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Understanding the sounds and body language of your cat

Updated on November 3, 2013

Cat language


Speaking with your cat!

You don't have to be a cat to understand them, or "speak" their language so to speak in order to understand them. With a little time, effort, and observation, you can communicate with your cat almost as easily as talking with your friends.

It's been noted that a cats brain is more like a humans than a dog. Cats are intelligent, resourceful, graceful and make fantastic domestic pets!

When you understand what your cat is telling you either by vocalization or body language, it improves bonding and makes your pet very happy!

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Sounds a cat makes and what they are trying to tell you

Cats can make over 100 different sounds. But here are the most common, and what your cat is trying to tell you when it makes them.

Hissing-This noise is often heard during a threat or attack. Your cat is letting you know that it is mad and has had enough of whatever is going on. Consider this a warning before a potential attack.

Purring-When your cat purrs, it is signaling to you that it is happy and content and it's gently letting you know "hey, I'm okay, I'm here"

Meowing-Different tones of meows can mean a few different things. Some cats are naturally more vocal than others and may be meowing just simply to have a conversation with you. They may also be letting you know "hey, I'm hungry" or "I'd like to know what you are doing"

Chirping or chattering-You've probably witnessed your cat sitting at a window watching the wildlife outdoors. Your cat’s tail may begin swinging wildly from side to side and he may even crouch at the window, as if he’s going to bust through the glass and pounce on the unsuspecting animal he's spotted. It’s then that you hear that sound – the little chattering noise that comes from your cat. It's been said that cats make this chirping or chattering sound when they are on the hunt for prey. It's also been said that this noise signals a reflex in the mouth and jaw for when they latch on to what they are about to try to catch. Exercise for the muscles, if you will.

Body language


How to read your cat from reading this book!

Cat body language

A cat's eyes-

  • Narrowed pupils may indicate an aggressive threat, tension or a heightened interest in what you are doing.
  • Wide open eyes portray curiosity and listening.
  • Half closed eyes or closing when hearing your voice, your cat is saying I'm sleepy, or I love you.
  • Pupils that appear as slits are saying I'm feeling alert and confident.
  • Big bugged out eyes, means I'm scared or frightened!
  • Blinking and winking at you, means your cat is content and confident.
  • Clouded eyes may mean your cat may be feeling sick, see a vet!
  • A kitty whose eyes are staring straight at you is saying, "I'm your boss and I'm dominant." A stare is a challenge has now ensued. Do not look away.


  • Pointing forward-friendly interest and varying degrees of attentiveness.
  • Pricked up or turned slightly backward-warning..."I'm about to attack"
  • Fully erect but aimed back- "I'm a very angry kitty right now"


  • Still and raised- kitty is feeling confident and friendly.
  • Sudden whipping- Kitty is very excited and angry, and may feel a threat of attack is nearby.
  • Just a flick of the tip-kitty is slightly dissatisfied or feeling impatient
  • Hanging straight down- kitty is relaxed
  • Tail is straight out behind them- kitty is exploring and feeling cautious.


  • Contracted- Your cat is scared
  • Stretched- Your cat is confident and prepared to attack
  • Arched- Your cat is stretching or ready to defend
  • Aggression- Your cat will have erect ears, constricted pupils, and the tail will swing wildly in low arcs close to its body.
  • Crouching- Your cat is feeling defensive.


  • Erect fairly even all over their body- You're cat is ready to attack and trying to threaten its opponent.




A lot can be noticed simply by viewing the action of the whiskers. When a cat is excited, tense and ready to act, the whiskers will be pointed forward and fanned out. On a calm or comfortable cat, they point outward and are less spread apart. A cat that is hunting will thrust its whiskers forward. The shy or reserved cat will bunch the whiskers together and flatten them out to the side of the face. Whiskers flat against the face mean your cat is frightened.

Cat body language

© 2013 Rebecca


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    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      I can remember when my cat would jump up on the chair across from me at the breakfast table and just stare at me. Yes, he was telling me who was the boss -- get my dinner! Great article and I learned a lot from reading it.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Understanding the sounds and body language of your cat, very interesting but I am not a cat lover but have learned more here about understanding cat's behaviors.

    • Bishop55 profile image

      Rebecca 4 years ago from USA

      LOL! That's great!

    • quicksand profile image

      quicksand 4 years ago

      Cat liker here! I was not surprised to hear that a cat's brain is similar to a human's. My cat had various tones to represent various "requirements!" I cannot simply forget the instance when I caught him in an area which I had declared "strictly out of bounds" to him.

      He did not want to run away and confirm his guilt. Instead he tried out a series of "ngyeaows" with a surprised look on his face, the tone resembling that of a human who had lost his way, asking "where am I?" and "how did I get here?"

      (: --- :)