Animal Behavior & Training

Feline Body Language

Although cats can live a quite happy, solitary existence, they can often just as happily live in groups or colonies. Because, however, they have been designed to be a solitary top of the food chain predator, they can be remarkably self-sufficient. As such, their body language is less well-developed than the dog (a highly social species) as they do not have such a pressing need to communicate. Nevertheless, there are certainly ways of telling whether your cat is feeling brave or frightened, aggressive or friendly, hostile or irritated. For example, the cats on the left are in a state of high alert, having just spied a dog in the front garden. See also Let's Be Friends.

Have a look at the pictures below and see how well you understand your feline friend (answers bottom of page)...

1. This cat is saying:

a) I'm relaxed, but alert
b) I feel threatened
c) I'm angry

2. This cat is saying:

a) I'm on the offensive
b) I'm alert
c) I'm scared

3. This cat is saying:

a) I'm aggressive and confident
b) I'm aggressive, but fearful
c) I'm happy

4. This cat is saying:

a) I'm a bit scared
b) I'm ready to fight
c) I'm happy and alert

5. This cat is saying:

a) I'm very relaxed
b) I'm on the defensive
c) I'm confident and feeling aggressive

6. This cat is saying:

a) I'd rather withdraw from this
b) I want to attack
c) I'm really scared

7. This cat is saying:

a) I'm fearful and submissive
b) I want to go to sleep
c) I'm happy

8. This cat is saying:

a) I'm sad
b) I'm confident
c) I'm not ready to attack, please go away

9. This cat is saying:

a) I'm scared and submissive
b) I'm scared but will be aggressive if I have to
c) I'm confident and aggressive


1) a
2) b
3) b
4) a
5) c
6) a
7) a
8) c
9) b

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