Cats body language explained - know your cat's moods

Wondering If Your Cat Is Happy, Angry Or Plain Bored?

Understanding cats body language can be challenging and on an entirely different wavelength.  Your cat speaks with her whole body. Get acquainted with cat speak here.

Pay attention to your cat's eyes, ears, body and tail — they're all telling the story and part of cats body language


Anxious cats are alert for one reason: to escape from their current situation or threat. The eyes of an anxious cat would be unblinking and wide open, with pupils dilated into an oval. Their heads would also be lowered while their tail might move slowly from side to side.

Attentive / alert

Cats turn alert whenever they sense a strong imminent threat, their eyes would open with narrow pupils and their head angled towards the focus of their attention.


A cat’s tail in between its legs is an indication that it is cautious and paying close attention to its surroundings for sudden movements and jerks. Pause and let it familiarise itself with its surrounding before approaching.


Tail angled back and moving back and forth. These are signs that you have an excited cat on your hands. Another indication is its ears. If they are upright, your kitty is enthusiastic to meet you!


It may seem like the world is at peace when you encounter a friendly cat. An amicable cat would raise its tail straight up and would even rub up against your legs.


Cats get frightened from even the slightest of provocation. To show its aggression, a frightened cat would puff the hair out in its tail to appear dominant and larger.


Cats are naturally curious creatures, which enjoy discovering and exploring. When they encounter something that piques their interest, their ears will prick up and their whiskers relaxed. Stroke the whiskers and see if they respond in kind!


Cats are playful creatures especially when they eye their favourite play toy! When a cat is feeling mischievous, it will have its ears forward and tail up! Watch your fingers when you are!


When a cat is feeling predatory, it is in its hunting mode. Like every other predator, a hunting cat would bring their body and tail lower to the ground, avoiding detection by its prey. Do not get in the way of their hunt… especially when they are ready to pounce!


A terrified cat will puff its the hair on its back and tail to appear dominant and large. Observe its rapid breathing and swishing tail, which would resemble a car wiper under heavy rain.


It is obvious when a cat is threatened. It will snarl at you and watch you intently with those watchful eyes and sharp claws… till you step out of view of course.


A trusting cat would lie on its side, exposing its belly as a sign of affection and trust. Purring may accompany its behaviour, but avoid excessive strokes or tickles or it would retaliate with its claws.


A cat with ears slightly forward is likely feeling content or even playful. Droopy with slow blinking eyes may follow which indicates that kitty is relaxed and in a trusting mood.


A cat with body all tucked up and in no position to move or run is feeling anxious and fearful.

Scent marking

A cat’s sense of smell is so essential to them that they actually have an extra and unique olfactory organ known as the Jacobson’s organ. It is located on the roof of their mouth behind their front teeth and is connected to the nasal cavity.

When he gets a whiff of something fascinating, he opens his mouth and inhale so that the scent molecules flow over the Jacobson’s organ. This intensifies the odor and provides more information about the object he is sniffing.


All their senses are tuned onto their object of disapproval– eyes will be open with pupils dilated, ears forward, and whiskers forward-pointing and spread out.

Illustrated by Lili Chin

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