Interpreting your cat’s behaviour

Cats often reveal what they are thinking and feeling through their body language - here's what it means.
Written by Mayhew team
Updated 3 years ago

Tail high and feeling good!

Just like us humans, cats often reveal what they are thinking and feeling through their body language. However, while we may be reasonably adept at reading the signs when it comes to the people around us, cats are a little more subtle and complex in the way they communicate, so we’ve put together a fun guide to help you understand your puss’s moods. A big thanks to for the gorgeous illustrations!


Usually seen when your cat is attentive and focused on toys, this is a relaxed and confident posture. Be warned, though – play could lead to scratched hands of a painful pounce on your feet if you’re not careful! You might notice your cat's whiskers pointing forwards - this is because they will be using their whiskers to judge where an object is!


Low to the ground and creeping along with whiskers brought forward, this puss thinks there is prey to be stalked. It could signify their mood is changing from light-hearted fun to something less playful!


With the tail held low, bottom close to the ground and ears splayed slightly to listen out for danger, this puss is ready to bolt ASAP if needed.


Hunching up and trying to become as small as possible, sometimes accompanied by flattening of the ears, lip-licking and swallowing, are all signs that a cat is fearful and probably wants to find somewhere to hide. You may also notice that their pupils are dilated.


Lying down and showing off their tummy, means your puss is feeling comfortable in your presence. Going in for that belly rub is definitely not advised, however, as they may become overstimulated and scratch or bite.


An upright posture with the tail curled over at the tip is a sign your cat is happy, secure in their surroundings and open to fuss and attention.


Lots of tail-swishing, fidgeting and an intense gaze may be a warning against further contact.

Super scared

An arched back and fuzzed up tail are signs of dominance wen a cat faces another cat, but when this posture is displayed to people it is a sign of being very afraid. Often seen in conjunction with hissing or swiping if you get too close!

Here’s looking at you!

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

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