Cats aren’t shy about expressing themselves, but it might not always be obvious what they’re trying to say. Knowing how your cat communicates pleasure and discomfort is vital to a successful relationship. Learn how to read your cat’s body language signals so you can better understand how they’re feeling.

Why Is Learning Cat Body Language Important?

When you understand what’s motivating your cat’s behavior you’re better able to support their needs, which can improve your cat’s overall health. Being able to read your cat’s emotions can also make training and behavior management easier. And when your cat feels understood they’ll trust you more, strengthening your bond. 

Always consider the context of the situation when reading your cat’s body language, and be patient as you learn. Cat body language can be subtle and complex, but with practice you’ll pick up on your cat’s unique communication style!

Tails Tell A Lot

A cat’s tail says a lot about their mood. From in the air to low and tucked, here’s what a cat’s tail has to say:

When a cat’s tail fur is bristled (in any position) it’s a sign of fear or agitation, so give them some space.

british shorthair standing

Stances Are Signals

The way your cat stands, sits or lies down is a clue to how they’re feeling. Here’s what the most common cat stances usually mean:

Look At Their Face

Another important part of understanding cat body language is looking at your cat’s face. Their eyes, ears and whiskers can all be clues to a cat’s mood.

tabby cat eating patty

Hear ‘Em Out

Cats also communicate using a wide range of vocalizations. Here’s what your cat wants you to hear:

ragdoll with stella and chewy's

Using Body Language to Read Your Cat’s Mood

Cat’s don’t pick and choose which body language signals they use—they express themselves from nose to tail! Learn how to identify your cat’s current state by putting it all together.

Happy

Anxious/Fearful

Ill/Injured

Playful

On the Prowl

Hungry

two cats eating from a hand

Cat-to-Cat Communication

Cats also use body language and vocalizations to talk to each other. If you’re a parent to two or more cats, learning more about their body language can help you better understand their relationship.

Signs that cats like each other:

Signs that cats aren’t getting along:

Cats are very territorial, so making sure each cat has its own food, water, and litter box, with plenty of access to toys and perches, can go a long way toward keeping the peace. Working with a cat behaviorist can also help. 

cats and dogs together

Can Cats & Dogs Communicate With Each Other?

While cats and dogs both use body language, there can be differences in specific signals, and misinterpretation can cause conflict. Above all, it’s the personality of each animal that will determine how well they get along together.

These common body language signals among cats and dogs are all a positive sign your pair is in harmony:

Slow blinking. Both dogs and cats use a slow blink to communicate they’re comfortable and open to interaction.

Snuggling up. Dogs and cats with a history of positive interactions may cuddle together or even sleep in the same space.

Grooming each other. This is a solid sign of affection and helps cement the relationship.

Learn more about reading dog body language for more insight into canine communication.

LEARN MORE ABOUT CATS WITH STELLA & CHEWY’S

It’s important to keep your cat’s body language in mind each and every day. Not only will understanding their body language help you get to know your cat better, but it will also ensure that you’re better equipped to handle their unique behaviors in specific situations. To learn more about all things cat, check out our variety of cat blogs by visiting Our Blog: For the Pet Obsessed.