Q: How can I understand my cat’s body language?
A: Our cats always try to tell us something and the more we can understand their signals, the better. Have you ever noticed when you have a group of friends over the one person who is ignoring your cat, while everyone else is making a fuss, is the one your cat seems to like? I believe that cats do not like prolonged eye contact, which can make them feel threatened. That is why they might walk over to the person in a crowd not looking at them — but I always joke that they secretly just want to win over another cat lover.
Cats use every part of their body to communicate with us and other species. When a cat slowly opens and closes her eyes it is a sign of utter contentment and relaxation, particularly when being petted or shown affection. When my cat Roscoe was a kitten, I made a point of always giving him lots of love and affection and would gently kiss his tummy and blow softly on it. My cat enjoyed it so much that even as a 16-pound adult, he still rolls over on his back and with a silent meow says he is ready for some TLC. Exposing the tummy is a sign of total trust and my cat is still cute as a button.
Ears are a good barometer of how cats feel and actually move independently of each other. Even during cat naps you can see ear movements, but when your cat is fully awake and has her ears flattened against her head, it’s a sign of danger so be careful.
A cat’s tail is very expressive and will certainly tell a tale all by itself. A gently waving cat tail is a sign of contentment or concentration. A vigorously lashing tail usually signals anger and a fully charged Halloween-style tail can be a sign of fear or the start of aggression — something is going on. More often than not it is easily diffused and all can return to normal. As always I welcome your comments and stories.