Cat Language

Cat body language has its own unique set of postures and movements.

When cats want to play, they often grab or tap at toys.

Kittens rub themselves against nearby objects and their littermates when they want attention.

Often arching their backs, and raising their tails and ears to appear bigger, followed by a slap or a bite.

Cat Language

Does your Cat speak a Language?

How Do Cats Communicate?

Everything your cat does begins with a specific body movement or posture – and some are obvious while others are subtle. A lot of people are interested in learning about cat behaviour but don’t realize that it actually starts with fully understanding the language. With observation, cat carers can understand how their cats might be feeling or what may have caused an undesirable situation.

Cats relate to others based on the situation and familiarity. For example, if a cat has kittens, other cats will help raise them. Others that are accepted members of the cat colony are treated with warmth while strangers maybe might be met with aggression.

Domestic cat behaviour can be communicated in many different ways:

How do I know my cat is happy?

Body Language Posture

Happy cats have a high head carriage and their tails upright, and look completely relaxed. They might greet you by rolling on their back. When you see your cat with their ears pushed back, whiskers forward, and chirping at everything they see – your cat is happy!

Friendly cats touch noses or foreheads, rub against each other, and lick each other on the face and head. All these gestures are perfunctory. When the licking gesture exceeds 30 seconds, it can turn into a fight.

Back Rolls

Just like a dog, a cat can show happiness in many ways. It will rub its body against our legs, roll over on its back and expose its stomach to be rubbed, purr, meow frequently in a soft tone, jump in laps the moment we sit down, and knit our clothes with paws. 

When a cat displays its vulnerable stomach area, it is feeling very safe, and relaxed in a trusted environment. Cautious owners should only touch this area with care, as many cats dislike their sensitive bellies being touched, and will lash out.

cat purr

Kneading Behaviour

Kneading is also an act of affection expressing attachment to the owners and other animals.

This is a very common behaviour amongst cats, which derives from when the kitten stimulated the mother’s milk flow. The rhythmic movements of the paws and claws drawn alternatively, almost as if they were kneading bread dough before baking a loaf in an oven. The cat’s face becomes tense and content, with eyes half-closed.

Cat Whisker Signals  

Whiskers pushed forwards indicate interest and curiosity. The mother’s whiskers are a powerful indicator for the newborn kitten when it is deaf and blind. 

Tail movement

We all know the tail movement of a dog when it is happy, a friendly cat will use its tail to encourage closeness with other individuals.  If your cat walks towards you with its tail lifted up, this is often their way of greeting you. The top of their tail may also be twitching, welcoming attention and interaction.  

A relaxed cat’s tail curves down and back up in a gentle U. The more interested, the higher the tail. Confident cats hold their tails high, and when the end tips over it denotes an interest in interaction. 

Tail Up and Vibrating

A sign of happiness and excitement. A tail slowly swaying from side to side indicates positive interest, maybe in a toy or treat. There are many safety orientated toys available to keep your cat stimulated and amused.

Tail Swishing Back and Forth

A playful motion to denote interest, or fear in a threatening situation.  The end of the tail flicking back and forth usually indicates frustration or heightened emotion. If this warning is ignored, the movement escalates to whipping or thumping — and ultimately an attack.

Tail Wrapped around a Companion

This indicates friendship between fur friends.


A cat’s ears are among its most expressive features.  Since cats use ear movements to communicate many different things, we can learn what they are thinking from the various ear positions. This is the closest we can come to interpret exactly what they are trying to tell us.


A curious cat points the ears forward. This serves to aim the funnel-shaped pinna (external ear flap) toward interesting sounds, to gather as much information about the situation as possible.

When curious or interested, cats swivel the ears from side to side to hone in on the source and location of the stimulus. You’ll see this position if your cat is watching birds flutter around outside the window. Information gathering even continues during cat naps, with ears pivoting towards any interesting sounds.

Eye contact

The happy cat’s eyes are almond-shaped rather than round. They show that they’re feeling happy and relaxed by slowly lowering their eyelids. The equivalent of a kiss is when your cat returns your eye contact with a slow blink, inviting you to slowly blink back. 

cat eyes


Rubbing against objects or others is an affectionate way for your cat to mark their territory. Cats produce pheromones from glands in their cheeks and rub against furniture and other things and people in their environment. This scent creates a familiar environment for your cat where they feel safe and secure.

