She stares at you from across the room, those emerald eyes glowing. She stretches out her front paws and yawns, revealing her pink tongue. Tail high, twitching, she moves toward you. She meows lowly and rubs against your legs. You reach down to stroke her back and BAM! She hisses, claws your hand and darts away, leaving a trail of blood in her wake.
Cats. Those fluffy, cuddly, playful and mysterious creatures.
Their behavior is tricky, but not impossible to predict. It’s all about their body language.
Here’s what to watch for:
- The Body. The whole furry body is what people usually notice first. A cat who’s lying on his back is usually relaxed and happy. (Just be sure to listen to those noises—a growl could mean he’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 her disposition by her body alone, but often her ears, tail and sounds give you the best clues.
- The Ears. 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, be aware! 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.
- The Tail. 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.
- The Eyes. Those beautiful green portholes can tell you a lot, but they can also be quite contradictive. 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.
- The Sounds. 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.” Purringgenerally 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.
By Deanna Morono
Fluffs of Luv Pet Care offers an array of customized pet care services, including in home pet sitting, dog walking, cat only pet sitting, overnight visits and cat and dog grooming and more. As the most reputable pet sitters and dog walkers in Charlotte and the surrounding area, Fluffs of Luv has put countless clients at ease by caring for their cherished companions while they were away. Give Fluffs of Luv a call for a free in home consultation or to set up a grooming appointment 704-421-3492 or visit www.fluffsofluv.com.