Are you doing things that stress out your cat? Unfortunately, a cat's comfort with being handled is something that often gets ignored. Sometimes, people think it's funny to make cats uncomfortable, but it's stressful for cats. This can harm your relationship with your cat and also your cat's trust in people. Being sensitive to a Cat's body language is something that all of us can do a better job of being aware of. Cats communicate their comfort, pleasure, and displeasure through their body language and it's up to us to pay attention to it!
Signs your cat is happy
Your cat kneading you or nearby furniture as you pet them is a positive sign that your cat feels relaxed and happy. Cats communicate a lot about how they are feeling with their ears. When your cat's ears are erect and facing forward they are showing "Neutral ears". This is a good sign that your cat is relaxed and enjoying what you are doing. Another sign your cat is happy is when you see them give a slow blink. A scientific study has shown that this facial expression is the cat version of how our eyes tend to narrow when we smile. Similarly, chirping noises are also a good indication that your cat is happy. Yet, the meaning behind a cat purring can be trickier to understand. Although it is usually assumed to mean that a cat is happy and content, it can also be a sign that a cat is stressed or in pain, and trying to self soothe.
Video of the Day
Signs your cat is unhappy
Cat's might not be able to talk, but they are very good at communicating things that upset them. To communicate displeasure or anxiety, cats often vocalize: meowing, hissing, yowl, growling or spitting when they are unhappy or stressed about something that is happening to or around them. When cats are this way, they will often stiffen and flatten their body with their feet underneath them. Other cats respond to stress or discomfort by being skittish, dashing off to another part of the house, and even hiding. If you do something that your cat dislikes, they may seem withdrawn, and try to escape an unpleasant interaction by going behind furniture or trying to climb up high on top of a cat tree. Worried cats often have their eyes wide open and may also flatten their ears. When cats are extremely stressed and upset, they may even breathe through their mouth or pant — a sign of extreme emotional distress.
Unfortunately, many things people regularly are often unpleasant, scary, or stressful for our cats.
Things we do that cats don’t like
Cats generally enjoy a good game that involves the chance to stalk and pounce, which channels their predatory nature. Yet, it's important for them to have the ability to win while playing. Any kind of "good-natured" teasing and play (such as using a laser pointer) is something that can also leave a cat stressed, anxious, and frustrated because they keep chasing the laser dot but also aren't able to win.
Cats are keen observers of their environments. Sudden fast or erratic movements can be alarming for cats. This can lead to cats trying to keep their distance from people, especially from visitors who they might not know well. This can lead to cats going into hiding when you have guests over.
You might enjoy turning up the music volume and having a dance party in the living room, but loud music and sounds can be startling and upsetting for our cats. Cats have very sensitive hearing, so in addition to being relatively easy to startle, loud noises can be uncomfortable for them.
Humans often show affection physically by hugging. Although you might like a big hug, your cat likely doesn't! For most cats, being picked up and squeezed is stressful and upsetting to them. That's the opposite reaction from them than what you're looking for.
Being left alone
Although cats have a reputation for being low-maintenance and solitary pets, they are very bonded to their people. Being left alone for too long, or too often can be confusing and stressful for cats. If your cat is lonely, you may start seeing an increase in stress-related behaviors including increased vocalizations, scratching your furniture, and/or elimination outside of the litterbox.
A big mistake that people make is to pet cats too long or too hard. Cats are not "smaller dogs" and have specific ways that they like to be petted. Most cats don't enjoy being petted all the way down their bodies. Instead, most cats prefer gentle petting and to be pet on their head and neck. If your cat is leaning into you chances are they are enjoying being pet. When your cat is in discomfort, they could also be giving you body language in response, such as pulling away from you.
If you see your cat lying on their side with their belly exposed, that doesn't mean it's an invitation to pet their belly. Cats may feel threatened by someone trying to pet their tummy and overstimulated by the sensation. Does your cat kick and paw at you when you scratch their tummy? It's not that you've got the right spot. Your cat is clearly communicating with you that this isn't something they enjoy, and he would like you to stop!
You might think of your cat as your baby, but cats don't enjoy being cradled upside down on their backs like a baby. This position feels restricting and makes many cats feel vulnerable and uncomfortable. You may notice your cat pinning their ears or struggling to get out of your arms which is a good indication they aren't comfortable being held this way.
Unfortunately, a lot of things that come naturally to people like wanting to grab, hug, stroke, and squeeze a soft fuzzy animal are not enjoyable for our cats. When engaging with your cat, it's important to pay attention to their body language. Cats are good at communicating likes and dislikes with their body. Focusing on your cat's body language can help you to have more positive interactions with your cat and avoid putting them in uncomfortable situations.