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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 HealthyPetU.com, 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.

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