10 Cat Body Language Expressions To Know

Cat body language is more of an art than a science it often seems. Our sweet feline friends have lots to say, but often communicate through expressions instead of words. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and similarly, a cat’s body language speaks volumes as well without opening their little mouths.

Cat language covered in this article include often possible uses of:

-Blinking eyes
-Ears tuned but not looking
-Swept back ears
-Tail position
-Rolling around on back
-Twinkle toes
-Rubbing against your legs
-Love bites
-Pawing at you

Blinking Eyes

It’s been said that cats slowly blink their eyes when looking at you to say hello.

This sweet and gentile form of cat language is similar to a human’s non-verbal hand wave to say hi to someone. It may seem unusual that a kitty would blink their eyes to say hello until you try it out yourself. Try blinking at your cat and see if kitty returns the blink back. Clearly, some cats are more vocal with their body language than others, but many cats will return the blink back to you to say hello.

Ideally, this seems to work best when the kitty is relaxed and in a sphinx position pointed toward you with arms in front or curled under their chest. Take a moment to call the kitty’s name and get their attention, then softly & slowly blink at them with both eyes. Then watch to see if they return the blink.

Every kitty body languange is different. Some speak and purr in place of blinking hello. Try it on the feline you love and see what response you get!

Ears Tuned But Not Looking

The next cat body language we will review is something many kitty parents can relate to. When cat’s ears are tuned toward you, but they are not looking at you, and it feels like a blatant form of the cat ignoring you.

Before we go to far though, keep in mind that cat’s are very incredible animals with a great sense of hearing. Cat’s may not need to look directly at you to be in tune with what you are saying.

The cat body language this indicates is similar to a person talking while you are driving. You may not be looking at the person you’re having a conversation with, but are likely listening to them. All the while your eyes are on the road. There may be other times that people are talking but you are ignoring them while focusing on changing lanes or merging with heavy traffic. It doesn’t mean you don’t care what they have to say, but rather it means there are higher priority matters requiring your attention.

Then finally, there are the times the kitty may actually be tuning you out. Have you ever tuned someone out when you’re just not in the mood to have a conversation? While it’s impossible to know for sure, it may be that cat’s want or need some peace and quite too. Additionally, consider a time you are half asleep and just not as responsive to people talking. Cat’s sleep far more than humans and doze off quite frequently.

Be assured, however, that you kitty loves you regardless of whether they are looking at you or not when you speak to them.

Swept Back Ears

When intense, nervous, or threatened, cats often sweep their ears back. This cat body language is often apparent when being bullied. You will often see cats sweep back their ears when they feel defensive or are being stalked by another animal. Similarly they may do this if they are preparing to fight off a predator. Swept back ears may be accompanied with hissing depending on the gravity of the situation.

Finally, somtimes loud sudden noises may surprise or scare them, which sometimes causes this cat body language.

There may be other triggers to this, so take note of the environment next time a cat exhibits this behavior to learn more about what scares them. That way you can try to find ways to prevent common recurrences.

Tail Position

There are multiple cat body language messages expressed through the tail.

Fast wagging of their tail quickly can often mean the kitty cat is awake, active, vibrant or excited. You may witness such behavior when a cat runs to look outside of a window, excited about something. Fiercely wagging their tail as a result of something alerting or alarming them to something occuring in the yard such as another animal.

Slower, more relaxed tail wagging often occurs when the cat is content and walking around in a casual demeanor and setting. It often appears to expresses confidence, love, and happiness. Often this cat body language is exhibited when they are purring while you are petting them and they walk around.

Many cats walk around with their tail in a generally upward position when they appear to have a positive self image. Similarly, many cats that don’t appear to feel good, who are depressed, or who have low self esteem may walk with their tails downward. Love, attention, and comfort may be able to improve your kitty’s self esteem sometimes. Also brushing a cat may increase the self esteem of some cats as well.

Rolling Around On Back

A common cat body language that’s easy to detect is when they roll around on their backs. Often such expression occurs with eyes wide open, or even with open mouths. Usually when cats roll around on their back while active it may mean they want to play! This is very different from a cat that is sleeping or laying on it’s back. Often when a cat wants to play they begin running or jumping around quickly and causing mischief.

It’s always pretty easy to find out if the cat wants to play by simply getting out a couple of their favorite kitty toys or cat nip. Some cats enjoy rough housing with people, but be sure you never hurt the animal while playing. Also, it may be a good idea to wear a long sleeve sweat shirt to protect your arms if the cat enjoys rough housing.

Twinkle Toes

There’s also another peculiar cat body behavior that some cats exhibit when looking to play. Some cats will open their eyes wide with an arched back while standing sideways, then walking sideways while looking at you, or hopping around. Either this is a terrified cat ready to attack, or it really wants to play. If the cat is truely terrified it will likely be growling and hissing too. It’s not very common for a cat to just attack people randomly unless they are threatend or feel in danger.
After you are absolutely certain that the cat is not in attack mode or threatened, see if it wants to play by bringing out cat toys. Alternatively, the cat may be ready to play hide and seek where you hide behind a nearby wall or door quietly quietly. We all know cats are curious and just can’t stand wondering if you are still there or if you’ve disappeared. When they come over you can surprise the cat. It will often run away at full speed and return for more when in this ‘Twinkle Toes’ mood.

Not all cat’s exhibit this twinkle toes behavior, but just make certain your cat wants to play before approaching it.


Kneeding is another cat body language that’s commonly observed. Often cats, especially when purring, will walk on you and start kneeding you with their paws. It’s often like they are kneeding bread dough, except you are the bread dough. It’s generally a sign of love, sweetness and contentment by your cat, but sometimes if their claws are sharp it can hurt or damage your clothing.

Generally it appears to be way your cat is telling you they love you.

Rubbing Against Your Legs

Rubbing against your legs can often mean the cat is marking you as their territory, or that it loves you and wants attention. This cat body language can also mean the animal wants or needs something from you. A common want your cat may be requesting is food or a treat.

When a cat rubs against your legs it’s often while you are walking so please be extra careful not to accidentally step on or kick the kitty.

Another similar cat body language you may see that’s similar to this is when they rub their cheeks against you. The cheeks have scent glands in them that help them to attempt to mark you as their property.


Love bites, and agressive biting are two very opposite types of cat body language that need to be correctly understood.

When a cat bits to inflict harm or damage agressively something is terribly wrong causing the cat to defend it’s self in most instances. It’s very uncommon for cats to act agressively unless they are in danger or being abused or harmed by someone. Please, please, please treat your cat kindly as it would be highly distressed to act this way under most situations.

The opposite of agressive behavior is love bites. Many cats when you are petting them or showing them affection will give you love bites. These harmless nibbles are very low strength bites showing you they love you. Love bites are not meant to harm, or inflict pain or damage. Rather they are a seemingly unusual form of cat body language that some kitties use to say they love you.

Pawing At You

Most cats deeply cherish you, and relish in your affection. Some cats will paw at you if you start taking your hand away from petting you. They aren’t trying to hurt you, but rather just want you to keep petting them.

Simply pet the cat some more, then once you finally decide to take your hand away do it quickly to avoid getting pawed at! It’s an act of them loving you and your attention when they paw at you.


Hopefully these expressions of body language will help you to better know your cat and what they are trying to communicate to you.

Thank you for reading this article, please take a look at another one now.

-Randy / Animal Weekly