How to Decode Your Cat's Behavior

Updated on June 11, 2018
Engelta profile image

Engelta owns a cat and is very passionate on writing about pets and animals in general.

Understanding Cat Body Language

How to Communicate With Your Cat

Just because you and your cat may speak different languages, that doesn't mean you can't successfully communicate with each other. The look in your cat's eyes, her body language, and her vocalizations all contain vital information as long as you know what they mean. Read on for some of the most common phrases in feline language.

  • Rolling on the floor: if your kitty is rolling back and forth on the floor, she is either submitting to you or inviting you to play. If it's the latter, you shouldn't miss it for anything in the world. Your cat won't want to play for too long before getting upset and turning your fingers into snack food!
  • Squinty eyes: cats squint when they are happy. If they close their eyes slowly while looking, that shows that they trust you. Do not break their trust.
  • Sticking a raised back in your face: your cat finds tail sniffing normal so, even if it may sound weird and not your cup of tea, it's your cat’s version of a warm "hello."
  • Sleeping while curled up: the reason cats curl themselves up into little balls when they sleep is that they want to produce and maintain enough body heat to feel warm while they're sleeping.
  • Kneading: Cats would make great bakers, since they seem to love alternately pressing their paws against a soft object - usually you! Behaviorists believe this is a leftover trait from when they were kittens, as the kneading would help their mothers produce milk.
  • Sitting like a cat loaf: cats like to tuck their paws under their stomach when they are feeling safe and comfortable, and they also do it to conserve body heat. It is definitely a good sign if you see your cat doing that!

  • Laying down with one leg extended: it may look as though your cat is doing yoga or stretching herself out a bit. In fact, this position makes it easier for cats to clean themselves up.
  • An exposed belly. This is pretty similar to dogs and is the most important and definitive signs of trust.
  • Nowhere to be found: cats are good at hiding. They love playing hide and seek, or they could just be tired of putting up with your shit. That escalated quickly. Do something funnier.
  • Staring into space: do not think you cat just went mad. Cats have great vision and are aware of things we aren't. So maybe it's staring at a fly you can not see. Either way, they did not just go mad.
  • Hiding in a box: cats find comfort and feel secure in confined places.
  • The "hug and bite" game: yeah, it is just a game. Your cat loves playing at wrestling, even when it plugs its sharp teeth into your easily punctured flesh.
  • Clacking at animals, especially birds: this is a hunting reflex.
  • Snuggling up to your computer: cats want warm places and, more than this, to get on your nerves and annoy you. See, cats own you, not the other way round.
  • A quivering butt: yeah, it is ready to rumble. If it is looking into your eyes while doing this, protect your face. xP

Cat Tail Language

High tail: when a cat holds her tail high as she moves around her territory, she communicates confidence and contentment. She is expressing happiness and is willingness to be friendly with other people in her space. A little twitch at the tip of the tail can mean that the cat is particularly happy.

Curved as a question mark: maybe you should rearrange your schedule for the day so that you can stay in and play with your cat. This position indicates that the cat is playful and ready to have fun with you.

Low: a tail held low can signal aggression and should be taken very seriously. Unless your cat is Persian, as they keep their tail in a low position all the time.

Tucked away: a tail that is curved beneath the body, signals submission or fear. Something is not right and is making the cat nervous.

Puffed up: if your cat is puffed up, he is likely really agitated and frightened, and so is trying to look bigger in order to ward off danger.

Whipping tail: a cat who slaps her tail rapidly back and forth communicates fear and also aggression. It is a warning sign telling you to walk away.

Swishing tail: when your cat's tail sways slowly from one side to the other, she is focused on something. You might see it when she is about to be fed.

Wrapped around an other cat: some cats like to cuddle with their friends. It's cute.

Questions & Answers

  • Why do my cats curl their paws?

    It’s normal. They are stretching.

  • Why is my six-year-old cat by my side day and night?

    Cats are very clingy by nature. They get attached to one family member, and they want to be by their side all the time, they get extremely jealous if they feel like they're not getting attention, or if you are giving it to someone/something else. So in short, your cat just wants to be as close to you as possible.

  • Why does my one-year-old cat eat paper?

    The cat has been taught or learned by itself to do that, because it likes to play. You should help ditch the habit.

  • why does my cat sleep at the top of my head?

    Cats like to possess things and people.

