What Do The Different Cat Movements Mean?

Are you a self-proclaimed cat whisperer, or are you simply curious about what your feline friend is trying to tell you through their movements and gestures? Either way, we’ve got you covered. As experts in the field of understanding cat behavior, we’re here to help decode the mysterious language of our furry companions.

Cats are notorious for being subtle and nuanced in their communication, often requiring a keen eye to decipher their body language. But fear not, as we’ll guide you through every aspect of your cat’s movements – from ear and tail positions to body postures and facial expressions.

Through this blog post, you’ll learn how to differentiate between signs of happiness, relaxation, aggression, and even potential health issues that may manifest in your cat’s movements. Understanding these signals can help you provide better care for your pet while strengthening your bond with them.

So whether you’re a seasoned cat enthusiast or new to the world of feline companionship, join us on this exciting journey as we explore the different movements and gestures that make up the fascinating world of cat communication.

Tail Position

They use their body language to convey their emotions and needs, and one crucial aspect of this is tail position.

The first tail position we’ll discuss is the “happy tail.” When a cat holds its tail upright and still, it indicates that they are content and confident. It’s often seen when your cat is relaxing or approaching you for attention. However, if the tail starts to twitch, it may indicate that your cat is getting annoyed or agitated.

Cats also use a curved or bent tail to communicate. If the curve is towards the back, it usually means fear or anxiety. Your cat may feel threatened or uncomfortable in its surroundings. On the other hand, if the curve is towards the front, it suggests excitement or anticipation. When your cat sees you coming home from work, they may curve their tail towards the front to show their excitement.

A puffed-up tail is a sign that your cat is feeling threatened or scared. This position makes your cat appear larger than they are to intimidate their perceived threat. It can be accompanied by other signs of aggression such as hissing or growling.

Lastly, when your cat tucks their tail between their legs, it usually means that they are feeling anxious or submissive. This position indicates that your cat feels vulnerable and wants to avoid confrontation.

In addition to tail position, other ways cats communicate through body language include ear position and body posture. By paying attention to these signals, you can better understand your cat’s needs and emotions.

Ear Position

When a cat is feeling relaxed and comfortable, their ears will be in a natural position, pointed forward. This indicates that they feel safe and content in their surroundings. Conversely, if a cat feels threatened or anxious, their ears will be flattened against their head in a clear sign that they’re feeling scared or uncomfortable.

As curious creatures by nature, cats will move their ears towards the sound or object they’re observing if they’re interested or intrigued. For instance, when stalking prey or exploring new environments, cats may use their ears to gather information about their surroundings. However, if your cat’s ears are constantly twitching or moving rapidly, it could indicate that they’re agitated or nervous.

Another crucial aspect of ear position is the direction of the ear tips. If your cat’s ear tips are pointing upwards and slightly outwards, it’s a sign that they’re feeling confident and alert. But if the ear tips are pointed backwards or sideways, it could indicate that the cat is defensive or afraid.

Therefore, it’s crucial for cat owners to pay attention to their pet’s ear position as it can provide valuable insights into their mood and behavior. By understanding these subtle signals, owners can better communicate with their cats and provide them with the care and attention they need. Remember that every cat has unique ear positions specific to their breed or personality, so it’s vital to observe and learn about each individual cat’s behavior cues.

Body Language

Cats are renowned for their complex body language, and decoding their movements is an essential part of understanding their emotions. Learning to read your cat’s body language can help you communicate better, develop a deeper bond, and create a more fulfilling relationship with your feline friend.

When a cat arches its back, it can mean one of two things. If their fur is standing on end, they are likely feeling threatened or scared. However, if their fur is flat, it signifies that they are happy and content. So, next time you see your furry companion stretch out its back, pay attention to their fur.

Another key indicator of your cat’s mood is their ears. If their ears are perked up and facing forward, they are alert and interested in something. But if their ears are flat against their head, it can indicate fear or anxiety. Keep an eye on your cat’s ears to understand how they are feeling.

The position of your cat’s tail also speaks volumes about their emotional state. A high, straight tail symbolizes happiness and confidence, while a low, tucked tail may indicate fear or anxiety. So, watch for your cat’s tail movements to gauge their mood.

Cats also communicate through their eyes. Dilated pupils with wide-open eyes suggest excitement or playfulness. Squinted eyes show relaxation and trust. Therefore, keep an eye on your cat’s eyes to understand what they are trying to communicate.

