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Cat Body Language: The 10 Most Important Signals

  • 9 min read

Do you know what your cat is trying to tell you when she winks at you, yawns, or has her cat’s tail down? We’ll tell you!

Cats communicate very differently from us humans. Body language plays a much more important role for them . So that you can understand your cat better and avoid misunderstandings, we have briefly explained the ten most important signals of cat body language for you.

1. What does it mean when the cat has its tail down?

A cat’s tail position says a lot about how she’s feeling. Most people know: A raised tail on a cat means that it is fine. However, many cat owners don’t know what it means when the cat’s tail is down.

A lowered tail on your cat can mean many things. You need to look closely to understand your cat’s mood:

  • Tail down with tip of tail slightly raised: Your cat is relaxed but doesn’t want to be disturbed in what she is doing.
  • Tail down and raised: your cat is scared. Give your cat space so that you can withdraw from the situation – otherwise your cat can only flee forward and attack.
  • Tail down and swaying back and forth: your cat is restless, stressed or about to pounce. A slight tremor of the cat’s tail means that the cat is elated.

Cats primarily use their tails for their body language. Knowing what tail pose means in cats is very important for all cat owners.

Cat laying with its tail down.

2. What does it mean when the cat blinks?

Anyone who has observed their cat closely will have recognized that blinking is an important part of cat body language . But what does it actually mean when your cat blinks at you?

When your cat blinks, she’s trying to tell you:

  • “I won’t hurt you, I’m not up for a fight.”
  • “I’m satisfied, I’m fine.”
  • “I like you, I care about you.”

On the one hand, cats blink to defuse a situation or to appease . On the other hand, the animals use it to show fellow animals or humans that they like them. And you can use this too: blink at your cat to show her that you love her too .

Cat Blinks

3. Why is my cat rubbing her head on me?

Loving cat owners have certainly experienced it: the cat rubs its head against you. And that should really make you happy: rubbing your head is a real token of love! Your cat uses body language to show that you belong to her. It wets you with pheromones that are imperceptible to us.

Cat rubbing her head on leg

4. When does the cat have a lowered posture?

If your cat keeps its head low and has a lowered posture , something is wrong. This is how cats use their body language to express that they are in pain. It is best to make sure that you also recognize the following signs of pain in your cat :

  • Your cat avoids jumping, is lame and/or hobbles.
  • Your cat will shy away from even the smallest of movements.
  • Your cat neglects grooming.
  • Your cat is hiding.
Cat with lowered posture

If your cat behaves like this, you need to see a vet urgently . He can find the cause of the pain. A lowered posture in cats usually means that they are in pain.

However, it can also indicate that the cat is afraid . Anxious cats will also hide and withdraw. To avoid stress for your cat, you should take this body language signal very seriously and avoid or eliminate fear triggers.

Help with cat pain and stress

If you notice your cat is constantly stressed or in chronic pain , you need to take action: talk to your vet about possible treatments. Ask him if giving CBD oil might make sense. The CBD oil The Cat by Swiss FX * consists of CBD extract from organic hemp, which comes from organic farming in Switzerland.

CBD is said to help cats relax. It is said to help against stress, pain and nervousness .

5. Why do cats really yawn?

If the cat yawns, is it tired? That can be true, but it doesn’t have to be. What many cat owners don’t know is that yawning is an important part of cat body language . It can also mean:

  • Cats yawn in uncertainty
  • Cats yawn to show they don’t want a fight
  • Cats yawn when playing to show they want some quiet

Of course, if your cat yawns, it can simply mean that it is tired or has just woken up. If this is not the case, you should make sure to make the situation more comfortable for your cat: because if your cat yawns, it can also mean that it is overwhelmed .

6. Why is my cat staring at me?

Anyone who has a cat at home sometimes feels like they are being watched. Many cat owners keep asking themselves: why is my cat staring at me like that? This signal of cat body language can also be explained quickly.

When your cat stares at you, it usually means:

  • Your cat is very interested in what you are doing. She looks at you relaxed.
  • Your cat shows sympathy. She’s watching you because she likes you. Cats usually blink too.
  • Your cat is aggressive and threatening. Stop eye contact and don’t irritate your cat any further.

You can find out the real reason for the stare by observing the entire cat. If your posture is relaxed, the cause will be one of the first two. If your cat seems stressed, the last point is more likely to apply.

Cat staring

7. When do cats show their tummy?

If your cat lies on its back and shows you its belly, this can only mean one thing: your cat feels really comfortable. To really understand cat body language , it’s important to understand what sleeping positions reveal about cats .

If your cat lets you touch its stomach in this position , that is a real sign of trust: cats are usually very sensitive on their stomachs and only allow someone they trust to stroke them there.

Cat showing its tummy

There are also cats that completely trust their owner, but still won’t let them touch their stomachs. That too is completely normal.

8. What do flat ears and flat whiskers mean?

With their body language , cats also clearly show us when something isn’t right. If your cat flattens its ears and whiskers, this is a clear signal: now your cat’s mood is changing .

The cat also uses these body language signals to show that you better leave it alone now:

Cat with flat ears and flat whiskers

9. Why is my cat suddenly attacking me?

If the cat snaps at you, bites your hand or jumps on your leg, the cat is trying to express something with its body language. The reasons why your cat suddenly attacks you are usually as follows:

  • Hunting instinct meets boredom: Your cat is having its wild five minutes and needs to get rid of excess energy. Cats have a strong hunting instinct, which is why they often put their energy into hunting games.
  • Your cat is afraid: If your cat is afraid of something, it will usually flee. If she feels threatened, it is also possible to flee to the front and your cat will attack you.
  • Misunderstandings between cat and human: Do you want to pet your cat lovingly, but it suddenly attacks you? Then you may have missed another important body language signal that suggests your cat would rather be left alone.
Cat on attacking mode

Be sure to give your cat the space it needs. Also, respect it if your cat doesn’t want to be petted.

10. Why is my cat licking me?

When cats lick someone, it can be a token of love . Grooming each other is a relaxing ritual for cats that they only do with people they trust or with their own kind. If your cat licks you, it also marks you: the cat wants its own smell to stick to you.

Licking is one of the body language signals in cats that express affection. However, your cat may just lick you off because she likes the taste. For example, if you previously held a treat for your cat in your hand, your cat will probably taste it and lick your fingers

Cat body language is not always easy to understand. However, it is worth observing the cat closely and learning what behavior means. In this way you can avoid typical misunderstandings between cats and humans

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Hamna Nasir is a dedicated cat lover, avid traveler, and accomplished author. Born and raised in the bustling city of San Francisco, Hamna's education journey led her to Boston where her interests expanded and intersected in unexpected ways. Hamna's ontent explores a multitude of topics, from preparing your cat for its first trip and choosing pet-friendly accommodations to understanding feline behavior in different environments. Her first-hand experiences, love for storytelling, and unwavering commitment to enhancing the bond between cats and their owners have earned her a devoted following. Her insights have been celebrated by pet lovers, adventure enthusiasts, and travel bloggers alike.