Cat-speak Dictionary: Tail Talk and Body Language
The vast majority of inter-cat communication is done by subtle changes in body language and varying the position of the tail, ears, and whiskers. Most of these gestures are pretty standard, but each cat is an individual and your own kitten may have other specific “tells” for how he’s feeling. Below are basic descriptions of the various attitudes your cat displays with his body language.
- A friendly and relaxed cat holds his ears pricked slightly forward. His whiskers stand straight out from his face, his tail is upright or relaxed, and his fur is smooth and flat. Your cat may welcome you by trotting toward you with his tail up and greet you with happy chirps and trills.
- A playful kitten holds his tail in an inverted U while he runs toward you or ambushes his toys. He may chirp or chatter if he’s playing with other kittens or especially enjoying a play session with you.
- A frightened cat’s fur on his back and tail stand up on end. His tail lashes or is held close to his body, his whiskers are flat against his face, his ears are flat and pointing down and back, his pupils are dilated, and he may growl, hiss or spit.
- An angry or aggressive cat will stare directly at the object of his aggression. His pupils are constricted and narrow, and the fur on his shoulders and tail may be raised. His tail is swishing or thumping on the ground, his lips are curled, his ears are flattened and pointed sideways with the inner ear visible. If a fight is imminent, he stands stiff-legged with his hind end elevated.
- An annoyed cat will flatten his ears against his head and pull his whiskers back tightly against his face. The tip of his tail twitches and the eyes may be narrowed.
- A cat that wants his space will sit in the classic “cat statue”posture with his tail tightly wrapped around his legs. When a cat is sitting with all his body parts tucked in, he is indicating that he’d prefer not to be approached or touched at that moment.