Is my cat playful or scared?

Understanding cat language: How to correctly interpret cat body language

Anyone who correctly interprets the behavior of cats and wants to learn the cat language must always be aware that cats are very attentive observers. They register every movement of their counterpart - every blink - and consequently even the smallest movement in the body language of cats can be of great importance. If you want to understand your cat, you have to be very attentive and look very carefully. In the following we reveal what you should pay particular attention to.

Body language of cats

Cats have very good facial expressions. The interaction of eyes, ears and tail as well as posture reveal a lot about the state of mind and mood of the cat.

For example, pointed whiskers and ears pointing forward Attention. A relaxed cate, on the other hand, lets her tail hang loosely. To greeting if it is set up, a sign that she is friendly to her counterpart.

How do cats show joy?

A cat also expresses joy by an erect tail. If the cat is happy, it will often run excitedly back and forth, sometimes accompanied by an attentive meow.

If the reason for the joy is, for example, the dear owner's return home, the cat often strokes his legs clingily and rubs his head. With this so-called "Give your head" it signals: "You belong to me", because the scent glands on the cheeks leave a mark with the individual "family smell" that we humans go unnoticed.

But be careful: many cats use the same signs of joy when they beg.

When cats want to play

You don't necessarily recognize playful cats by their particular posture, but by their entire behavior. Some cats run like crazy through the apartment or the garden when they are gripped by the play instinct.

Cats that are playful also often roll around on the floor and make the craziest contortions. If they want to encourage their people to play along, one paw is often pawed at the hand or the pant leg.

The ears as a mood barometer

The best way to tell a cat's mood is by its ears:

  • If they are relaxed and facing forward, it signals friendliness.
  • If something catches the cat's attention, the ears are turned in that direction.
  • Dissatisfaction is shown by gradually turning the ears to the side. The cat says in this way: "I don't like what you are doing right now."
  • If the ears are turned further back so that the back is visible, the cat signals fear, but also warns that it could attack immediately if it feels further threatened and cornered. Wildcats have a light spot on the back of their ears. If the back of the ears points forward, they act like a second pair of eyes, which is intended to intimidate the person opposite.
  • If the fear turns into aggression, the ears are placed flat against the head. As a rule, the cat then goes on to attack at the same moment.

How do cats show fear and aggression?

In the event of fear or aggression, the cat ruffles its fur and makes a typical hump to appear larger and thus intimidate the opponent. The ears of an aggressive cat are turned back and laid flat. If fear mixes with it, the ears are folded a little more to the side. The tail is also bristled and slightly bent as a sign of fear. An aggressive cat puts it completely horizontally.

The easiest way to do this Use the pupils to distinguish between fear and aggression. If they are close together and slit-shaped, the cat is angry. In the case of fear and excitement, on the other hand, the pupils are very wide.

What the cat's tail also reveals

The cat shows submission through one retracted tail. Sometimes she also presents her stomach, her vulnerable side, to the other person. This gesture is not as clear in cats as it is in dogs. On the one hand, they can still defend themselves perfectly with their claws lying on their backs, on the other hand, rolling on their backs is often an invitation to play. The respective context is therefore always decisive for the interpretation.

A twitching tail means uncertainty. Perhaps the cat is preoccupied with an internal conflict. This behavior can also often be observed in playful hunting. In an emergency, on the other hand, the cat behaves very rigidly and quietly so as not to be discovered by its prey.

The right amount of eye contact

First of all, eye contact signals attention. The cat's eyes are often half closed. In this way she shows that she is friendly. We should never stare at cats, even if we are fascinated by their beautiful eyes. Because Staring is considered a threatening gesture.

blink You better show your cat clearly from time to time. With a bit of luck, your kitty will blink back. They exchanged smiles in feline language.

Cats also turn their eyes away from each other when they meet in order to demonstrate peacefulness and to calm their counterparts. Blinking is also observed as a skipping act. If the cat is unsure, it prefers to signal first that it is not looking for an argument.

How do cats behave when they are ready to mate?

Queens reach sexual maturity at around four to twelve months, depending on the breed. They then become "in heat" several times a year, so they are ready to mate. The willingness to mate depends on the season, from October to December there is usually a break in which the cat is not in heat at all. With indoor cats, however, this rhythm is often lost.

Cats in heat are very restless during this time, meow a lot and roll over. They roll back and forth devotedly, which explains the name. They also put their tail to one side, another signal to show a tomcat that they are ready to mate.

