Cat Training

Cat Body Language & What It Means

Cat Body Language

Many people believe cats don't really 'say' much because they're not generally that vocal. However, you can understand a lot about how your cat is feeling or what they want just by learning to watch and understand their body language.

Tail - Cats use their tails to signify lots of different emotions.

  • If your cat runs to greet you they will probably hold their tail high in welcome. Cats greet close friends with their tails held high, indicating happiness.
  • A twitching tail usually means excitement and interest. Usually about something such as a bird or squirrel outside that they want to chase.
  • A long swish of the tail indicates irritation and annoyance so leave your cat alone if they begin to do this.
  • Many people believe a quivering tail is the biggest gesture of love your cat can give you and this is only ever shown for their most favourite person.
  • A low or tucked under tail indicates a frightened cat. If this is also accompanied by flatted ears and a growl, retreat away as frightened cats can pounce and scratch trying to defend themselves.

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Ears - A cats ears can also tell you a lot about their feelings.

  • Flat ears indicate fear or aggression and are normally accompanied by hissing or growling. Leave your cat alone if they do this as they may scratch trying to defend themselves.
  • Pricked ears normally indicate that your cat is interested what's happening around them.
  • Ears turned to the sides normally means they've heard something behind them but it's not interesting enough for them to turn around.


  • Wide eyes with dilated pupils can indicate many different things so check the rest of the cats body language.
  • Cat's will often be seen to be 'giving you a dirty look' from across the room by closing their eyes and looking away. This actually means they like and trust you.
  • Slow blinking towards a cat shows that you are not a threat and they will most likely return the slow blink telling you that they feel comfortable with you and they like you.

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Other behaviour

  • Cats may touch noses or rub cheeks to say hello, which are both friendly greetings
  • Leg rubbing is natural 'marking' behaviour. Your cat is covering you with pheromones from glands on their face. I usually think of it as my cat marking me as in his gang. Leg rubbing can also be a way to get attention as it usually leads to being stroked.
  • If your cat rolls over on to their back and shows their belly, they're giving you the ultimate compliment of 'I trust you'.
  • If your cat is lying flat or crawling low to the ground, she is feeling playful and getting ready to attack. Coupled with a tail twitch and pricked ears, look out as the "victim" could be your ankles!
  • Many cats will knead with paws. It is a sign of contentment and is thought to come from either the time when wild cats had to flatten areas of grass or foliage in order to sleep comfortably, or a carry over from the instinct that kittens have to knead their mothers teat to stimulate milk production.

Worrying body language - Some body language can indicate illness. Take your cat to the vets if he or she:

  • Won't eat
  • Retreats by themselves
  • Neglects grooming, with fur becoming coarse
  • Sneezes repeatedly
  • Has difficulty urinating
  • Has trouble breathing