• Cat Behavior Explained: 6 Common Cat Postures

Cat Behavior Explained: 6 Common Cat Postures

Can you tell what’s on your cat’s mind without getting the cat postures explained? You can – just follow her body language. There are different elements in cat postures (from postures and facial expressions to sounds) that are her way of communicating.

Learn how to detect them to become closer to your cat and avoid misunderstandings or conflicts. Although the cat language may appear hard to master, certain specialists in animal behavior have provided useful interpretation of some signals. Here are 6 of them.

6 Frequent Cat Postures Explained

Showing the Tummy

Cat Behavior ExplainedAccording to Jonas Jurgella, Ph.D animal researcher specializing in human-to-animal communications, cats have a more refined body language than dogs. That is why there may be problems when we try to apply to cats what we know about dogs.

You know how your cat lies on its back, showing tummy and you think she wants to cuddle? Yet, once you try stroking it, she turns aggressive on you.

Experts say this cat postures sometimes mean that your cat is happy, but can also mean that she is ready to fight. Jonas Jurgella claims that this could mean that your kitty feels at danger. Usually, she will also extend claws and teeth, which is a defensive move.

However, you should determine which of these meanings applies to your own cat.

Blinking Cat

Blinking is a common way for cats to express love and affection. These blinks are usually slow and fluttering.

One reason for this may be that, among cats, blinking and even shutting their eyes completely is the sign of utmost trust.

They also read the way you blink at them. So in order to tell your cat you come in peace and you love her, slowly blink at her.

It’s All In the Tail

Probably the best cat postures indicator of what your cat feels is its tail.

If it is straight up, it means that your cat is confident and content. When it is curled around something or someone, it indicates friendly atmosphere. If it is hidden below or between its legs, it means that your cat is insecure or even anxious.

The position usually called the “upright bottle-brush” signals that your cat feels under a threat. This position is similar to the first one mentioned with the difference that the hair on the tail is also upright. If it is accompanied by the arched back, upright hair along the back as well as the extended claws, this is a clear warning pose and you should retreat, claims Jurgella.

Read more about the different meanings of your cat’s tail position in our comprehensive guide: http://www.ourfriends4ever.com/cat-tail-understanding-cat-body-language/


Cat StarringWhile looking into one’s eyes for people stands for affection and respect, for cats it signals a threat. This is why a cat avoids those people around her who give her attention and approaches those who ignore her. For felines, fear is manifested in the widening of the pupils, states Susane Westinghouse, an animal behaviorist.

When the cat pupils are dilated, they perceive a great deal of the surroundings. This look signals that your cat is completely scared and in need of a hiding spot.

If the pupils are narrowed, however, it means that your cat is angry. Narrowed pupils are able to focus closely on one single detail. However, this can also be caused by the lighting, warns Westinghouse. Therefore, pay attention to the overall body language before making any conclusions, rather than focusing on only one body signal.

Also, be sure that your cat isn’t aware that you are watching her. In that case, she will change her cat postures and re-estimate her position.


However tame your cat may be, she is still a predator. Jurgella states that cats are “stimulus-driven” and that they can be triggered by excessive playing or fondling. When your cat sees something that moves, their first instinct is to hunt and catch it. Their strategy is to get close as slowly as possible and then suddenly pounce when they reach the perfect distance.

If a cat is after your hand, Jurgella advises stopping moving altogether. This way the instinct to treat your hand like a pray can be diminished. Pay attention and back off when your cat tells you to. The signs will be quite transparent – dilated pupils, tail held low (often twitching) and ears held flat.

If you try to calm your cat down, Jurgella warns, you may only worsen the situation. Do not even think about either talking to her or petting her.

Being Vocal

It can be said that cats are quite manipulative. They have shaped their vocal expression so as to communicate their needs. Jurgella says that meowing is reserved specifically for cat-human communication and that it is a somewhat “attention-grabbing device”.

Observe your cat closely so you can determine the subtle differences in her expressions, and you’ll learn when she wants to eat and when she needs help.

There are some general differences to help you get started:

Purring is often used to express satisfaction, but it can also be a signal that your cat wants to be petted, usually after suffering from illnesses.

Gurgling, especially of high pitch, or chatting is used to express companionship.

Growling, hissing and spitting are used to warn you that she wants you to leave her alone until she calms down.

Caterwauling is used to signal that your cat (usually the males who have not been neutered) feels the threat of other cats. The sound most often occurs with deaf cats.

There are even more sounds from our feline friends to discover.


However, each cat has its own special way of expression why it’s sometimes hard to get cat postures explained. Therefore, Jurgella believes that you are the one who knows your own cat best.

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