Cats cry when they are sad

Understand cat behavior and language

Regardless of whether you are a new cat owner or already have experience with four-legged friends: There will always be a time when you would like to know what your cat is thinking in order to better understand its behavior.

Sometimes your cat's behavior may change and you wonder what that could mean. Or maybe you want to know how to tell if a cat is happy.

There are plenty of clues that can tell you what your cat is thinking and what mood it is in right now. Most of the time, you will be able to tell your cat's state of mind from its behavior, body language, facial expression, and sounds and tail movements. Because cats have a wide range of emotions. Just like us humans, they can be pleased, sad, fearful, relieved and even frustrated and show this with their behavior.

Interpret cat behavior

If you want to understand cat behavior, our guide will explain everything you need to know about cat language and behavior:

Your cat should be as relaxed and satisfied as possible for most of the day and feel comfortable in its familiar surroundings - this is an important part of cat language. Ideally, she should look like she's watching the world go round with satisfaction.

Signs of a relaxed cat

  • Your cat lies stretched out and relaxed on the floor, curls up or makes itself comfortable with folded paws on its front.
  • Her eyes are half closed or she is blinking.
  • Your ears are relaxed and set high, with the auricles pointing forward. Her ears may move back and forth as she listens to what's going on around her.
  • Her whiskers are sideways and away from her face and it almost looks like she's smiling.
  • Her body is completely calm and relaxed, with no tension that could indicate that she might jump up at any moment.

Cats are predators and hunters by nature - they instinctively pursue and hunt their prey and are 100% able to focus on their target. When your cat focuses on a small, moving object or something new around him, you will notice that his body language changes too: he is getting ready to respond appropriately to the new situation.

Signs of a focused cat

  • Your eyes are open and the pupils are narrow.
  • Their ears and whiskers are directed forward and their body is turned towards the object on which their attention is focused.
  • Your cat's body may lean low above the ground as it chases its prey, with its hind legs pulled under its belly.
  • Your cat will keep its tail lowered straight down. The end of her tail, as well as her entire rump, may start twitching as she prepares to jump.
  • If you are the object of attention, because your cat may be asking for food or petting, it is possible that she will snuggle up to you with her tail held high.

A satisfied cat is easy to spot because its body language is also easy to interpret. In the best-case scenario, your cat will be happy most of the time - and the signs will look familiar to you:

Symptoms of a lucky cat

  • Your cat sits relaxed and upright; your ears are straight and relaxed, the auricles point forward. But it is also possible that she gently moves her ears back and forth when she hears familiar noises, such as the voices of family members.
  • When lying down, she either does it with her paws folded under her body, or she lies stretched out on her side or on her back. In doing so, she stretches her limbs - a clear sign that she is very satisfied!
  • Sometimes cats sleep with their eyes closed or half-open. Or their eyelids are heavy - then it almost looks like they're getting lost in their daydreams. If your cat is blinking very slowly, do the same to show that you are relaxed too - by mimicking you can develop a strong bond with your cat.
  • The whiskers are relaxed and her tail is very calm - when she stands, the tail is raised high in greeting and bent in the shape of a hook at the end.
  • When you stroke your cat, it closes its eyes contentedly and begins to purr gently.

Cats can be very sensitive, especially when something changes in their environment. As a result, some cats may take longer to adjust to the new situation after unexpected changes. Understanding the cat's behavior and recognizing the signs of anxiety will be a better way of helping your cat relax more quickly. The better you can interpret the cat's behavior, the better you can give your cat attention and comfort and stroke its fur soothingly when it does not come to rest. Give your cat two to three days to familiarize itself with the new situation, and then deal with it as normal afterwards.

Signs of a restless cat

  • Your cat's eyes are wide open and not blinking. The pupils are large and oval or circular in shape.
  • Your ears are no longer relaxed with the auricles facing forward, but instead move back and forth independently of one another to absorb information. If she is very scared, she may even lay it flat against her head.
  • Her head is tilted downward and her whiskers are laid out to make her face look small and harmless - although she can point them forward when on alert.
  • If the fear increases, your cat may crouch. It is also possible that she humps in preparation for being able to run away quickly.
  • The posture of the tail is very important - either your tail is very calm or the tip of the tail moves slowly back and forth. This is also a sign of fear.

