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Is your cat trying to tell you something? Help to better understand your cat's needs by getting to know basic cat body language.

Cat body language

Cats are subtle and complicated in the way they communicate, but taking time to learn their body language can help to strengthen the relationship with your cat. You can even find out how to reply to them!

Common cat body language

A cat approaching you with its tail up pointing at the top is greeting you, often seen when they are coming home or when they want your attention. Make sure you acknowledge their greeting and give them a bit of fuss.

Rubbing on people or the corners of furniture - particularly when you have just come home - is your cat’s way of scent marking. While it is a greeting of sorts, your cat is doing it because you smell strange to them and they want to make you more familiar.

If your cat rolls over and exposes their belly, then it’s a sign of greeting and trust. It is not an invitation to rub their tummies! Most cats will see this as a betrayal of trust and may retaliate with claws and teeth! A slight head rub is a better way to respond.

Purring shows that your cat is content or is looking for attention.

To show your cat that you are comfortable in their presence, you can slow blink at them and move your head slightly to the side. If you’re lucky, your cat will do the same back!

Cat body language - visual guide

Cat body language behaviour infographic

Cat stress - visual guide

Visual guide to cat faces when stressed graphic

Signs of distress

Flattened ears and/or body is a sign that your cat is frightened and stressed. If your cat shows this behaviour, it’s important to make sure they have somewhere to hide or to get up high. Licking lips after a meal is normal behaviour, but at other times it can be a sign of feeling ill or that they are feeling stressed. If they are stressed, it is important to make sure that they have somewhere to hide or get up high. While purring is more commonly a sign of contentment, sometimes it can actually be a sign that your cat is in pain.

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