Understanding Cat Behavior
There are as many cat personalities as there are cats, so understanding your kitty is largely a matter of getting to know his likes and habits. As individual as they are, cats are still governed by instinct, so being able to read their body language and actions is a key component to understanding cat behavior.
Just like humans, cats’ body language is often a telling window into their mood, and is usually a loud and clear signal of what’s going through kitty’s mind. Read you cat’s posture and behavior to better understand her.
Happy: Most cat owners are familiar with body language and behaviors that indicate a cat’s in a good mood:
- Tail held high: Cats hold their tails nearly straight up when they’re happy, particularly when they’re greeting a family member.
- Blinking: Slow, exaggerated blinks are one of the many ways cats show affection. This behavior is sometimes referred to as “kitty kisses” by cat owners.
- Head Butting: Rubbing up against you lets your cat place her scent on you, a sure sign that she’s happy.
- Relaxed Ears: Ears held loosely forward and slightly to the side are a sign that your kitty is relaxed – which usually means he’s happy and content with you.
Nervous/Agitated: As small animals, cats can be naturally skittish. While they’ll typically run and hide from anything too threatening, they’ll also express nerves and frustration in a similar manner:
- Tail Twitching Quickly: A quickly wagging tail, particularly one that thumps on against the surface on which a cat sits, is a sign that she isn’t happy with whatever’s developing.
- “Balling:” When cats curl their paws underneath them, wrap their tail around their body and sink down, it’s typically a sign that they don’t want to be disturbed. Sometimes when they’re scared, cats assume this pose to try to look small and hide.
- Ears and Whiskers Forward: Frustrated cats will push their ears forward and jut whiskers out as it focuses on what it wants.
- Pacing: Agitated cats may pace as they seek to burn off anxious energy.
Angry/Scared: Of course, you’ll want to eliminate anything that angers or scares your cat, as much as it’s possible.
- Puffed Tail: A fluffy, extended tail (think of Halloween decorations) is a sure sign that your cat is terrified or extremely angry, and is doing her best to look bigger.
- Ears Pinned Back: Like most animals, cats pull their ears close to their head to protect them when they’re scared.
- Flattened Whiskers: A scared cat pulls its whiskers close to its face.
- Eyes Dilated: A cat’s eyes will become fully dilated – almost all black pupils – when he is scared.
Understanding cat behavior will help you and your family bond better with your kitty, as well as help iron out any misunderstandings you may have.