Male cat become sexually mature at an average of eight to ten months. No seasonality can be observed with them, they are always ready to mate. Cats in heat are perceived by tomcats over long distances because they give off a special smell. Even a good cat can be tempted to try to break out if a cat in heat is roaming around in the neighborhood.

Most sexually mature male cats also mark their territory indoors. This behavior can be prevented with timely castration.

Sounds as part of cat communication

Cats communicate with each other mainly through gestures and smells. But they also have a distinctive sound repertoire that goes far beyond meowing:

  • Growling and hissing are to be understood as warnings.
  • In combat this turns into a throaty howl, up to screeching and yowling, which expresses aggression and sometimes also fear.
  • Tense cats or cats caught in the hunted fever sometimes chatter, although this often sounds more like smacking.
  • Soft cooing is said to calm you down and demonstrates willingness to mate.
  • Purring not only signals that a cat is comfortable, it can also serve to calm itself down. Cats probably even use it to stimulate the body's own self-healing powers. Researchers still disagree about the origin of the purr.

The actual meowing arises from the baby language and is mainly maintained in relation to humans. Many cats develop the most varied of variations, depending on what they want from "their" human. It is also particularly noticeable here how different the voices of the cats can be.

Cleaning behavior of cats

A cat spends around 3.5 hours a day grooming itself thoroughly. This typical cat behavior is of course mainly used for grooming. Mutual cleaning is also very important for social bonding.

Many cats lick their paws particularly often and extensively. In many cases, this is a skip act. This occurs when there is excitement, embarrassment or uncertainty. Such skipping acts serve as stress relievers. The cat uses a familiar act to cover up the fact that it just doesn't know how to behave properly. Licking probably also releases endorphins.

My cat is yawning - is she tired?

Cats - like us humans - occasionally yawn when they are tired and especially after waking up, combined with extensive stretching. When the mouth is opened wide, the facial muscles are relaxed.

Much more important, however, is that yawning relieves stress. Cats yawn when they are insecure or to appease a conspecific. By the way, astonishingly, animals can also be infected by people yawning.

The sleeping cat

They say cats sleep around 12 to 16 hours a day. Most of the time, however, they doze off. Their eyes are closed, but they are still registering what is happening around them.

This is particularly easy to recognize when the cat is playing with its ears and also reacting to quiet noises. If something catches the cat's attention, it opens one or both eyes and turns its head in the appropriate direction. Then she decides whether it is worth getting up or whether to go on dozing.

Cats only fall into deep sleep when they feel very safe and usually only for a few minutes at a time. In such a phase you should never touch a cat suddenly, but always speak to it beforehand. Otherwise she may get so frightened that she immediately attacks and attacks the touching hand.

There is disagreement about whether animals can really dream. However, if you watch your sleeping cat for a long time, you will find that it occasionally twitches and rows its paws while it sleeps and sometimes even starts smacking its lips. Maybe she's really dreaming of chasing a mouse right now.

Is my cat sick?

Sick cats usually show very late that they are feeling bad. The natural instincts ensure that the cat shows no weakness. Therefore, at the first signs that the cat is not doing well, you should ask a veterinarian for advice, because often the cats have been sick for a long time and have only hidden it well.

But how do you know if a cat is sick? A sick cat will stop playing first. However, since the instinct to play is individually very different and some cats, especially outdoor cats, show no interest at all in playing with humans, this is a very uncertain sign.

Only when the cat is feeling worse does it withdraw. Sick cats sleep more often, often not going to elevated places to avoid exertion. When sleepiness turns into apathy, it is often a sign of fever. In addition, sick cats often stop eating.

Body language in pain

Cats also often show almost no pain at all. In contrast to fear, cats have no body language or typical posture that generally signals pain. Cats actually only lame when they can barely walk with one paw.

Only when suddenly painful, such as when a cat's tail is accidentally pinched, does a house tiger scream. However, this is also due to the shock. Probably the most important indicator of pain is that the cat stops eating most of the time. But here, too, a clear distinction has to be made between very picky cats and the eager animals.

Ultimately, any behavior changes or abnormalities can occur Be a sign that the cat is sick. The owner who knows his animal best is also the best judge of what is normal for his cat. If you are unsure, you should go to the vet again. Because often cat owners understand the language of their own cat best and are quite correct in their assumption that something is wrong.

Updated: December 07, 2018 - Author: Malin Held

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