Cat owners know that their pets can sometimes be quite hard to read. Unlike dogs, our feline friends aren't always an open book when it comes to their emotions.
But that's also what makes these furballs so special. You have to earn their love and devotion. You have to get to know them and their moods and tells.
According to experts, feline body language is far more nuanced than dogs. So what is your cat trying to communicate? Do you know what to look out for when they're trying to tell you they're stressed and anxious or, on the contrary, when they're happy and content?
Here's 3 key cat body language signs to watch out for...
One of the most accurate ways to tell a cat's mood is its tail. When a cat comes towards you with its tail up, usually pointing at the top, this is a greeting. This is their way of saying 'hi' and soliciting your attention.
Cats usually do this when you come home to them. The best way to respond to this is to give them a rub or a pat and say 'hi' back.
When a cat's tail is curled around your legs or another cat it signals friendliness and familiarity.
A cat's tail can also tell you when your pet isn't doing so well. A tail tucked between the legs or low means insecurity and anxiousness. While a bottle-brush like tail (kind of like the ones you see in cartoons of frightened cats) is a sure sign of trouble. A upright, bottle brush tail, especially when combined with an arched back signals that a cat is feeling threatened and you should back off/remove the threat.
Ever noticed your furry friend blinking slowly at you? That's their way of showing affection and love. In the feline world, closing one's eyes (even for a moment) in the presence of another is the highest sign of trust and comfort around another being.
The best way to respond is to slowly blink back at your cat. This tells them that you are acknowledging their affection and pose no threat.
But don't hold the eye contact too long. Cats, unlike humans, don't respond well to long periods of direct eye contact. Have you ever noticed that in social settings cats always gravitate towards the one person in the room that is ignoring them? That's why!
Cats can seem overly snappy or moody at times. One minute it will be flirtatiously rolling on its back and playing with you, the next minute it's trying to claw you!
Even mild-mannered kitties will retaliate if they feel threatened or irritated by too much play or petting. Cats, by nature, are predators and are hardwired to pounce and prey when they reach a certain arousal threshold.
When they see something move like a toy or a hand they want to pursue it the way they pursue prey before they pounce. If you notice your cat getting overly agitated or aroused during playtime (dilated pupils, low twitching tail, flattened ears) then your cat is trying to tell you to back off.
It is best to freeze. The sudden stop of the movement will interrupt the cat's inbred instincts to pursue and pounce.
The worst thing to do in this setting is to pet or stroke your pet. They won't respond well to this!
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Purina ONE® are proud sponsors of Cat Hospital which premieres on RTÉ One on Friday at 8.30pm.