Kneading and Rubbing

At first glance, these actions may seem insignificant, but they hold a lot of meaning for your beloved companion.

Kneading is a common movement that cats make by pushing and pulling with their paws, usually on soft surfaces such as blankets or pillows. This behavior has its roots in their time as kittens when they would knead their mother’s teats to stimulate milk flow. As adults, cats continue to knead as a way to self-soothe or express contentment and relaxation.

Rubbing, on the other hand, is a way for cats to mark their territory. When a cat rubs against something, it leaves behind its scent through glands in their face and body that release pheromones. This territorial marking allows cats to communicate with other cats and humans in their environment.

So why do cats knead and rub? Kneading is an indication that your cat feels safe and comfortable in its surroundings, while rubbing is a way of claiming ownership of objects or people. Both behaviors are natural for cats and should not be discouraged unless they become excessive or destructive.

If you notice your cat kneading or rubbing excessively, it may be a sign of anxiety or stress. In these cases, it is important to seek advice from your veterinarian or a behaviorist to address any underlying issues.

Yawning and Licking

As we all know, cats are notorious for their love of napping, yawning, and licking themselves. However, these seemingly mundane activities can hold deeper meanings that we may not have considered.

Let’s start with yawning. While it’s commonly associated with tiredness or boredom, excessive yawning can actually be an indication of stress or anxiety in cats. When feeling anxious, cats produce cortisol, a hormone that can cause them to yawn excessively. Therefore, if you notice your cat yawning more than usual, it may be worth investigating what’s causing their anxiety.

Not only can yawning indicate anxiety, but it also has a positive side. When cats yawn in the presence of humans or other cats, it can be a signal of relaxation and submission. This means they feel comfortable and safe in their environment.

Now let’s delve into licking. Cats are famously fastidious groomers, so it’s no surprise that they spend a lot of time licking themselves. However, licking can also be a social behavior used to establish bonds with their owners or other cats. It’s a way for them to show affection and strengthen relationships.

But excessive licking can be a sign of anxiety or obsessive-compulsive behavior. If you observe your cat obsessively licking themselves or objects around your home, it may be time to seek help from a veterinarian.

Scratching and Growling

As we know, our feline friends have unique behaviors, and two of the most common are scratching and growling. Scratching is a natural and necessary behavior for cats to maintain their claws and stretch their muscles. However, it may also serve as a way of marking their territory with their scent glands in their paws. On the flip side, growling is a sign of aggression and discomfort that should not be ignored.

Scratching is an instinctive behavior that cats exhibit, and it’s essential to provide them with appropriate outlets for this behavior to prevent destructive scratching. If you notice your cat scratching at furniture or other surfaces, it may be a sign that they need a scratching post or other suitable surface to redirect their scratching habits. This will prevent damage to your furniture while allowing your cat to maintain their natural behavior.

On the other hand, growling is a warning sign that your cat is feeling threatened or uncomfortable. This aggressive behavior can be accompanied by hissing, spitting, and arching of the back. As a responsible pet owner, it’s crucial to identify the source of your cat’s discomfort and give them some space. Ignoring or dismissing this behavior as simply “grumpiness” can result in potential harm to both you and your cat.


In conclusion, the key to a strong bond with your feline friend is understanding their movements and gestures. As experts in cat behavior, we’ve explored various aspects of cat communication, including tail position, ear position, body language, kneading and rubbing, yawning and licking, scratching and growling.

By paying attention to your cat’s tail position, you can decipher whether they’re feeling happy, relaxed or anxious. The position of their ears also provides valuable insights into their mood and behavior. And let’s not forget about body language – it’s a crucial factor in decoding your cat’s emotions.

Kneading and rubbing are natural behaviors that cats use to self-soothe or claim ownership over objects or people. Yawning can indicate relaxation or anxiety while licking is a social behavior that helps establish bonds with owners or other cats. However, excessive licking may be a sign of anxiety or obsessive-compulsive behavior.

Scratching is an instinctive behavior for cats but providing them with appropriate outlets for this behavior can prevent destructive scratching. Growling is a warning sign that shouldn’t be ignored as it signals that your cat feels threatened or uncomfortable.

So next time you’re cuddling with your furry companion, pay attention to their movements and gestures – they’re communicating more than you think.