6 Cat Facial Expressions and What They Mean

6 Cat Facial Expressions and What They Mean

Last update: 23 May, 2018

Most people think cats are mysterious and non-expressive animals. Other pets such as canines, show feelings by wagging their tail and body language. Felines on the other hand, are a bit harder to understand. So pay attention to their facial expressions and gestures to help get a further understanding about them. Would you like to know what their body language means? In this article you can learn about cat facial expressions. 

Why is it important to understand a cat’s facial expressions?

cat facial expressions

The answer is simple, it’s how they communicate. Since they can’t talk, cats use body language and facial expressions to tell others how they feel. Although cats may seem totally inexpressive, their gestures can tell you many things. However, observing their face isn’t enough to fully understand them, so looking at their pupils, ears, and whiskers are equally important.

The most common cat facial expressions

Without further ado, below you can learn how to observe cats, and understand their feelings and moods.

1. A relaxed cat

It’s easy to tell when a cat is relaxed. He will rest his head on his front legs or on top of  another surface. Normally, his eyes will be half way closed, with enlarged and relaxed pupils. His ears and whiskers will be positioned normally and he might purr quietly.

2. An alert cat

This facial expression is similar to how a cat looks when he is interested in something. His head will slowly move to the side and his pupils will be practically normal, but his eyes will be wide open. His whiskers will move slightly backward while and he might meow.

3. A tense cat

When a cat is tense, its head seems to shrivel his head into his body.  The cat’s head will remain still, his eyes will be wide-open with the pupils slightly dilated, and they will seem to be joining together due to the tension.

4. A stressed cat

When cats are stressed out– something usual due to a change in routine — they lower their heads and their pupils will enlarged to their maximum size. Stressed cats may become aggressive, and might even attack other cats or pets. Normally they don’t purr and they remain silent or hiss.

5. A frightened cat

Cats get frightened by many things, so most likely you have already seen this expression on your cat’s face. His eyes will be wide open with completely dilated pupils. His ears will be pointing down and he’ll look for your lap or another place to hide.

6. A threatened cat

Cats believe that “there is no better defense than a good attack.” Therefore, a threaten feline will retaliate aggressively. He will have an unfriendly expression on his face, his ears will  be pointing outward and his eyes will be wide open with dilated pupils. So be careful because he will try attacking you.

cat eyes

Reading your cat’s facial expressions will improve your  bond with him. You’ll be able to avoid him from getting disturbed or frightened. Observing your cat’s body language is important to understand the messages he is trying to get across. By doing so the both of you will have a better living environment.

Its worthless trying to get your cat to understand human language and to express themselves as humans do, because they have their way to communicate. Take your time observing your cat so you can understand him better and know his reactions in different situations. It’s worth investing your time on your cat and it will be much easier to do so by following these tips.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.