How to Decode Your Cat's Behavior
How to Communicate With Your Cat
Just because you and your cat speak different languages, doesn't mean you can't successfully communicate with each other! Humans and their pet cats can share a special and complex bond, and your pet cat is able to communicate his or her needs to you using certain physical cues. The look in your cat's eyes, their body language, and their vocalizations all contain vital information—as long as you know what they mean.
Understanding Cat Body Language
Cats are versatile creatures, and they have a lot of different movements! Nevertheless, there are some actions that house cats are liable to do when they're around you. Although it may not seem like it, they are using their body to tell you something! Here are some of the most common phrases in the 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! However, your cat won't want to play for too long before getting upset and turning your fingers into snack food.
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's not your cup of tea, it's your cat’s version of a warm "hello."
Sleeping While Curled Up
Cats curl themselves up into little balls when they sleep so that they produce and maintain enough body heat to feel warm while they're sleeping.
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.
Why Do Cats Loaf or Tuck Their Paws Under Them?
Your cat might often tuck their paws under their stomach, making them look like a cuddly and cute loaf of bread. But besides looking cute, what does it mean? Cats do this when they are feeling safe and comfortable—if they're sitting like this, they probably think that they don't need to use their claws anytime soon! They also sit in such a way to conserve body heat. If you see your cat sitting like a loaf, it is definitely a good sign!
“Generally speaking, a cat who is lying with their paws tucked underneath them is considered relaxed. They aren’t preparing to defend themselves or run away.”— Mikel Delgado, Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis
The Cat Loaf Position, Also Known as the Kitty Loaf
Other Cat Sitting Positions and Behaviors
How to Respond
Laying Down With One Paw Out
It may look as though your cat is doing yoga or stretching herself out a bit, but in fact, this position makes it easier for cats to clean themselves up.
Let your cat clean themselves! Hygiene is important.
Exposing Their Belly
This is pretty similar to dogs and is one of the most important and definitive signs of trust.
You can rub your cats belly, but don't be surprised if they pounce on you after a while.
Staring Into Space
Do not think your cat just went mad. Cats have great vision and are aware of things that we aren't. It may be staring at a fly you can not see. Either way, they did not just go mad.
Leave your cat alone. They're focused.
Hugging and Biting You
It's just a game. Your cat loves play wrestling, even when it plugs its sharp teeth into your easily punctured flesh.
Engage your cat and let them play! It doesn't hurt that much.
Chattering at Animals
This is a hunting reflex that cats have maintained throughout evolution. It's a sign of excitement at the chance of being able to hunt, but it can be a sign of frustration at not being able to catch their pray. Cats especially do this at birds.
It's not the best time to snuggle your cat right now—they might confused you for a bird!
Snuggling Up to Your Computer
Cats want warm places, and your computer emits a lot of heat and energy. Even more, however, cats love to get on your nerves and annoy you. See, cats own you—not the other way round.
Let your cat hang around—they just want to get warm, after all! If they're distracting you, gently pick them up and place them in a warm spot nearby.
Quivering Their Butt
This happens when cats are stretching and also as a form of "greeting"; however, it can occasionally be a sign that your cat is trying to portray dominance and spay their scent on their territory.
If your cat is neutered, you don't have to worry about spaying. Let your cat say hello!
Cat Tail Language
In addition to looking at your cat's ears, mouth, nose, and body movement for indicators of how your cat is doing, you can tell a lot about how they are feeling by the movement of their tail. If it's held high, it means it's happy, and if it's low it means that it's ready to pounce, so it's important to know what their tail means—it might be a sign that you should move out of the way!
How to Respond
When a cat holds her tail high as she moves around her territory, she communicates confidence and contentment. She is expressing happiness and is willing 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.
Play with your cat! They're in a good mood and it's time to take advantage.
Curved Like 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.
Offer your hand out and invite your kitty to play.
A tail held low can signal aggression and should be taken very seriously—your cat might be ready to pounce! That is, unless your cat is Persian, as they keep their tail in a low position all the time.
Figure out what's bothering your cat and try to solve the problem. It's not the best idea to play with your cat at this time.
A tail that is curved beneath the body signals submission or fear. Something is not right and is making the cat nervous.
Wait for your cat to come to you; they might be feeling overwhelmed.
If your cat is puffed up, he or she is likely really agitated and frightened. Your cat is trying to look bigger in order to ward off danger.
Don't try to play with your cat. Leave them alone and try to figure out what it is that's bothering them.
A cat who slaps her tail rapidly back and forth is communicating fear and aggression.
Walk away. . .it's not a good idea to play or cuddle with your cat right now.
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.
Let your cat eat, play with the toy, or do whatever it is they're so focused on. No use trying to break their attention
Why Do Cats Sleep on Your Feet?
If they can, cat's will often try to sleep next to their owners. This isn't because they want to maul you in their sleep—far from it. It is actually a sign of trust and protection! Your cat wants to relax and be near you, but not necessarily on you. Staying by your feet means that they can easily leave if they get bored or sick of you.
And if your cat likes to only sleep next to your feet, and not next to the feet of anyone else in your family? Well, lucky you. You're your cat's favorite.
Why Does My Cat Hide From Me?
Cats are pretty good at hiding. And though it's easy to say that they just love playing hide and seek, there are a variety of reasons your cat might be trying to stay out of sight.
Though cats are predators, they are usually non-confrontational—when they see something threatening, they are more likely to run and hide rather than stay back and fight; hence the term "scaredy cat." Check to see if there's something around that might be scaring your cat—this could be another animal, a child, or even you!
In addition, if you've changed something about your home—maybe someone new moved it, or you've got a brand new furniture set—this can cause your cat stress and cause them to hide. Cats like to stick to a routine, so it's important to be especially in tune to your cat's needs when something about their environment has changed.
Why Does My Cat Hide in a Box?
A box, a drawer, a suitcase lying around—cats are known to want to sit in the most random locations. Boxes and otherwise enclosed spaces are comforting to cats; it helps them relax and also protects them from predators. If your cat is stressed, they might also try to find a bag or box to sit in to help ease their anxiety.
Questions & Answers
My cat is non stop meowing. Why is that?
Maybe you should take the cat to a vet?Helpful 48
My cat is usually a quiet cat but my cat well meow every time he sees me, why?
He likes you and he’s asking for attention.Helpful 30
Why does my cat lay halfway underneath my dresser? He’s just recently done this (the past couple days, and it lasts from five minutes to all night).
Maybe he has found some new way to have fun. I wouldn't bother much.Helpful 1
My cat has recently been coming up to me with his left front paw dangling. I asked my boyfriend if his cat was hurt, but he just thought he was playing with me. Could he have hurt himself and possibly wanted my help? I love cats and I have come very fond with his cat. I just have never seen him act like that before. Any ideas why he's doing this?
You should get him a vet, maybe he has hurt his paw.Helpful 3