How to Know What Your Cat is Feeling


While we wait for the invention of an animal translation device to finally guide us through what all those howls, purrs, meows, and ear-piercing shrieks may mean, we don’t need to lose hope just yet.

Understanding your kitty may seem like a near impossible endeavor but it honestly just takes a bit of love, a lot of patience, and a handy article such as this one to finally decode what we’re going to call “The Kitty Language”.

Cats often seem cool and unaffected by their surroundings. But just like pet dogs, and your fellow humans, they too have emotions.

To the untrained eye, these may not be evident. But with just a few tips, you’ll be able to identify those tell-tale signs of happiness, sadness, anger, fright, and loneliness.

A Happy Cat is Your Bubbly Best Friend

Cats may not be known for their jolly personas but this doesn’t mean that they can’t be just as happy as a puppy. They are just so much better at staying composed. Identifying a happy cat, however, is an easy task as you can observe this through their appearance, behavior, and with the sounds they make.

  • While a noisy cat may not necessarily be overjoyed, having a more vocal pet would often be a sign of happiness, especially with meows and purrs at a higher pitch.
  • Generally, purring is a good sign that your cat is content with everything you have to offer, especially when their purring is coupled with rubbing and keeping in close physical contact with you. Aside from staying close, happy kitties are a lot more affectionate and playful with their owners as well as other cats. Even when they sleep, they enjoy staying close by or with other pets. Be sure to check how they sleep since they show that they are relaxed and at ease with their environment by keeping their paws tucked in.
  • Finally, cat tails tell tales of emotion. A straight and upright tail, with a slight curl or bend at the end is another sign that your cat is, indeed, happy.           

A Sad Cat is in Mourning

Although they may be known to be grumpy little creatures, they aren’t naturally dissatisfied with their lives.

It’s important for every cat owner to know how to spot a sad or depressed cat and, most importantly, know how to turn that kitty frown upside down.

Just like people, cats have their own personalities. They act differently from other cats. They have different sleeping patterns and eating habits. A good pet owner should be able to distinguish between what is normal and abnormal for their kitty’s behavior. Cats.How has an entire section dedicated to cat behavior - check it out if you want to learn more about your furry friend.

  • One sign to sadness or depression is when there is a sudden change to their regular behavior. This is noticeable when playful cats start to lose interest in play and other activities.
  • They become sleepier and begin to lose their appetite.
  • Constant and excessive scratching may also be a sign.
  • A more evident change would be in their vocalizations, which would become lower in pitch and start to sound like mournful and sad yowls.

When you hear those sounds and see a cat with its ears held back, tail tucked in under its body and hair standing, you better find and eliminate the cause of its sadness.   

Fright or Flight for the Scaredy Cat

Identifying a scared cat may not seem easy as there is less consistency in their reactions and on the things that would scare them. Some may start to become more aggressive while others would turn to running away and hiding.

Like any other creature, fear brings about shaking, freezing, and sometimes a loss of bowel or bladder control in cats. While not all cats are afraid of the same things, common culprits to these reactions would be exposure to a new environment, strange people, and loud noises.

  • More physical signs of fright would be the appearance of flattened ears directed towards the side.
  • A more classic and obvious sign is when they curl their tails under their body, as a sign of submission.
  • This is often coupled with a low crouch, a lowered head, and, if you look more closely, dilated pupils.

The presence of a majority of these signs would help you pinpoint a scaredy cat.

The Angry Cat Is Ready To Attack

While a scaredy cat may become aggressive, they show different behaviors from what I call the scary cat – a cat in anger.

  • The simplest way to distinguish a mad feline is through an angry stance where their arched backs and standing fur make them seem bigger and more menacing.
  • Even more obvious is the hissing sound they make when approached.
  • While a tail that is moving around may seem like a good sign if you’re a dog owner, this should keep you alert if you have a cat. When their tail moves back and forth quickly, this would be a sign that they are annoyed.

When you see all these signs, avoid touching your kitty. If you do try to touch them in an effort to calm them  down, be prepared to be swatted away or, even worse, scratched. 

The Lonely Cat Begs for Attention

While cats may naturally be less social compared to dogs, they still need your love and care, and, sometimes, some companionship. Lonely kitties are sad kitties so they often exhibit the same behaviors and actions.

  • A defining characteristic for lonely cats would be their obvious want for your attention. This is done by being clingy and sticking with their owners wherever and whenever. You might find it cute that your kitty is consistently staying by your side but, while you might believe that this is due to their overflowing affection for their master, this may be a cry for help.
  • Aside from their constant presence, excessive and constant meowing is a more vocal call for your time. Good cats that suddenly misbehave may be rebelling and seeking the same thing – your attention. They want your attention because they are lonely.

If you start seeing these signs, it might be time to get yourself another kitty for them to play with or maybe spend some more quality time with them.

Keeping an observant eye is the best way for you to understand what your cat is feeling. When you learn to understand them better, then you begin to truly understand their day to day actions.

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