Understanding cat language: how to correctly interpret cat body language

Understanding cat language: How to correctly interpret cat body language

If you want to correctly interpret cat behavior and learn cat language, you must always be aware that cats are very attentive observers. They register every movement of their counterpart – every blink – and consequently even the smallest movement in the body language of cats can be of great importance. Who wants to understand his cat, must therefore be very attentive and look very carefully. In the following we reveal, what you should pay special attention to it.

Body language of cats

Cats have a distinctive facial expression. The interplay of eyes, ears, and tail, as well as posture, reveal quite a bit about the cat’s state of mind and mood.

Erect whiskers and forward pointing ears show for example Attention. A relaxed cate, on the other hand, lets its tail hang loosely. To Greeting it is erected, a sign that she is friendly to her counterpart.

How do cats show joy?

By a raised tail a cat also expresses joy. If the cat is happy, it also often runs excitedly back and forth, sometimes accompanied by an attentive meow.

If the reason for joy is, for example, the homecoming of the dear owner, the cat also often strokes affectionately around his legs and rubs the head. With this so-called "Giving head" it signals: "You belong to me", because the scent glands located on the cheeks leave a mark, unnoticed by us humans, with the individual "family smell".

But be careful: The same signs of joy many cats also apply when they beg.

When cats want to play

Playful cats can be recognized not necessarily by a special posture, but by their entire behavior. Some cats run like crazy through the apartment or the garden, when they are gripped by the play instinct.

Cats that are playful often roll on the floor and make the craziest contortions. If they want to ask their humans to play along, they often paw at the hand or the trouser leg.

The ears as a barometer of mood

The mood of a cat can best be read from its ears:

  • When they are relaxed and facing forward, it signals friendliness.
  • If something attracts the cat’s attention, the ears are turned in that direction.
  • Dissatisfaction is shown by turning the ears gradually to the side. the cat says in this way: "I don’t like what you are doing right now."
  • If the ears are turned even further back, so that the back is visible, the cat signals fear, but also warns that it could attack immediately, if it feels further threatened and cornered is. Wild cats have a bright spot on the back of each ear. If the back of the ears point forward, they act like a second pair of eyes, which is to intimidate their counterpart.
  • If fear turns into aggression, the ears are laid flat against the head. Usually the cat then goes on the attack at the same moment.

How do cats show fear and aggression?

In case of fear or aggression, the cat ruffles its fur and makes a typical hump in order to appear larger and thus intimidate the opponent. The ears of an aggressive cat are turned backwards and laid flat. If fear is mixed in, the ears are tilted a little more to the side. The tail is also ruffled and slightly bent as a sign of fear. An aggressive cat puts it completely horizontally.

The easiest way distinguish fear and aggression by their pupils. If they are narrow and slitted, the cat is angry. In case of fear and excitement the pupils are very wide.

What the cat’s tail also reveals

Submission shows the cat through a tail tucked in. Sometimes it presents its belly, its vulnerable side, to the other person. This gesture is not as clear in cats as it is in dogs. On the one hand they can still defend themselves very well with their claws while lying on their backs, on the other hand rolling on their backs is often also a play invitation. In the interpretation is always the respective context decisive.

A Twitching tail means insecurity. Maybe the cat is busy with an inner conflict. This behavior is also often observed during playful hunting. In case of emergency, however, the cat behaves very rigidly and quietly, in order not to be discovered by its prey.

The right measure of eye contact

Eye contact first of all signals attention. The cat’s eyes are often half closed. Thus it shows that it is friendly minded. One should never stare at cats, even if their beautiful eyes fascinate us. For Staring is considered as a threatening gesture.

Blinking you your cat better again and again clearly to. With a little luck your kitty blinks back. They have exchanged a smile in cat language.

Cats also avert their eyes from time to time when meeting each other, in order to demonstrate peacefulness and to reassure their counterpart. Blinking is also observed as a jumping action. If the cat is insecure, it prefers to signal first that it is not looking for a fight.

How cats behave when they are ready to mate?

