Cat Body Language

You don’t need psychic powers to know what your cats thinking because they’re probably already telling you through their body language. Learning to read your cat’s body language is as close as you can get to actually talking to your cat. From listening to the sounds and watching the body language your cat displays you can tell exactly how your cat is feeling.

A cat lying down wanting attention from its owner

Some scientists believe that cats’ body language uses 25 different visual signals in 16 different combinations. We may not be able to pick up on the subtleties of cat language but we can learn to understand the basics. This section will teach you how to read your cat’s body language and even how to talk back to your cat with sounds.

Happy And Content

  • Face – Your cat’s ears will be facing forwards, her whiskers will be relaxed and her eyes will be half closed. She may be blinking slowly which shows that she feels safe and trusts you.
  • Posture – Your cat may be sat or more likely lying. She may be lying outstretched or on her front with her paws neatly tucked underneath her.
A relaxed happy cat with half closed eyes


  • Face – Your cat’s ears may be pricked up turning as she listens to different sounds, or they may be flat (also known as aeroplane ears). Her eyes will be wide with dilated pupils. Her whiskers will be pointing down and backwards, but may flick forward every so often.
  • Posture – Your cat will be crouching and cowering. Her tail maybe tucked underneath her between her legs or it may be flicking from side to side.
An anxious cat with dilated pupils and whiskers pointing down


  • Face – Your cat’s eyes will be fully dilated, and wide not blinking. Her ears will be flat against her head.
  • Posture – Her tail will be between her legs or flicking vigorously from side to side. Her back will be arched. The fur on her back and tail will be standing on end and her front legs will be straight with her hind legs bent crouching. Her tail will appear much fatter than normal. She may lash out with her paws if she can’t run away from what she is scared of.
A scared cat showing the arched back and flattened ears


  • Face – Your cat’s mouth will be open showing her teeth, her eyes will be wide, unblinking but the pupils will be narrow slits. Her ears will be flat against her head facing backwards.
  • Posture – She will be either standing tall with her hair on end trying to make herself look big or she will be crouching low ready to lash out.
An angry cat with flattened ears an open mouth and dilated pupils

Tail Signals

  • Wagging or flicking from side to side – This is a sign that your cat is beginning to be irritated.
  • Thumping her tail on the floor – This is warning sign. Your cat is telling you she wants you to leave her alone.
  • A big arch in her tail – This indicates aggression, it is likely that your cat will lash out at you.
  • Hair on tail and back standing on end – This is a sign of fear and anxiousness. If your cat is doing this they are feeling threatened.
  • Tucked underneath her legs – This is a sign of submission.
  • Relaxed at a slightly downward angle – This means your cat is feeling relaxed and content.
  • Erect with or without a curl at the end – This a typical greeting posture, your cat is feeling friendly and is wanting an interaction with you.
  • Erect, quivering or shaking – This means your cat is either about to spray, or is very excited.