensive by holding the tail low and sometimes between the legs. Have you ever been petting your cat peacefully, when suddenly their tail starts thrashing? This is their way of telling you “I’ve had enough, leave me alone now.”
Cats have a reputation for being secretive, aloof and sometimes even conniving, but now that you know what to look for, you might find that your cat is not always as secretive as she thinks. So, the next time you find yourself talking to your cat, pay close attention because she may have a lot to say!
Dana Mack is a freelance writer and copy editor living in Illinois. She recently graduated from Columbia College Chicago, where she studied multimedia journalism. Dana enjoys arts & culture and outdoor/recreation writing, and aspires to move out West in the future.