Head bunting

A friendly head bunt from your cat is their way of greeting you as one of the pride. Your cat decides to rub or nudge their head on your leg, face or anywhere that takes their fancy. This is a friendly way to mark feline and human friends. 

Grooming behaviour

Cats and kittens almost continuously groom themselves by licking their coats. Their tongues have little barbs that help them to groom. Grooming is both therapeutic and functional. 

During the first moments of the kitten’s life, the mother will clean off the afterbirth material, establishing a bond with the deaf and blind kitten. 

You may notice one cat place a restraining paw on the other’s neck, asserting authority in the same way as the mother would have done.  Grooming is a sign of affection and allows a cat to mingle its scent with yours and your other pet or pets, in acceptance and familiarity. Cats groom other cats — and humans — because it calms them, and it shows trust.

Nose touching

Sociable cats touch noses in greeting, to reinforce the bond and share scents. They usually touch noses when they first catch sight of one another or have been separated for a while. Touching noses also shows they want to play and become friends.



The cat’s primary way of showing love and contentment is through kneading and purring. Cats are the only animals that purr. Not only do house cats purr; ‘big cats’ like lions and tigers purr as well. Kittens are born blind and deaf, but they can feel their mother purr, and it lets them know where she is so they can get to her to nurse. Kittens begin to purr at about one week old, letting the mother cat know they are getting enough milk.

Cats purr by vibrating the vocal cords, and purring is their response to strokes between and around the ears, and under the chin. Purring is also used to self-soothe in stressful situations – when they’re sad, in pain or under stress.

Some believe that this purring may release endorphins to help cats self soothe when they’re under duress, and you may even notice your cat purring when they are trying to communicate with you or other animals.

This means that your cat’s purr can have different meanings depending on the situation.


Cat’s meow when they want attention, are hungry or need help. Cats realise that they can ‘raise the alarm’ in this way if they are shut in a room or cupboard. 

My Mitten goes one step further and will meow in front of a door, to alert me that another cat is shut behind it. Male cats are especially vocal, and often will have lengthy conversations with their carers, Mitten always having the final say in our discussions.

A kitten meows excessively if it is not being properly cared for by the mother, or if being cared for by a foster mother. This is an early warning to rectify the problem, to avoid risking a blind or starved kitten.

Chirping and trilling

Queen cats will summon their kittens with this sound. In the home, the cat is asking you to follow them, maybe to the door or the food dish. Chatter indicates excitement, usually when watching prey.


The cat hisses when it is feeling threatened or insecure. They are very emotional creatures and will sometimes express their feelings through this one-time vocalization.


Cats have an excellent sense of smell. Cat scent marking is the act of depositing urine and other substances to declare their territory. 

They also scent marks to convey such information as gender, reproductive status, and whether they are related to the other cats in the area. Males and females both scent mark, although it is found most commonly in un-neutered males.

Cat’s in Pain

Do you love your cat, but sometimes wonder if they’re in pain? Well, fear not! Here are some expert tips on how to tell if your kitty is hurting. The body language of a cat in pain is different compared to the “cat language” of a happy cat.

How do you say hello in cat language?

Hi there! In cat language, “hello” is usually just a matter of showing some respect. Cats will often greet each other by rubbing their heads together as a way of sharing pheromones and marking their territory. So when you say hello to your cat, you might want to try mimicking this behaviour by gently petting them on the head. They’ll appreciate the gesture, and you’ll be able to communicate in Cat just like a pro!

What are the 16 known cat words?

There are 16 known cat words, and they are as follows:
meow – purr – yawn – spit – hiss – growl – snarl – chatter – murmur – trill – chirrup – chirp – cry – mew – purring – yowling

What is I love you in cat language?

I love you in cat language is “meow”.

What language do cats speak?

All cats speak the same language, though they may purr with different accents.

Conclusion Cat Language

A cat’s body language can say a lot about its health. If you do find some of the mentioned cat behaviours then you will need to take care and have a closer look at your cat. A happy cat is fun and will be a great pet in the house but if it is unhappy, you better watch out.

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