Female cats become sexually mature at about four to twelve months, depending on the breed. They become then several times in the year "rollig", thus ready for mating. The readiness to mate depends on the season, from October to December there is usually a break, in which the cat is not in heat at all. In apartment cats, however, this rhythm is often lost.

Cats in heat are very restless during this time, meow a lot and roll around. They roll back and forth devotedly, which explains the name. In addition, they put their tail to the side, another signal to show a male their readiness to mate.

Male cat become sexually mature at an average age of eight to ten months. With them no seasonality is to be observed, they are always ready for mating. Cats with a roll are perceived by males over long distances, because they emit a special smell. Even a well-behaved tomcat can be tempted to try to escape if there is a cat in heat in the neighborhood.

In addition, most sexually mature male cats mark their territory also indoors. This behavior can be stopped with a timely castration.

Sounds as part of cat communication

Cats communicate among themselves mainly by gestures and smells. However, they also have a distinctive sound repertoire that goes far beyond meowing:

  • growling and hissing are to be understood as a warning.
  • In the fight this goes over into a throaty howl, up to screeching and yowling, which expresses aggression and partly also fear.
  • Tense cats or cats gripped by hunting fever sometimes chatter, though this often sounds more like smacking.
  • Gentle cooing is supposed to calm down and demonstrates readiness to mate. not only signals that a cat is feeling well, but can also serve to calm itself down. Presumably, cats even stimulate the body’s own self-healing powers through it. Researchers still disagree about the origin of the purr.

The actual meowing originates from the baby language and is maintained especially towards humans. Many cats develop the most different variations, depending upon, what they would like straight from "their" humans. Here is also particularly noticeable how different the voices of cats can be.

Cleaning behavior of cats

About 3.5 hours a day a cat spends to clean itself extensively. This typical cat behavior is of course mainly for grooming purposes. Mutual grooming is also very important for social bonding.

Many cats lick their paws especially often and extensively. This is in many cases a jump action. This occurs in case of excitement, embarrassment or insecurity. Such jumping acts serve as a stress reliever. With a familiar action, the cat overplays the fact that it does not know how to behave properly at the moment. Presumably, licking also releases happiness hormones (endorphins).

My cat yawns – is she tired?

Cats yawn – like humans – occasionally when they are tired and especially after waking up, combined with extensive stretching. With the wide opening of the mouth, the facial muscles are relaxed.

Much more importantly, however, is probably that stress is reduced by yawning. This is how cats yawn when they are insecure or to appease a conspecific. By the way, amazingly, animals can also be infected by the yawning of humans.

The sleeping cat

It is said that cats sleep about 12 to 16 hours a day. But most of the time they spend dozing. Their eyes are closed, but they still register what is happening around them.

This is especially easy to recognize by the fact that the cat plays with its ears and also reacts to quiet noises. If something attracts the cat’s attention, it opens one or both eyes and turns its head in the corresponding direction. Then it decides whether it is worth getting up or whether it will continue to snooze.

Cats fall into deep sleep only when they feel very safe and usually only for a few minutes. In such a phase you should never touch a cat abruptly, but always talk to it beforehand. Otherwise it can happen that the cat is so frightened that it immediately attacks the touching hand.

Whether animals can really dream, about it there is disagreement. But if you watch your cat sleeping for a longer time, you will notice that it occasionally twitches and paws while sleeping and sometimes even starts to smack its lips. Maybe she is really dreaming of chasing a mouse.

Is my cat sick?

Sick cats usually show very late that they are feeling bad. The natural instincts ensure that the cat shows no weakness. Therefore, at the first sign that the cat is not well, you should ask a veterinarian for advice, because often the cats are then already sick for a long time and have hidden it so far only good.

But how can you tell if a cat is sick?? A sick cat will first stop playing. However, since the play instinct is individually very different and some cats, especially outdoor cats, show no interest at all in playing with humans, this is a very uncertain sign.

Only when the cat feels worse, it retreats. Sick cats sleep more, often not going to elevated places to avoid exertion. When sleepiness turns into real apathy, it is often a sign of fever. In addition, sick cats often stop eating.

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