Cats have long been maligned as loners. But while they may not socialise with their own kind the way dogs or humans do, research into cat communication shows they’ve developed various ways of talking to humans, which suggests they crave our company as much as we do theirs.
Here are a few body language cues to look out for, and what they suggest your kitty is trying to tell you.
Tail up = “Hello friend”
If your cat has its tail relaxed then lifts it in the air as it approaches you, it’s saying “Hi human, I’m glad to see you”.
Half-open eyes = A smile
Eyes that are only partially open mean your cat is relaxed and happy. This is the cat version of a smile. You can smile back by half-closing your eyes. On the flipside, if your cat’s eyes are wide open with dilated pupils, it’s either anxious, attentive, or ready to play.
Slow blink = “I love you”
If your cat gives you a slow blink then looks away, it’s telling you how much it’s loving life and enjoying your company. You can say ‘I love you’ back by doing a heavy-lidded slow blink while slowly turning your head.
Exposed belly = “I trust you”
If your cat flops onto its back and shows its belly, it’s not asking for a belly rub. By exposing its vulnerable tummy it’s telling you it feels completely safe in your company. Rather than touching its fluffy belly, give your cat a gentle scratch on the head.
Rubbing against things = “This is mine”
It might feel like affection or a request for attention, but cats have scent glands in their chins, noses and under their eyes. When you come home, you’re covered in strange smells, so your cat is making you smell good again.
Illustrations: Lili Chin