Kitties. Furry balls of fluff. I read somewhere that if you incorporate pictures of cute kittens into WHATEVER you have on the Internet, your page views will skyrocket.
There's just something about cats that makes them uber-powerful, even on the Web. In real life, the power cats hold makes them pretty mysterious. Like, how do kittens scare giant dogs? How do cats scare off bears?
It's all about body language.
I've certainly never tried to understand cats. In fact, I tend to leave cats alone and let them do their thing. While dogs, horses and even baby crocodiles are pretty transparent, cats are like devious, conniving evil masterminds with adorable, squish-able bodies.
Life is just so confusing.
Anyway, I’ve had a lot of people ask me (because I’ve trained dogs and horses all my life) what the heck cats are thinking. What does their body language mean? Why do they pee on your favorite pillow? Why do they attack your legs when you walk by? Why do they like being up high?
I can only guess that most cats have the same agenda: World domination over the world. Other than that, I honestly don’t know why they act the way they do, most of the time. So I did a little research. Pretty much all I can do is help you read the signs.
Here’s what to watch for so you’ll know when you’re about to meet your demise via kitty claws (or other ingenious methods of feline stealth):
The whole furry body is what people usually notice first. A cat who’s lying on her back is usually relaxed and happy. (Just be sure to listen to those noises—a growl could mean she’s getting ready to strike!)
A cat who’s back is arched and fur flat is ready for affection; but a cat who’s back is arched with fur standing on end is angry or scared.
Did you know that a cat who rubs against your legs doesn’t necessarily mean she wants attention? It’s actually her way of marking her territory (surely you’ve noticed how many objects in your home your kitty rubs against?).
And what about a kitty who kneads on you or her cat bed? That means she’s very content—not that she’s trying to claw you to death. Sometimes you can what her disposition is by her body alone, but often her ears, tail and sounds give you the best clues.
There are three different things your cat’s ears can tell you. Forward ears can mean your cat is happy, interested and alert; but if they’re pinned back or sideways, beware! Your cat is angry, frightened or irritated. And when they move around? She’s listening to everything going on around her.
Changes come quick, and the ears are an easy way of detecting her attitude.
Like the ears, the tail holds many clues as to your kitty’s behavior. A tail held high with flat fur means she’s happy and inquisitive. A high tail with fur standing on end—she’s angry or frightened. A tail held very low or tucked between the legs means she’s anxious. A thrashing tail signifies irritation and anger. Sometimes during playtime the tail might thrash, too, signifying hunting mode—also not a good time to love on kitty.
Those beautiful green portholes can tell you a lot, but they can also be quite contradictory.
When the pupils are thin, it means your cat could be offensively aggressive, but it can also mean she’s content. When the pupils are large, it could mean your cat is submissive or nervous. Other times it can mean she’s playful or even on the defensive.
Clearly it’s best to discern her behavior by observing other body parts.
Purring, chattering, hissing, yowls—every noise your cat makes can tell you what she’s thinking. Most meows are your cat’s way of saying “hello” or announcing her presence. Some are commands, like “feed me.” Others are warnings, like “touch me and lose your hand.”
Purring generally means your kitty’s happy and content. Chatter (like those noises she makes when she’s watching birds out the window) usually indicates your kitty is in hunting mode. Hissing is a warning. She’s angry, scared or aggressive—so leave her alone. Yowls (long, drawn-out meows) are noises of distress, like if your cat is locked in a cupboard, injured or looking for you.
Every noise your cat makes is helpful and important to notice. A silent cat, though, should be observed more thoroughly to find hints to her behavior.
So the next time your kitty approaches you, be observant. Watch every body part—each works together to tell you what she’s thinking. If she approaches you with a twitching tail, observe the fur on her back. If she has a low meow, remember that’s probably closer to a hiss or growl. Noticing these signs, you can deduce she’s probably more aggressive than affectionate. So let her be. Protect yourself from those claws and learn how to better communicate with your cat.
This article was originally written for and posted on FluffsofLuv.com.