Welcome if you’re new, and I’m happy to have you back if you’ve read before.
Last week we talked about dog body language, and I want to keep up with this topic, just with a little twist. SO, this week on the blog is all about cat body language (we can’t all be dog people, though if you are; check out last week’s post).
In other news- the LSR Blog has moved to a bi-weekly posting schedule, so you can check back here every other week for new posts! If you want to see more of Lee Shore and we're getting up to, check out our social media! Now, on to the good stuff.
Body language is super important in how we communicate as people, but it matters in your animals too. Just as our actions can be telling of our thoughts or feelings, so can your pet’s. That’s why it’s good to cover the basics of cat behavior, so you can better understand your friend.
As weird as it sounds, blinking is a good thing in cat body language. If your cat greets you with a long, slow blink; it’s their way of showing affection towards you. Try to return the favor and blink back at them, that way a feeling of trust and security is formed.
Unlike traditional human characteristics, direct eye contact does not convey tenderness. For most cats, it’s the opposite, actually. Direct eye contact is how cats show that they’re feeling threatened, and especially if you’re continuously making eye contact with your cat, they may become alarmed. Though your intentions may be good, it’s best to not have prolonged eye contact with your pet. I.E. Those staring contests you’ve been trying to have: not exactly a friendly competition.
Typically in cats, dilated pupils show fear: the wider they are, the more anxious your cat is. The reason for this is because dilated pupils are trying to take in all of the surroundings. Cats with an unusual bug-eyed look to them are more than likely scared of something that’s happening around them.
This is rather intuitive, but because dilated pupils represent fear, narrowed eyes showcase anger or alertness in a cat. This should be taken with a grain of salt, though because cats eyes also adjust for lighting. So when looking at narrowed eyes, make sure you’re taking into account the rest of your cat’s posture as well.
Much like dogs, cats ears can also be very telling. If your cat’s ears are raised and erect, this is a sign that they’re alert. Ears that are pointing slightly forward are positive, and mean that your cat is relaxed and happy. Last but not least, if your cat flattens down their ears, they’re probably feeling threatened or afraid (this is not a good time to try and pet their cute little heads, either).
Tails may just seem like endless trouble (I’m talking about glasses knocked off of tables, and of course hair in your mouth), but cats actually have a lot of control over them. Let’s talk about some of the various positions and they’re meanings.
A high, but not stiff, tail is communicating happiness. With its tail up, your cat is content and confident. An upright tail is not the same, though. Think Halloween, the stereotypical black-cat with its tail erect and the bristles sticking out- this is an alarmed, threatened stance. Another sign of irritation is a flicking tail, or an arched back. All of these are signals telling you to give your cat some space. One last means of tail communication: if your cat is tucking its tail around another cat or your legs, it’s a sign of friendliness. This is a prime time to play with or cuddle your cat!
Now that we’ve covered the basics of your cats features, there’s a common stance that is easily readable. Called tummy display- creative, I’m aware- it’s when your absolutely adorable cat rolls on its back with its legs up. I’ll be the first to tell you, this makes me want to bury my face in its stomach and blow raspberries, but that is the last thing you should do (a hard to swallow pill, I know). The truth about this pose is that while sometimes it just means your kitty wants belly rubs, it can also mean your cat is feeling threatened. They chose this as a defensive pose because all of their sharp points are on display, so it’s easy to attack if need be.
All in all, if you’re able to identify even a couple of these cues, I’m willing to bet your relationship with your cat will improve. Cats are friendly and playful, and want to be loved on just as much as you want to love them! Sometimes they just need a little space, and really, who can blame them?
That’s all I’ve got for today folks, now use the rest of your free time to cuddle your pets. If you’re not already doing so, that is…
I post every Tuesday, and once a month I feature a special adoptable pet from our very own Lee Shore Rescue. Have a great week, and I’ll see you back here next time!
Lastly, If you’re interested in the articles I found particularly useful while researching, check out these links:
Joy Shanahan is a student at Appalachian State University with a passion for community service. She can be found in the dance studios at ASU or researching helpful animal tips for Lee Shore.