Do you really need to know your cat’s body language? Just like with humans, it’s important to interpret what they may be thinking. The additional problem is that with cats, they can lash out at you, scratching or biting. While we cat lovers get used to it over time, it’s best to learn how to avoid triggering this bad behaviour in the first place, especially if we have young children.
Here is a quick guide to your cat’s body language.
If your cat is super happy, they may flop down on the couch and show you their belly. This means they fully trust you. But whether you’ve reached that level of bonding is going to depend on whether you can touch that belly. A cat’s temper can be turned on in a second. Other signs your cat is happy may include partially-closed eyelids, purring, and a general look of relaxation. Also have a look at their whiskers. Are they fully floofed out? That means they are happy.
If your cat is hiding, it may be because they’re scared of a predator, or perhaps they’re doing pretend hunting. Either way, it’s best to leave them alone and not try to drag them out from under the bed. A cat who is looking out the window at birds may be making a funny chirping noise. This is when they are prepping their jaws for the kill. It may be best to leave them to their bird watching during these times so they don’t mistake you for the prey.
Cats can lower their eyelids and scrunch up their faces, just like us. Their ears will flatten, and they’ll pull their whiskers closer to their face. It’s the human equivalent of being glared at in anger. The smart cat will do that to warn us in advance that we need to back off. At times it may appear they are being submissive, so their bodies will fully relax while they growl at us, such as if they need grooming or to be given medication. It’s best to complete this quickly, then let them go. You may also observe your cat hunching down on the ground. They are making their bodies smaller targets, should a fight begin. Also observe their tails. Is it suddenly swinging back and forth? The cat is now extremely angry.
Just like humans, cats have emotions that can run from pure joy, to extreme anger. An extremely distressed cat can cause some severe damage to a human’s skin. While a house cat you’ve had for years likely won’t harm you worse than a small bite or scratch, if you have a new cat, it’s best to carefully pay attention to their body language to be sure they’re not being triggered to attack. The more you understand your cat, the better that the both of you (and your family) will be able to bond with the cat, resulting in a much happier life!