Wouldn't you love to know what your cat is thinking? I've sat and watched my cats for hours, but you never know just what is going on behind those big beautiful eyes. We may not ever truly know, but we can make some pretty good assumptions about what cats are thinking based on their behavioural signs and events that normally follow.
Look into your cat's eyes and you can tell a lot about his state of mind. Although a fixed gaze and rigid body posture might mean hostility, the same look might be soliciting petting or some other form of attention in a relaxed, purring cat.
A fairly definite eye sign relates to pupil size. If your cat's pupils are constricted and slit-like, his mood is probably ambient, bordering on vegetative. However, if your cat's pupils become fully dilated in daylight, appearing as big black circles, he could be ready to fight/be predatory or run away, even be in pain.
Increased pupil size is not intended to intimidate other cats or people but rather to allow more light into the eyes, this is why cats' pupils are always large at night.
A cat's ears can adopt several different positions and for several different reasons:
- Ears erect and forward – alert, with attention focused ahead
- Ears swivelled sideways– on the offensive
- Ears pressed backward onto the head– extreme defence (ears folded back to protect them from harm)
- One ear forward and one back – ambivalence/unsure
- Ears rotating like radar dishes – listening carefully in an attempt to find the source of the sound.
Your cat normally keeps his mouth closed which tells us very little. When the mouth is open, however, you can sometimes learn about your cat's motivation:
- The gape. Your cat gets a far-away look, allows the bottom jaw to drop, and looks as if he's having some kind of epiphany. What he's actually doing is savouring certain pheromonal odours on the breeze.
- Open mouth with lips retracted. Your cat stares, bears his teeth and hisses. This indicates intimidation and aggression.
- Yawning indicates stress, ambivalence, or sometimes preparedness for action.
- Tail position and movement offers insight into your cat's psyche.
- Tail tucked – fearful, defensive
- Tail held at half-mast and moving slowly from side to side – indicates mild interest
- Tail vertical or straight up – indicates anticipation and/or greeting
- Tail vertical but curved to one side – indicates playfulness
- Tail held low with tip twitching – indicates a stalking, predatory stance
- Tail frantically switching in wide arcs – indicates heightened affect/aggression
- Tail puffed up– indicates fear and aggression
Other Behavioral Indications
Bunting. Your cat may rub or push his face against objects with his forehead, cheeks or chin. What your cat is doing is marking them with subtle biological scents. Some say that a cat's rubbing with the forehead or cheeks indicates affection, but rubbing with the chin is usually reserved for territorial marking.
Furniture scratching. Contrary to popular belief, furniture scratching is not the cat's way of sharpening his claws but is a form of visual and scent marking. Your cat's paws are equipped with scent glands to facilitate this function. Territorial concerns will increase furniture scratching/marking and should be addressed if furniture scratching becomes a problem.
Marking objects with urine or faeces. This is an even more distasteful form of marking behaviour to most cat owners. The function is similar to furniture marking signifying an olfactory warning.
Fun Fact! Did you know that some cats will purr to get cuddles? They learn from an early age that purring is a good way to get their owners' attention, who are likely to oblige and make more of a fuss of their clever cat.
Cats- forever mysterious and wonderful creatures. Hopefully these few points have made it easier to decipher your cats’ general emotions. At least we know one thing for sure- you’re loved if you get dead mice in your house!
Tags: Pet Health, Kitten, Cat, Vet, Pet care, Veterinary Medicine, Pet and Vet, Feline