Feline communication for beginners

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Over time, your domesticated became more or less expert in communication with you : you mutually learnt to decode your verbal and nonverbal language, and to interpret several signals given simultaneously.
feline communication
We address the not domesticated humans, as well as the future domesticated ones. Imagine that you meet a cat on the street, or at somebody’s. This cat looks at you, or not. He emits sounds, or not. He’s standing in some way.

How to understand a cat (beginner level) ?

Listen : if the cat growls or hisses, it’s better not to approach him !

Look : look at the eyes, at the position of the ears, and at the tail of the cat : an expert in feline communication will have very subtle information by combining this three information, but a beginner can already understand roughly the basic message.

angry cat

By Hannibal Poenaru from near Paris, France (flickr.com) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


  • half-closed eyelids : comfort
  • wide opened eyelids and dilated pupils : aggressiveness or fear
  • fixed look : warning !


  • raised forwards: interest
  • folded back : threat or been afraid (drop ears)
  • folded aside, like a plane : anger


  • non hérissée, verticale, rectiligne (extrémité recourbée ou non) : accueil amical, contentement
  • not bristly, vertical, rectilinear (hooked extremity or not) : friendly welcome, satisfaction
  • not bristly, horizontal : interest, curiosity, neutral
  • bristly, vertical, rectilinear : aggressiveness
  • bristly, low, rectilinear : fear
  • pulled down against paws or under the belly : concern, fear
  • movement of the extremity : small annoyance
  • fast movement : excitement
  • jerky movement : big annoyance

Of course, feline communication is much more elaborated : our posture, our mimes, our moving, all these other elements also give information to humans who can understand them. We repeat it, what we presented to you here represents the BASICS of feline communication for novice human. We voluntarily left aside several visual and acoustic signals which the majority of the domesticated know how to recognize.
feline communication
Between us, between cats, we communicate also a lot by chemical messages : deposits of urine or poop, secretions of our glands put down in the environment, or still secretions and smells which spread directly from us. However, this form of language remains inaccessible to humans : they don’t have the sense of smell developped enough, and their vomero-nasal organ is vestigial for a very long time. In other words, they are underequipped !

15 thoughts on “Feline communication for beginners

  1. easyweimaraner

    guess what? once the mama read a book about a guy who lived with tigers… and he described the body language with using the same signs… now it is finally proven that you are super closely related..

  2. LP

    Learning how to speak cat is a life long process ;p Our humans are fairly good at it but they still have a lot to learn!

    the critters in the cottage xo

  3. Margie

    That is some mighty good advice. Cats are fun to study and see if you can figure out what they are thinking. Those are some good ways to tell what is going on. Love the pictures of you two cats. Have a great day.

  4. mommakatandherbearcat

    We love that first picture of the two of you – where you’re looking in opposite directions. My blog came out of my curiosity of what Bear’s thinking. It’s funny for me to think about what he would say if he could talk. You know there’s got to be a lot going on in his brain!

  5. da tabbies o trout towne

    pixie N zorro….N due knot forgetz de sekrit speech catz have onlee… WITH CATZ !! noe one will EVER figure thiz out !! 🙂 ♥♥

    ***** and ********* sew that ********* !! 🙂

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