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Understanding Your Cat

frightened cat, hair raised

Just because your cat isn’t miaowing doesn’t mean that he’s not talking to you and the other animals around him, in fact he is using body language.

 
Cats use lots of body positions and movements to show how they are feeling and if you watch carefully you will start understanding their moods. Below are four important emotions and the ways that a cat uses different body parts to express each feeling.
 
 
                                                                        body language-frightened cat Frightened
 Ears: Flattened ears – if terrified his ears will lie straight backwards.
Eyes: The more fearful a cat is the wider his pupils become.
Head and tail: Flattened whiskers and his tail between his legs show that a cat doesn’t want to fight and is scared.
Body: A cat often spits when frightened – this is a sign of anger too. He will also make himself as small as possible, retreating into crouched position.  
 
 
Happybody language -happy cat
Ears: Perky ears that face forward.
Eyes: Relaxed eyes, often appearing half-open.
Head and tail: If a cat’s head is stretched forward he is encouraging touch and trying to get a better look at your face, this is a greeting message. Cats that get on well will often rub cheeks with each other. A raised tail is a friendly gesture and shows happiness.
Body: Yawning and stretching show that a cat is very contented and feels safe.  
 
bodylang-angry
Angry
Ears: Upright ears which are slightly pushed back.
Eyes: The pupils narrow to vertical slits. If confronting a rival, both cats may try to stare each other out.
Head and tail: An angry cat will lower his head in an aggressive way and push his whiskers forward. His tail will stick straight upwards with the hair standing on end (known as bristling). If a cat’s tail thrashes from side to side it can be a sign of irritation but it can also show extreme excitement, so be careful!
Body: As well as spitting, an angry cat will arch his back and straighten his back legs, raising the fur along his spine.  
 
Threatenedbody language -threatened cat
 
Ears: Ears flatten sideways (combining the ‘angry alert’ and the ‘fearful flat’ ear positions).
Eyes: Pupils widen
Head and tail: A horseshoe-like tail shows defensive aggression.
Body: If threatened, the cat will try to make himself look bigger by puffing out his fur and arching his back.

 
 

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