How Your Cat Communicates Through Body Language

We, humans, are very social creatures, we have evolved many ways to communicate with each other such as sounds, body language, facial expressions, and more subtle things. 

However, we rely heavily on our ability to speak as a method of expressing ourselves, as a result, we struggle with picking up body language signs. Animals primarily communicate through body language and are experts at understanding and expressing through this medium.

So naturally, it is very hard for you to understand what your cat is trying to communicate through subtle signs. Cats in the wild are solitary creatures, they generally prefer to be left alone. 

As a result, their method of communication is fundamentally different from ours. Adult cats in the wild never “meow” at each other, they only do this for their Human owners, this is because they understand that we pick up sounds better than body language. 

But your cats can’t communicate with you through voice alone, they primarily use body language to express their emotions with you. This includes their tail positions, body posture, ears, and subtle things like how their eyes change and small sounds.

In this article, we will be going through all the various ways your cat uses for communication and what each of them actually means. You will be able to understand if your cat is happy, angry or just being playful. 

It is important to remember that not all cats are the same, cats have very unique personalities and as a result, some of the things may not always apply to your cat. You can still look at other signs that we will mention to pick up on your cat’s mood.

So, with that out of the way, we can finally start looking at the various ways your feline friend communicates with you. Let’s get going.


There are a lot of ways cats can use their tails to communicate. You can pick up emotions like anger, excitement, happiness, or fear by understanding the different tail positions.

Let’s take a look at the different tail positions cats use and what each means.

1. Upright and completely straight

This position means that your cat is really excited about something. It is a sign of a cat that is feeling great about something, whether it’s food, toys, or you. When cats do this, they are being very affectionate so they will happily accept your pets.

2. Upright with a slight curve on the tip

When your cat has its tail in this position it means that your cat is confident and curious, you will generally see your cat doing this when it is greeting you or other cats. It is a sign of a happy and curious cat.

3. Flat tail

Cats usually have their tails in this position when they are curious but also a little defensive. This does not mean that they are angry or feeling threatened, it just means that they are a little unsure about something but still want to check it out.

4. Tail close to or between legs

When a cat’s tail is lowered to its legs it means that they are feeling scared, they are not feeling good about something, and this is one way you can tell if a cat is afraid of you or something in its surrounding.

And when the tail is tucked between their back legs, it is a sign of a lot of fear. If you see a cat doing this, then you should not approach it because it may try to attack you. 

5. Fluffy tail

Cats fluff their tails to make themselves look bigger; it is also a sign of feeling threatened. When a cat is really scared and willing to attack, you will see a combination of a lowered tail that is also fluffy. Again, you should not approach a cat when you notice this sign.

6. Tail movement

Cats will also move their tails when they feel a certain way. If a cat is not moving its tail at all or is just moving it gently this means that it is feeling confident. 

On the other hand, if you see a cat moving its tail rapidly, it means that the cat is angry or ready to attack.


Ears are also a good indicator of a cat’s mood, cat ears are very sensitive and as a result, it is important to note how they position them.

1. No movement

When you see a cat that does not move its ears at all and just lets them stay straight, it means that the cat is feeling safe. It does not need to worry about anything surprising happening to it, this is a relaxed position.

If you see a cat that is tucked down and does not move its ears at all it means that the cat is trying to hunt. They keep their ears pointed towards the object they are hunting to pick up all the information about their prey.

2. Small movements

Cats will move their ears side to side in order to pick up sounds around them, this can mean that the cat is just exploring its surroundings, or it is feeling a little scared. 

3. Ears that are flat

When a cat’s ears are tucked completely behind and are flat, it is a sign of anger. The cat is preparing for a fight.

Cats will tuck their ears because the skin of their ears is thin and quite sensitive, so if they get into a fight, their ears can get ripped. By tucking their ears back, cats are essentially protecting their ears.


Cats also use their eyes to communicate. When you see that your cat’s eyes are very sharp, i.e., their pupils are small, it is a sign that your cats are focused on something. 

This can be a playful sign as well; cats frequently practice hunting as kittens. Kittens try to develop their hunting skills by playfully attacking their siblings.

This behaviour translates into adult cats who will occasionally hunt things like toys or other small objects in the house.

