Cat Postures/Body Language

Cats use their bodies to communicate, more than they do with vocalizations. Tail, ear, and even whisker positions convey a great deal about the mood and intentions of a cat. Physical appearance can also indicate health problems. Understanding cat body language is important to help humans know when to leave a cat alone, or when to intervene between two pet cats having a particular interaction. One problem many people tell about is with a pet cat suddenly scratching or biting while being pet by the person. Cats do give signals of when they are become agitated or over stimulated, such as ears going back and tail swishing. Learning these signals can make life with cats a lot better. See the links below for detailed information about cat body language.

Here are some pictures of various body language poses.

You're making me feel defensive, I think.

I'm feeling scared, but willing to stay and look at you if you don't come any closer. Otherwise, I'll run off, or maybe attack if I can't get away.  I'm alert and on guard, with feet in position to move.

Kitten mock battle, gray on the defense. Real fights can look the same, but in tiny kittens, they are almost always only play fighting.  Though one sometimes gets carried away.

I'm very scared.  I'm not even in position to run away, just cowering down here all tucked up.

I am testing out how much ear chewing and aggravation you'll take from me so I can know if I've grown up into a big, tough cat yet and be master of all, or if you still think I'm just a "teenager" kitten not worth getting up for.

Who are you, big gray guy?  You might be ok. I am just now getting to figure what is in this new home of mine. I am glad you are sitting calmly while I check you out.

Hello, what are you doing?

Yes, be on guard, because I am about to charge and I am serious. I don't really have glowing eyes, but I may as well.

Don't come up here, you orange beast! See my ears going back and paw raised?

I'll subdue you, you monkey! It's grab, kick and chew time for you! I'm in my "wild boy" mood.  I bet those adult cats are glad I'm using you and not them.

I really, really want to get that!

Must rub out the scent of that new cat with my cheek glands. This rug is MINE! Don't want that new cat walking on MY carpet! (But after a few weeks, I decided to let him.)

Move out of that spot! I want it. See my ear tip flipped back? I mean it, move!! Don't make me swat you.

I'm feeling confident and secure enough to lie out in the open with my tender belly exposed, even with the other cats being around.

We're just playing. See how we are mostly reclined in a relaxed way?

I have a high fever. Notice my eyes partly shut with the inner eye lid showing some? And surely you noticed I have been lying around more than usual.

I lost 40% of my body weight due to not eating much because of yet to be diagnosed and treated acute renal failure. (But I got better.) I only weigh 6 pounds here instead of my normal 10 pounds, but you can't tell from looking at me due to all my fur. More pics and info on my page.

I'm near death from non-regenerative anemia. Can't always tell just by looks how sick a cat is. (But I got better. Here is what happened.)


Below are links with details about cat body language and communication.  Some have photographs showing the various body signals written about.