Cat Facial Expressions and their Meanings. A Useful Guide

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Cats, like humans, have facial expressions. If you pay close attention, you will observe these expressions as well as interpret them. You can be able to tell when your cat relaxed, angry, happy or stimulated through her face. As we explore cat speak, we are going to discuss cat facial expressions and their meanings.


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6 Things that cats try to tell us using their facial expressions?

  1. Relaxed
  2. Alert
  3. Tense
  4. Stressed
  5. Affection seeling
  6. Angry/aggressive


Well, cats use their facial expressions to show their moods. You will notice a shift in her face whenever there is a change in the environment. It is therefore important that you understand what each of these expressions means. This way, you will be able to create a strong bond with your cat as you can always pick a change in her mood.

So what are some of these cat facial expressions and their meanings? Let us quickly outline these expressions below. Note that you must consider the context in which your cat makes these facial expressions as well as another body language.


Cat Facial Expressions and their Meanings

Relaxed cat

A relaxed cat will have a normal face and body posture. Observe her entire face and body posture to determine whether she is relaxed. For instance, she will have her ears forward-facing, which means she is engaged.

She might blink at you to display her trust for you, and everyone in the room. When a cat is relaxed, it also means she is receptive. This is the best time to teach her new tricks or generally pet her. She will also have calm eyes and she might also purr in contentment.

Her whiskers will be in a normal position.


Alert cat

Cats have a strong sense of hearing, which means she can pick a sound from afar. Other than that, cats are also natural hunters. It makes them keen and alert upon hearing some movement or noise. Her eyes become dilated, and her ears straight up.

She will focus on the object or element causing alertness. Well, as we all know, the wild cat family is known to stalk and focus on their prey until they manage to pounce on them. Your cat will, therefore, concentrate on the thing or person of interest.

Your kitty will also have wise open eyes, with her pupils enlarged. She is both excited and alert. A cat might also shift her head to the right and turn her whiskers backward. In addition, she might vocalize based on the situation she is in. For instance, some cats chatter and produce a chirping sound when she spots a prey.


Tense cat

As we have discussed above, cats are quite sensitive to sounds as well as scents. This is a survival instinct from their wild ancestors. As a result, your cat will always be on high alert. She will want to hide when there is tension in the environment.

One of the most notable facial expression, when a cat is tensed, is her ears. She will have pricked ears, while one ear might face sideways. Also, she will have wide-open eyes with dilated pupils. In most cases, if your cat is worried that something might harm her, she will remain quiet and crouch down as if she is hiding.

Through her body posture, you will be able to tell if she is tensed. Do not ignore your cat when she is in this position.


Stressed cat

Cats are both expressive and sociable. However, they are also pretty much prone to stress, especially when exposed to certain situations. A simple change in your cat’s routine is good enough reason for stress. For instance, if you do not establish and stick to a schedule, chances are that you are going to have trouble keeping her calm.

In addition to certain behaviors such as litter box avoidance, your cat will also show it in her face. A stressed cat might carry her head hanging low. He pupils will be constricted and she may react aggressively to certain situations.

Observe her eyes and ears to tell if she is doing well emotionally. Note that it is pretty easy to get your cat stressed. Avoid changing her lifestyle in any way and work on consistency. A stressed cat might be confused with an aggressive cat.


Affection seeking cat facial expressions

Cats are uniquely ignorant for a pet. Unlike a dog who is always up for a petting session, cats are quite the opposite. Your cat will only engage with you when she wants and feels like. Do not get me wrong because this does not mean that a cat does not need your attention and affection.

Even though your cat might ignore you the entire day, she may seek your attention. And you will be able to spot when she does through her facial expressions. As a relaxed cat would do, your cat might slowly blink her eyes at you. It is normally referred to as a cat kiss. It is your cat’s way of bribing you to pet or plays with her.

You can acknowledge her by responding to her with a kiss as well. Slowly blink at her to show that you also trust her. Also, she will have a relaxed ear and whisker position. She might also engage in head butting.


