Understanding Your Cat’s Body Language

Your cat has a lot to tell you.

Cats are complicated creatures. And while we love them all the more for that, it can make it difficult to understand what they are thinking or feeling. Cats, like humans, reveal their inner states through their body language and vocalizations. Unlike dogs, cats haven’t evolved to have many facial muscles, so their faces aren’t necessarily as expressive as dogs. Learning to understand their body language can strengthen our relationship with them – and I don’t know about you, but all I want is my cat’s love.

Cat Body Language

You can decipher a lot through your cat’s body language. Cats are creatures who communicate with their entire body – from their ears, to their eyes, to their tail and more.


  • Slightly forward: your cat is feeling playful, excited or curious
  • Pinned back or flat: your cat is feeling anxious, stressed or frightened
  • Straight and upright: your cat hears something that has caught their attention


  • Slow blinking: your cat is adoring you and telling you it loves you
  • Dilated pupils: your cat is excited and playful, or if combined with defensive gestures can mean your cat is frightened
  • Slit pupils: your cat is content, relaxed and probably annoyed by default


  • Wagging tail: your cat is annoyed or frustrated
  • Twitching tail: your cat is feeling playful or curious
  • Puffed-up tail: your cat is frightened or preparing to attack
  • Tucked away tail: a sign of anxiety and submission
  • Curved tail: your cat is feeling playful and wants to explore
  • Tail wrapped around cat: your cat is happy, satisfied and relaxed

Whole Body Language

  • Lying on back, belly exposed: your cat completely trusts you and feels comfortable enough to reveal their most vulnerable area to you
  • Arched back: your cat is trying to tell you to pet them
  • Rubbing against you: your cat is marking you as your territory
  • Kneading: your cat is particularly comfortable and content
  • Butt wiggling: your cat is stalking prey and ready to pounce
  • Curled up cat: your cat feels calm and safe
  • Licking you: your cat is showing you affection and sees you as an important part of their family group

Cat Vocalizations

Cats do not hesitate to vocalize their demands!

  • Trilling: between a meow and a purr, used as a greeting or to get your attention
  • Chirping: your cat is trying to attract their prey
  • Hissing and growling: your cat is frightened or furious
  • Purring: your cat is happy and affectionate
  • Short, high-pitched meow: your cat is saying hello
  • Soft, pleading meows: your cat is telling you it’s hungry
  • Drawn-out meow: your cat is annoyed