Comments

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    • profile image

      Ranice K Burgess 

      7 days ago

      My cat will be 5 next month she has started to stare at me and meows really loud and puts her paw on my arm usually when someone is here I figured she is jealous she gets attention a lot from me and others

    • profile image

      Ains 

      3 months ago

      My older cat has been sleeping a lot and I'm worried he is getting to the end of his life, am I crazy and paranoid or should I look into it with my vet?

    • alexarain379 profile image

      Alexa Rain 

      7 months ago from egypt

      enjoyable lens to read, Great hub.

    • profile image

      Kristy 

      11 months ago

      I took in a stray cat this morning, so I'm a little Leary about why she's layi g on her side & slowly curling her paws in & out?

    • profile image

      jasmine 

      13 months ago

      The cats are so cute!

    • profile image

      nancy 

      14 months ago

      when my ragdoll cat uses the litter she will sometimes run through the house like the devil himself was chasing her. Why?

    • profile image

      Angeles 

      16 months ago

      HELP!! my cat is eating plastic or whatever he find on the floor and then he start to vomit, he knows he is doing something wrong but WHY?

    • profile image

      Man 

      18 months ago

      This helps.

    • Engelta profile imageAUTHOR

      Engelis 

      18 months ago from Albania

      Ever considered or went at the vet?

    • profile image

      Novy H 

      18 months ago

      Great info, thank you! Question though- we have two cats and one trills and meows most of the night. I know he is not hungry...would you have an idea why and what we can do to either stop or reduce this? Thanks again :)

    • Engelta profile imageAUTHOR

      Engelis 

      20 months ago from Albania

      No, it's just the law of physics working: inertia :)

    • profile image

      emily 

      20 months ago

      thanks, this explains a lot! I just have one question: when my cat jumps up onto his cat post he sometimes bonks his head on the wall because he jumps too far. He doesn't always do this, but does it every once in a while. Should I worry?

    • Engelta profile imageAUTHOR

      Engelis 

      2 years ago from Albania

      Well, you know how kids pretend to cry? It means: they are not really sad, or they don't feel like crying, but they do want to get something or catch your attention. So they choose to cry, even though it is a fake crying!

      The same idea goes for cats. You're welcome.

    • profile image

      Shirley 

      2 years ago

      Pretend to yawn?! Your kidding me right?!!! LOL.

    • Engelta profile imageAUTHOR

      Engelis 

      2 years ago from Albania

      They won't to be taken care of, maybe a little massage or food.

    • Sasha the Cat profile image

      Sasha the Cat 

      2 years ago

      Why do they meow repetitively at your feet?

    • profile image

      Pam 

      2 years ago

      I have a cat that is very vocal. She will come and sit in front of us and cry but we cannot figure out what she wants. Sometimes she just walks around the house crying. She has been extremely vocal since a babe.

    • Engelta profile imageAUTHOR

      Engelis 

      2 years ago from Albania

      They want you to scratch their stomach. They absolutely love it! So it seems to me your kitty just wants to get pampered, a lot! :D

    • profile image

      Chelsea 

      2 years ago

      I love this article, good information for every cat owner! I heard that when cats headbut you and arch their back they are either happy or if the do it a lot they are asking for something? My kitty does this constantly, but she has everything she needs... how can I help her? Is she just happy? :)

    • Engelta profile imageAUTHOR

      Engelis 

      2 years ago from Albania

      Thank you for reading and commenting. Now, regarding to your cat behavior, either she does not have enough power to jump to the point she wants to [she wants to play around I guess], or in the worst case scenario, she has brain damage. You would want to check your cat up if you find her sitting in front of a wall, staring at the wall, or just banging her head into it.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      What a great hub! This explains my cats, twofold. Now can you explain why one of my cats climb and bang on a closet? Or join me on my chair by jumping to the back of it?

    • Engelta profile imageAUTHOR

      Engelis 

      3 years ago from Albania

      Thank you :)

    • profile image

      Judy 

      3 years ago

      Wonderful kitten pictures. Thank you.

    • Engelta profile imageAUTHOR

      Engelis 

      3 years ago from Albania

      What do you mean?

    • profile image

      Margaret Lee 

      3 years ago

      This was excellent. Have been unable to find answer to many questions this articl addressed

    • Engelta profile imageAUTHOR

      Engelis 

      4 years ago from Albania

      pretend to yawn? I do not think they pretend, yawn is a natural thing that you can not stop. They yawn because of stretching after they wake up, or when they are about to sleep.

    • profile image

      z7242 

      4 years ago

      why does she PRETEND to yawn?

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