Understanding your cat

How do cats communicate their emotions and stress level? Purring, meowing, petting, licking…: Learn how to speak cat with these tips from the veterinarians at Passionimo.

How do Cats Communicate their Emotions?

Yes, cats can feel stress! But how do they communicate it to their humans? Is purring always a sign of happiness? Learn to speak cat with these explanations from the veterinarians at Passionimo.

How do cats convey their stress level?

Felines say a lot with their body language:

  • Eyes: Cats send a lot of messages with their pupils. When they are uncomfortable, their pupils get dilated.
  • Ears: Will be lowered and cocked to the side in times of stress.
  • Posture: When they feel stressed, cats will slink down and curl up in a ball in an attempt to make themselves smaller.
  • Tail: A cat’s swinging tail conveys the opposite of a dog’s: when dogs wag their tails, it means happiness whereas a cat’s twitchy tail is a sign of discomfort.

A relaxed tail held slightly down means that all is well. Cats will straighten their tails when they are interested in something or someone. A bristled tail paired with raised hair on the back means that the cat feels threatened and is becoming defensive. And when cats are scared, they cower and tuck their tails under their body, going into a crescent position.

Are there other behaviours displayed by cats in times of stress?

As the level of stress increases, cats will adopt even more explicit behaviours. Let’s say an unknown dog enters the house, cats will prefer hiding. They will seek out hiding places where they can see without being seen. If they choose or are forced to fight—for a prey, for instance—they will bristle to try and appear bigger.

Annoyed cats can lick themselves at odd times. For example, if you push Fluffy off her favourite armchair, she will probably take a few steps and then stop to give herself a few licks. That’s a sign of annoyance, and also a way to calm herself.

Cats hiss and spit when pushed to the extreme limit. For example, if 2 cats are standing together and one hisses, it means the cat feels bullied and is reaching the end of his rope.

Some cats climb on people to get petted but wind up biting after a minute or 2. Why?

Well, who said they climbed on us to get petted? Cats come to us to snuggle and partake in our heat, or because they enjoy being held. We’re the ones who assume they want us to caress them.

Is purring always a sign of contentment?

Not always but most of the time, yes. Cats will purr to express their happiness, but they might also purr in times of pain or distress as a way to calm themselves.

Other telltale signs humans appreciate:

  • When cats nuzzle you gently, it’s their way of saying hello.
  • When cats rub against you, it’s a sign that they like you and acknowledge you as a part of their environment and as a member of their private circle.

Do you have more questions?

Don’t hesitate to reach out to the Passionimo veterinary clinic nearest to you.

You have more questions?

Do not hesitate to contact the nearest Passionimo veterinary clinic.