The behavior of fearful cats may be very subtle, but if your cat is afraid, you should recognize this immediately: because if something is frightening (e.g. a loud noise), it is no longer enough to stroke its fur soothingly . Even a treat may not help anymore. Your body language tells you that she is scared and she won't calm down until she feels safe again. Don't walk up to her too quickly to calm her down. Otherwise, she may perceive you as another threat. Instead, remove anything that might have made her anxious and wait for her to calm down.

Symptoms of an anxious cat

  • Your cat's ears are folded away and lie flat against the head. Her head is tilted down and her gaze is up.
  • She runs away. If that is not possible, she will stand still or crouch.
  • Their eyes are wide open, their pupils are dilated, and their whiskers are either flat or bristled.
  • It is possible that she hisses at a threatening object and spits at it. Or she starts to growl, shows her claws and lashes out paws.
  • Some cats stretch their front legs to make themselves tall. Or they hunch their backs and raise their fur to appear taller.
  • Her tail is either thrown under her body or it whips back and forth.

If your cat does this frequently, you should speak to the veterinarian about a referral to an animal psychologist.

It is possible that your cat may experience frustration due to a certain short-term event such as: B. because she cannot get to her favorite toy. But she can also develop long-term frustration due to a lack of stimulation and be depressed, for example because she cannot go hunting. Long-term frustration in cats is often misinterpreted. So, if you think your cat is suffering from it, this should be discussed with the veterinarian. Then you can restore your cat to a happier life.

Symptoms of a Frustrated Cat

  • A frustrated cat will usually focus on the object that is causing that frustration and will do whatever it takes to get what it wants!
  • All of your senses are focused on the target object - the eyes are wide open, the pupils are dilated, the ears are pointed forward, and the whiskers are fanned out wide.
  • She may be impatient when she doesn't get what she wants.
  • Cats cannot be frustrated in the long run. If they don't get what they want, they either give up or in some cases develop long-term frustration or, depending on the cause, even depression.
  • Cats with depression are often sluggish, refuse to feed, and do not want to play or interact with others.

If your cat is showing angry behavior, you need to be very careful. Never provoke an angry cat - don't stare, yell at it, or move too quickly. You should also not touch her or try to calm her down as this may see her as a threat and punch at you. Instead, withdraw slowly, remove threatening objects if possible, and give your cat the space and time it needs to calm down.

If your cat is showing significant signs of irritation on a regular basis, seek advice from your veterinarian or an animal psychologist to determine what is causing your cat's negative body language.

Symptoms of an angry cat

  • An angry cat will freeze and either hold its tail stiff and straight, or put it around or under its body.
  • It behaves very differently than usual - either it is mute or it hisses, spits or growls.
  • She will want to "build herself up" and look threatening by raising her fur, stretching her front legs or crouching threateningly.
  • Her ears are tense and lie flat on her head, her whiskers stick out from the side of her face.
  • Your eyes are focused and your gaze is strained. The pupils are narrow; however, some cats also have round pupils and do not blink.

When an angry, frightened, or frustrated cat can be confident that the threat it felt is over, it will in all likelihood appear relieved. As important as identifying signs of anger or fear is recognizing relief in cats. This is how you can help your cat to behave normally and relaxed again.

Symptoms of a relieved cat

  • A cat's whole body can express relief - some cats even stretch and stretch their whole bodies to relieve tension!
  • Eyes, ears, head, body and tail are visibly relaxed.
  • Her whiskers are again loosely to one side and her head is tilted.
  • Some cats start to yawn, turn away and keep their eyes only half open, while others start cleaning themselves.

If you have some experience of how your cat reacts to change and you can correctly interpret the signs of satisfaction, you can help her stay physically and mentally healthy. For more information on how to understand cat behavior, please contact our team of experts.