How to understand your cat’s behaviour

Don’t speak cat? Don’t worry! Look out for some of these signs so you know how your cat is feeling.

November 11, 2021

Doctor Doolittle could talk to the animals – unfortunately we can’t! Take note of the eyes, the tail, the mouth, and your cat’s posture for a few clues.  

Your cat is showing signs of happiness if they are:

  • Standing with a relaxed body posture. Their ears will be in a natural position with their tail upright and slightly curved at the tip. Their eyes will be a normal shape and mouth closed.
  • Lying down with their tummy exposed. They will have a relaxed posture and stretch their body out. Ears will be in a natural position; eyes may be partly closed, and their mouth is closed.  
  • Sitting with a relaxed posture with their tail is held out loosely from their body. Ears are in a natural position, eyes are a normal shape, and their mouth is closed.

Your cat is showing signs of anxiety or worry and wants to be left alone if they are:

  • In a crouched position with tense muscles. They will hold their body tightly with their tail tucked slightly into their body, ears will be slightly swivelled sideways. They will also have dilated pupils and signs of tension on their face.
  • They may also hide.

Your cat is unhappy or angry if they are:

  • Lying down with their body flattened and tense. Their ears will be flat against their head, pupils are dilated, tail is held tightly into their body and limbs will be held tight and close to the body.
  • Lying down with their body flattened and ears flat against their and head. Their body is also slightly rolled over to one side, their pupils will be dilated and their teeth showing.  
  • Standing with an arched back and their body held sideways. Their hair will be raised with a front paw lifted slightly off the ground (ready to swipe). Their ears will be lowered and pointing out to the side, and they will have an open mouth with teeth showing.  

Source: rspca.org.au

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