Cat Facial Expressions and their Meanings

An angry/aggressive cat

When your cat is feeling aggressive, you can actually be able to spot it in her face. Observe her facial expression and understand their meanings. For instance, she will have wide-open eyes and backward-facing ears. These are the common signs of aggression in cats.

If your cat is in a compromised situation whereby she is facing danger, she will get into a defensive position. She will position herself facing the element of threat. In addition, she will flatten her eyes on her head, which is a sure sign of aggression in cats.

You will also notice her wide-open eyes with constricted pupils. She is trying to analyze the entire situation before reacting. This means that you should probably leave your cat alone for her to settle down. Never engage in play when your cat is feeling aggressive.

Aggression in cats might also be accompanied by hissing or growling. When she does so, it means that she is about to attack the aggressor.


Understanding cat speak through body language


As we said above, there is more than one way to tell the meanings of certain cat facial expressions. It all depends on the context and also the personality of your cat. In addition, you must observe other forms of cat speak through body language and vocalizations. Below, we will briefly highlight other cat body language as well as their meanings:


Cat body posture

Even as we emphasize on how expressive cats are, she cannot be able to completely communicate with you. It will be up to you to study cat speak as well as cat facial expressions. Well, your cat will adjust her body position based on her mood.

When she feels threatened, it is only normal for your cat to react in a defensive manner. She will not expose her body parts as a relaxed cat would. For instance, she might curl into a small ball, trying to protect herself. In the case where your cat wants to retaliate, she will also form a defensive body posture.

This might include trying to make herself look bigger. She will also have her fur standing off her body and a Halloween cat tail. She might also hiss or growl in aggression, with the hope to chase away her aggressor.


Cattail body language

In addition to studying your cat facial expressions and their meanings, your cat’s tail has a lot of information. If you pay close attention to your cat, you are going to pick when she is excited, or aggressive.

For instance, when your cat is happy and content, she will hold her tail up high. Some cats will go-ahead to form a question mark like shape at the top. Observe for other body language and facial expressions before you make you conclude she is happy.

On the other hand, an agitated cat might start thumping her tail on the ground. It might start slowly when your cat is showing an interest in something. If it progresses to rapid thumping, it could mean that your cat is getting angry. You should probably leave him alone or remove the element causing aggression issues.

A fearful cat will carry her tail and head down. Find out if there is something causing her fear and anxiety in the household.

Should you’re your cat form a Halloween cattail, it is time to leave her alone to settle down.


Cat Facial Expressions and their Meanings


Cat vocalization

When looking at cat facial expressions and their meanings, we cannot forget cat vocalization. After all, it is their primary method of communicating with their human parents. Well, what is your cat nagging you about every other day?

To understand cat vocalization, pay attention to context as well as the pitch and tone. Your cat will only use vocal communication when she needs something. For instance, when she wants some food in her bowl, she might follow you around meowing in a mid-pitch. She is trying to remind you that mealtime is already here and you need to act.

Should you ignore your cat’s quest for food, she is also going to react. This time, she might use the long-drawn-out meow to emphasize on her needs. She is trying to tell you that you need to feed her now! The same case goes for when your cat wants to go out or into another room in the house.

On the other hand, a relaxed cat will barely meow, unless she purrs when you are petting her. It is her way of showing her affection towards you.

We have already mentioned that an angry cat will hiss and growl at the aggressor, If you find your cat in this situation, leave her alone or remove her from the situation causing aggression.




The key to forming a great relationship with your cat is understanding them. The above tips should help you understand cat facial expressions and their meanings. You will finally be able to understand when she gets angry and when she is feeling happy.

It is important that you keep a specific schedule to avoid stressing your cat. Also, make your cat feel safe immediately you bring her home. It is going to help beat any tension or anxiety while living with you. I hope you get to understand your cat more through her body language and facial expressions.



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