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Understanding Cat Behavior and Body Language

Often, you may find yourself confused by your cat’s behavior, like why my cat isn’t eating, in spite of feeding them the best cat food, or even their moods. However, there are certain tell-tale signs that can give you an insight into what your cat may be thinking. Their body movements, facial expressions and vocalizations are often indicators of their more obvious moods, while following cat tail signs and body postures can reveal even more. The key to cat care is to be able to recognize these emotional signals and respond to them as and when required.

Below you will find a detailed guide which should be able to answer any questions you have regarding your cat’s behavior.

Neutral (Relaxed)

Shown below is the ideal position for your cat to relax in. They should appear relaxed, content and comfortable in their surroundings.

Signs

  • Their eyes might be blinking softly, or half closed.
  • Their body may appear relaxed and tension-free.
  • They could be stretched out or curled into a ball with their paws tucked underneath.

Focused

Cats are born hunters. You’ll often notice your cat concentrating on a small, moving object; their body language will change as they attempt to discern the most effective way to approach their prey.

Signs

  • Their pupils will be narrowed.
  • Their body posture will be angled towards their target.
  • Cat’s tail will be held low behind them and will begin to twitch along with their hindquarters, as they get ready to pounce.

Happy

A cat which is happy has distinct body language features. This is the best state for you to spend quality time with your cat.

Signs

  • Your cat will appear relaxed and upright, with ears pointed up and forward.
  • When they lay down, their paws may be tucked underneath or they stretch out on their side or back.
  • Your cat’s whiskers will be relaxed and their tail will be till. Your cat’s eyes may be half open or closed.

Anxious

Cats can be very sensitive, especially to change. Hence, during times of unexpected change, it is important that you are able to notice your cat’s symptoms and help them become accustomed to the change.

Signs

  • Your pet’s eyes will be wide open, with pupils dilated into an oval or circle.
  • Their ears may flatten back into their head or swivel around independently.
  • Your cat may begin to cower and the tip of their tail may start moving slowly side to side.

Fearful

Your cat’s body language will instantly change when they feel frightened. During moments like these, try to remove anything which may be causing your cat fear and move slowly so that they do not regard you as a threat as well.

Fearful

  • Your cat’s ears will be flattened against their head, and their pupils are likely to be dilated.
  • They may hiss, spit or growl at the assumed threat.
  • They may run away or crouch down, usually during this time their tail will be slashing vigorously.

Frustrated

Frustration for cats comes in many forms. It could either be short term for eg: not being able to reach their favourite toy or long term for eg: not being able to express their need to hunt.

Symptoms

  • A frustrated cat usually focuses intently on their object of frustration. Their eyes will be wide open, ears and whiskers forward pointing as they harness their energies into the goal.
  • They may pace impatiently if they are unable to achieve their goal.

Angry

The best way to deal with an angry cat is to avoid provoking them, since they may consider it as an added threat. You should remove any possible threats from their surroundings and allow your cat space and time to calm down.

Signs

  • An angry cat will be rigid with stiff whiskers, and tense ears, flattened at the back against the head.

Relieved

When the perceived threat is removed, the angry and frustrated cat will likely act relieved. It is important for you to identify this shift in their behavior and help them feel relaxed and normal.

Signs

  • Their eyes, ears, whiskers and tail will all visibly relax.
  • Their whole body will show relief. Some cats even make a full body stretch to release tension.
   

Now that you know how to identify and understand your cat’s changing behaviour, we are sure you will be able to cater to their mood swings with greater ease. Let the claw play begin!

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