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Woman holding orange kitten touching its nose

If you’re a cat owner, or more appropriately if you are in service to a feline friend, then you know cats can be finicky. The reality however is that cats ‘talk’ all the time using a variety of signals - body postures, facial expressions, and vocalizations - to convey their message and avoid unwelcome confrontations. At Bellamy-Lawrence Animal Hospital in Toronto, we conveniently provide an extensive range of feline services all under one roof to make sure your pet is and remains healthy. Our cat clinic in Toronto will please even the most demanding cats. So if you ‘own’ a cat, be prepared to learn feline.

What to Watch For and What It Means Understanding a cat is simply a matter of paying attention, watching the cat’s body language and responding accordingly. Cats use a variety of ways to communicate their feelings, needs and desires. A cat’s tail is a great way to decipher how a cat is feeling:

  • Tail up – is a happy, cheerful cat who is most likely approachable.

  • Tail down – may indicate a cat who is scared or threatened.

  • Tail moving rapidly back and forth – is a good indicator that a cat is agitated and should be left alone.

  • Tail moving slowly back and forth – means a cat is trying to decipher the situation, and makes up its mind about how it feels.

  • Halloween-cat tail – is an unequivocal sign that your cat is feeling threatened, a cat in this stance is not in a good mood and is trying to appear larger and scarier than he is.

Pay attention to the position of your cat’s ears:

  • Ears forward – is likely feeling content or even playful.

  • Ears straight up – a cat is alert.

  • Ears turned back – irritated or over stimulated, so it’s probably a good idea to leave him alone.

  • Ears turned sideways – is feeling nervous or anxious about something. Use caution around a cat whose ears are in this position.

  • Ears back and flat against head – is scared and feeling defensive, and may also indicate an angry or aggressive cat.

Cat’s eyes can also offer clues:

  • Dilated pupils – is surprised, scared or stimulated

  • Constricted pupils – might mean your cat is tense or possibly feeling aggressive.

  • Stare – a stare down is likely a challenge from your cat. That’s why in social settings, a cat usually gravitates toward the one person in the room who is trying to ignore it.

  • Slow Blinking – indicates your cat feels safe, comfortable and trusts you. Likewise, by blinking slowly at your cat, you are communicating that you are aware of its presence and pose no threat.

  • Half Closed – indicate a relaxed and trusting kitty.

Cats may also adapt their meows to manipulate people in order to get their needs met, and is used to express greetings, approval, demands for food, and more:

  • Purring – usually signals contentment, and may also be a comfort-seeking behavior when the cat is recovering from illness.

  • High-pitched gurgling or chatting – indicates friendliness.

  • Growling, hissing, or spitting – emphatic warnings to stay away until the cat has calmed.

  • Caterwauling – caterwauling is a very loud, guttural sound that cats (especially males that have not been neutered) make when threatened by other cats. This sound is also common in deaf cats.

If You Notice Out Of the Ordinary Behaviour, Visit Our Animal Clinic in Toronto Often a cat will use several forms of body language to display his feelings, your job as ‘owner’ is to take time to understand. If your cat is telling you something but you don’t understand, a visit to Bellamy-Lawrence Animal Hospital in Toronto is in order. To find out more about the services we offer, contact us at 416-289-2524 today. We always welcome walk-in appointments and new pets. Servicing Scarborough, Toronto, Markham, Ajax-Pickering and North York.


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