Interpreting Your Cat’s Body Language

Cats are notorious for being mysterious, kept-to-themselves creatures. Have you ever wondered what your cat is thinking? Here, a Tampa veterinarian offers insight into your cat’s body language so you can understand your feline friend better!

The Tail

The tail is a key indicator of emotion in most cats. A gently curled and raised tail means your cat is playful and happy. A straight, “flagged” tail indicates your cat’s senses have been aroused, perhaps in light of a perceived threat. Sudden whips of the tail could mean a forthcoming attack. A tail tucked between a cat’s legs indicates submission or fear.

The Body

A relaxed-looking body means your cat is, well, relaxed and content. If your cat’s body seems tense, your cat could be perceiving a threat. A low crouch with the eyes averted is a classic defensive signal for cats, and it could mean your cat is ready to defend herself.

The Head

Does your cat stretch her head forward, inviting petting or a behind-the-ear rub? This maneuver indicates that your cat is looking for contact. A lowered or sideways head indicates that your cat isn’t interested in contact. Sometimes, you’ll see this move when your cat comes across another cat—it means they’re not looking to fight.

The Legs

A cat that bends down on both the front and back sets of legs is in full defense mode. It’s best to get out of the way if your cat is bending down and looking at you! If you see your cat stretch her legs out, it could mean she’s fully confident in herself, or it could mean she’s ready to attack. Pay attention to your cat over time to determine how she might use her legs to signal behavior.

The Ears

Ears that are pointed upwards and forwards usually indicate interest or slight tension. Rigid ears that are turned backwards mean your cat is expecting an impending attack. Of course, this ear position is often accompanied with other obvious signs of distress and warning, like hissing.

Remember: all cats are different, and no two may use the same signals to convey the same thing. Ask your Tampa veterinarian for more information about your cat’s body language so you can get to know her on an even deeper level!

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