Seasoned cat owners may easily understand the messages their cat’s body language are transmitting, but this Caturday, we’re here with a refresher course.
As a novice owner of both cats and dogs, I used to think that cats simply weren’t as expressive as dogs were. After all, my dog greeted me so exuberantly when I came home! My cat just stalked through the room and eyed me; obviously, she did not care for me as much. But in my crash course of cat ownership the last few years, I’ve learned that’s simply not true. Cats are just as expressive as dogs (and even more nuanced) — they’re just harder to read.
So, happy Caturday! Let’s learn about how cats express themselves.
We’re going to hone in on cat tails, specifically, although their ears, stance, and bodies often tell you a lot about their mood as well. But the tail is the easiest, most obvious indicator of what a cat wants you to know about their feelings.
High in the air
A tail high in the air, perhaps with a slight curve on the very tip, generally means your cat is in a good mood. If you just got home and she walks through with her tail like this, she’s happy to see you! This is a great time to approach her, pet her, or offer to play or show affection.
Curved, swishing slowly
This can mean that your cat is in a playful mood. Be wary if the tail is whipping around very fast or puffed up, because this may mean something else, but a slow, swishing motion from side to side — especially if your cat is focused on a toy or another household cat — usually indicates playtime.
As we just mentioned, if a tail is lashing about quickly, a cat may be angry. This can also be an indicator of a very exciting playtime. If it’s your cat, you likely know whether you’re playing with it or if there’s a threat, but if you’re ever unsure, stay back!
Cats puff up their tails when they are frightened or (again) sometimes as a part of an intense play session. Stay back if you’re ever uncertain.
Low to the ground
Low tails can indicate a neutral mood for some cats, but they can also indicate anger. As with the other tails, observe the cat’s environment. If she’s just walking through the house lazily with her tail low, she’s probably fine. If she’s looking at something very directly or walking determinedly in a certain direction, she might be angry or aggressive.
Curved around something
Cats tend to sleep with their tails curved around themselves, so when a cat wraps their tail around them, it’s sleepy time. If she wraps it around you or another cat, that indicates trust. Actually, if she’s sleeping next to or near you at all, that’s a major sign of affection for a cat. They want to feel safe when they sleep, so if your cat is with you, that means you make her feel safe!
Remember that even though this is a loose guide, cats are very much their own selves. Your cats may express themselves differently from what I listed here! Get to know your cats and how they respond to you with their body language to have a better idea of their feelings, and you’ll forge a lifelong bond.