Cat (body) language and behaviour Infographic (modified)

This is a cat body language Infographic from It has value. It’s a quick check or guide on how domestic cats communicate with us through their body language and behaviours. It may help one or two people. It is obviously useful to understand what your cat is trying to tell you, or what they inadvertently tell you, through their behaviour.

Cat body language and behavior infographic
Please click on the image to see it a little larger – you will stay on this page. Cat body language and behavior infographic. Source: and MikeB.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Humans are dependent upon both vocalisations and feline body language/behaviour to understand them. The same, incidentally, goes for the cat when understanding humans. Into the mix you can add routines and rhythms. This is because certain behaviours both from human and cat occur during specific times and those times occur in a rhythmical or routine way.

I felt that I had to modify the Infographic slightly. There are three instances. The slow blink is said by many to be a sign that your cat loves you. I have decided that this is a slight exaggeration. It is more about a cat signalling to their human caregiver that they are friendly and that they have friendly intentions towards them.

RELATED: Cat slow blink is a signal of friendly intentions.

And, the sideways stance of a cat with flattened ears and bristled fur is actually a defensive measure to signal to a predator that they are bigger than they actually are. The intention is to deter the predator from attacking. The cat might be frightened. They might even be terrified. However, is more likely to occur when they simply want to be defensive and are concerned or anxious. The word “terrified” is I think exaggeration in some instances. In fact, you’ll see kittens play like this. It’s a kind of practice run for when they are adult. Sometimes they play with their shadow and pretend that their shadow is a predator. Or when they play with other kittens, they take on a sideways stance and enlarge their body.

RELATED: Why do cats do the crab walk?

Crab walk cat
Crab walk cat. I added the yellow lines to highlight the flattened ears, the heightened arched and fluffed tail. The flattened ears protects them the rest make her look larger.

RELATED: 13 cat tail postures and movements and what they mean

The second individual Infographic image which is described as “friendly” is correct and it is often described as the “tail-up” position. When the tail is erect like this it signals to the receiving cat that they have friendly intentions and are not hostile. And they make the same signal to the human caregiver. The “attentive” Infographic focuses on the ears which are erect and pointing forwards.

RELATED: Adult domestic cat belly-up posture is a cat hug

The belly-up position is one which demonstrates trust but does not normally invite a belly rub. Some cats will invite a belly rub when they present their belly to their owner because they are particularly close to their owner. But often it is simply a sign of trust. If you do rub your cat’s belly, you know that it should be done with great respect as this is a vulnerable part of their body. If you dive in too hard, they will clamp onto your hand with all four paws with their teeth embedded into your hand 😁. You will be an imprisoned victim and the only way to remove your hand is to distract your cat.

RELATED: Cat ear positions

Reason why cats flatten their ears when threatened
Reason why cats flatten their ears when threatened. Image: MikeB

When the ears are flattened as in the “anxious” Infographic a cat is preparing for a potential fight. The ears are being laid flat to protect them. When you see feral cats, you often see that their ears have been damaged through fighting (see above). They are vulnerable to being injured because they project out of the head. When cats fight, they bite each other around the head and the ear is a natural object to attack. Abscesses often occur on the head through cat fights. The “frightened” and “threatened” Infographic both have flat ears for the same reason.

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