On the other hand, when the eyes of a cat are wide open, i.e., its pupils are dilated, it means that the cat is relaxed. It is not focused on a single thing but is just observing its environment and looking around.


Cats make a lot of sounds, they purr, meow, trill, hiss, growl, and many more. All these sounds indicate a certain mood. 

Let’s look at some of the sounds cats make and what they mean

1. Meow

We mentioned that adult cats in the wild don’t meow at each other, this is because cats only meow to seek attention. Wild cats meow only when they need their mothers to pay attention to them as kittens.

So, if your cat is meowing at you, it means that it wants your attention. Domesticated adult cats do this because they grow to understand that meowing is the most effective way of getting your attention.

2. Trill

Usually, this sound is made by female cats, mother cats trill at their kittens to grab their attention or to communicate certain things like when food is present.

You will notice that your cat will trill at you occasionally, which is a great sign. It may or may not specifically mean anything, but cats will do this when they are happy to see you.

3. Purr

This is usually the sign of a happy and comfortable cat; however, it does not always indicate comfort. Cats also purr when they are harmed in some way. The purring helps them heal their bodies and bones.

So, if you notice that your cat is purring a lot and in different ways, it might mean that it is hurt. Especially, if it goes out frequently or if it is moving slower than usual. 

4. Hiss

Hissing is very common throughout the animal kingdom, and by and large, all hisses mean the same thing. It is a warning sign, the cat is trying to threaten you and telling you to move away.

5. Growl

Cats growl to communicate discomfort, when a cat is angry it will combine both a growl and a hiss as a warning sign.

Rubbing and Kneading

You will have noticed that cats will rub their faces on different objects. Cats do this to spread their scent around a place. It is done to mark territory or to ‘claim’ something.

If you see your cat rubbing it’s face around your house, it means that the cat considers the house as its own territory and is comfortable living there. Also, if your cat rubs its face on you, it means that it is ‘claiming’ you. This is a lovely sign of affection and means that the cat considers you as a friend.

Body Positions

Body positions are a combination of all the different signs we talked about above. You get the body position when you combine all the different things, from tail positioning, ear placement, sounds, and movement.

1. Calm body position

This is the easiest way of telling if a cat is comfortable or not. A cat that completely trusts you will often lay down on its back and show youits belly. This is a sign of complete trust. 

The belly of a cat is the weakest part of its body and if a cat is showing you its belly, it means that the cat trusts you entirely and does not see you as a threat. 

We know that it is very tempting to rub the belly of a cat when you notice this, but just remember that not every cat likes belly rubs. As we discussed, the belly is a very sensitive part of the cat, so it may feel uncomfortable if you touch a cat’s belly.

2. Uncomfortable body position

This is a combination of many different factors, things like the tail, fur, and ears will indicate if a cat is scared or angry.

Generally, scared cats will puff their entire body and elevate their back to appear bigger, this only happens when the cat is very scared of something.

On the other hand, if you see a cat that is sitting down but still puffed up with its ears tucked, it means that the cat is about to attack. This is the attacking position of most cats, and they place themselves like this so that they can immediately pounce at the threat.


It is understandably hard for us humans to pick up on animal behaviour, but as cat owners it is important for you to know the basics of cat communication.

Cats communicate mainly through body language and understanding, which means that your cat lives a happy life with you and enjoys your company.

Generally speaking, tense cats move very slowly and deliberately. They puff up their bodies and tuck their tails in. This is combined with sounds like hissing or growling, these are some of the most tell-tale signs of an angry cat, and one that you should avoid.

On the other hand, a cat that moves around carelessly, looks around, purrs, and meows a lot is generally quite happy. It enjoys your company and feels comfortable in the house that it lives in.

Sometimes cats just wish to be left alone. So, even if your cat hisses at you occasionally or stays away from you, it doesn’t mean that it hates you. Cats are very independent creatures, and they like to live on their own terms.

If your cat isn’t happy to play with you one day, you should just let it be alone for some time. This will calm the cat down and it will eventually be happy to be with you again.

Now that you have looked at all the small details of cat behaviour, you can easily tell if any cat feels comfortable around you or if it is really scared and wants to be left alone.

We hope that the information in this article was helpful and gave you a better understanding of your feline friend. 

Leave a Comment