How to Read Your Cat’s Body Language

If you ever want to know what your cat is thinking, just look at his eyes and ears because they both offer lots of information about what is on your cat’s mind.

They Eyes Have It

Although a fixed gaze and rigid body posture might mean hostility, the same look might be soliciting petting or some other form of attention in a relaxed, purring cat. Another fairly definite eye sign relates to pupil size. If your cat’s pupils are constricted and slit-like, his mood is probably ambient, bordering on vegetative. Or perhaps it’s predatory. However, if your cat’s pupils become fully dilated in broad daylight, appearing as large black pools, he’s either in pain or ready to fight or run away.

Increased pupil size is not intended to intimidate other cats or people but rather to allow more light into the eyes. Cats’ pupils are always large at night, but veterinarians learn very quickly to beware when a cat’s pupils are fully dilated in a brightly lit examination room. The degree of opening of the eyelids can tell a tale, too. Wide-open eyes correlate with alertness and increased levels of mental activity – ready for action, if you will. Semi-closed or fluttering eyes mean that the cat is in a more dozy, complacent mood or may be in the mood for a nap. So, if your cat’s eyelids flutter and periodically close while he is looking at you, it is a sign of faith or trust. Even if he is on the brink of falling asleep at the time, squinting at you is still a compliment because he is showing that he is comfortable and trusting enough to take a nap in your presence.

The Ears Have It Too

A cat’s ears can adopt several different positions and for several different reasons. Ears erect and forward mean he is alert, with his attention focused ahead. If the ears are swiveled sideways like a swing-wing fighter, the cat is on the offensive. Ears pressed backward onto the head giving the appearance of a snake is a sign of extreme defense (ears folded back to protect them from harm.) One ear forward and one back means your cat is in an ambivalent mood. Ears rotating like radar dishes means they are listening carefully in an attempt to find the source of the sound.

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