The secret language of cats

Cats are mysterious creatures. Their moods can change rapidly – it can be hard to know what to do, and when! But don’t worry. We’re here to help you understand what’s going on inside that little feline head. Our first tip? It’s not just about the meowing. it’s also about body language. Pay attention to the ears, tail, eyes and body posture and you'll be closer to understanding cats.
Cat lying on sunny garden licking its paw

Happy

Her eyes will be relaxed, her tail and ears upright.  If her tail is upright and quivering, she's delighted to see you. Happy cats will also roll onto their sides, laying fully outstretched with their belly showing.

What should you do?

Let her sniff your hand and pat her on the head, not the tummy. Even if she’s showing you her tummy, she probably won’t like it, unless you specifically know your cat likes a good tummy rub!

Scared

She'll have a crouched body and flattened ears. She may tuck her tail between her legs and possibly lick her nose. If she’s really scared and feels threatened, she’ll arch her back and fluff up her tail to make herself look big; you can often see cats do this when confronted by other cats or dogs.

What should you do?

Give her space to run away to a safe place and leave her to calm down. When she feels OK again, she’ll come back out.

anxious cat

Anxious

She'll have open and unblinking eyes, dilated pupils, a lowered head and ears twitching as they listen intently, scanning the room for danger. Sometimes an anxious cat will move her whiskers forward, and if she's really stressed she may begin to cower.

What should you do?

Help her relax by approaching slowly, you can also reassure her by stroking her head.

Relieved

Once the perceived threat has passed, your cat will relax her body, just as a human would. She may even stretch out to further release the tension, or even yawn and wash herself.

What should you do?

Pet her to help her relax more quickly.

Ferocious cat with yellow eyes standing on white background.

Angry

Your cat will have a rigid body, a stiff, straight tail, and flattened ears when she's cross. Depending on how angry she is, she might also be hissing and make spitting sounds, or even a low growling noise. She’ll narrow her eyes and pupils, and her whiskers will be stiff and away from her face.

What should you do?

Don’t provoke her any further! Cats this angry could lash out and hurt you. It's vital not to make any sudden movements and definitely don’t try to touch her. The best thing to do is move away slowly – or carefully remove whatever it is that is threatening her. Your cat will calm down in her own time.

A tail is worth a thousand words

Cats are complicated little things, and they have a whole range of other moods. So take a look at this handy little guide by Purina, it'll help you understand what they could be trying to tell you. Whether your cat is happy, angry or anxious, we've a range of Pet Insurance cover to meet your needs.
(First published on 12/09/2014)

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