VCA Animal Hospitals

How to interpret your cat's body language

Published: Oct 24, 2012

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We recently brought you an article about interpreting a dog's body language. But some cat owners might think that reading a dog's emotions is a piece of cake compared to figuring out what a cat wants. It's true that felines can be a bit more aloof than canines, but that doesn't mean they won't communicate their emotions and desires to you, provided you know what signs to look for. Here are some tips:

Let the tail be your signal
Much like dogs, cats use their tails to clue others in to how they're feeling. However, there are big differences in what tail movements mean when comparing felines and canines. When your cat holds her tail high, it's a sign of confidence, reports the Discovery Channel. You may notice your cat wrapping her tail around your leg - this is often a warm greeting.

Be wary if you see your cat's tail in motion. While this often indicates excitement, it can also translate to predatory behavior. If you notice your cat's tail swaying from side to side or twitching, you may want to try to engage her in play. Remember, it's always wise to encourage your cat to get some exercise, especially if she spends most of her time indoors, as this can ward off pet health issues like obesity in cats.

Pay attention to posture
Cats use their posture to indicate how they're feeling, so it's wise to pay close attention to your feline's stance. According to, if your cat is lifting her rear end higher than her front, she may be showing aggression. However, some cats also stand like this when they are being petted, so don't jump to conclusions. Cats try to make themselves look bigger by arching their back when they're feeling defensive. Rolling over is usually a sign of playfulness or happiness, though cats in heat often perform both of these actions repeatedly.

How your cat holds her head can also be indicative of her feelings, reports the website. She may stretch her head forward in greeting, or tuck her chin back when feeling relaxed. Your cat may often bump your legs or hands with her head - this is a sign of affection. A lowered head means she's feeling either aggressive or submissive, while holding her head high is a sign of assertiveness.


General Practice

We have over 540 animal hospitals in 41 states that are staffed by more than 2,000 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 200 being board-certified specialists. The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments*: Wellness, Spay/neuter, Advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), Internal medicine, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Cardiology, Neurology, Boarding, Grooming

*services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

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Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

We have twenty-eight specialty hospitals across the US so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology and surgery.

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Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately. If it is after hours, check with a local animal hospital emergency clinic.