Top 10 Clues to Decipher Cat Moods

You may remember Tara the Hero Cat--this is her!

You may remember Tara the Hero Cat--this is her!

1)    Purring. The soothing low rumble of a cat's purr often signals happiness but not always. Cats purr to self-sooth from stress, illness or injury. Look for other clues. A happy purring cat will have relaxed muscles and closed or half closed eyes.


2)    Happy tail or angry tail. Cats speak volumes with their tails A common movement is the swishing back and forth tail. A happy cat may gently and slowly swish their tail from side to side. It may lovingly wrap itself around it's person's arm or leg. An angry or annoyed cat may swish or flick their tail in a faster jerky fashion.


3)    Rubbing you the right way. I like you. You belong to me. Now feed me, pet me or play with me. Any time a cat rubs up against a human from head bonks (bunting) to figure-8s around ankles they want something. It may look like affection but it's often attention seeking and the scent-exchange is a way to scent-bond. It's a feel-good territorial thing. The rubbing deposits an invisible chemical messenger called pheromones from cat's scent glands, marking the person, place or object as theirs.


4)    Paws care or scare. A light tap on your face with a paw while sleeping is a wake-up call. A harder and repeated taps with scratching or full body plant is more urgent. Feed me now or if something is seriously wrong, they’ll an add a loud, insistent meow. Many cat guardians know the gentle touching paw of compassion by cats who somehow know when we're feeling poorly or blue.


5)     Meow moods. Every meow or cat sound has a feeling and purpose. Adult cats rarely meow to each other and reserve their meow talk to humans. General meows alert us to needs like food or attention, a low warning growl, to a chirp of welcome or hello. Cats whether kittens or adults regard their human guardians as large maternal cats. When they trill to us as mother cats do to kittens, it means hello, come over here. Cats make over 100 different sounds. There are loud demanding meows, yowls of pain or alarm, whisper quiet mews and all speak volumes.


6)    Psycho-kitty. When a cat's good mood suddenly changes to bad, they aren't being bad. They may be over-stimulated and lash out from too much petting. They may feel ill or they may not like a change in their environment. Serious mood swings can signal a disease like hyperthyroidism and only a vet visit will decode that mood.


7)    The scaredy cat. Fear and anxiety can cause destructive behavior, inappropriate scratching or litter box use. The cat may hide or slink close to the ground. Watch for dilated pupils, ears flattened to the sides of the head and the tail low or between the legs.


8)    King or Queen of the World. The happy, confident cat walks tall with their tail straight up. If the tail is tall and hooked forwards, they are happy to see whoever they're greeting.
9)    I'm mad as hell. The angry aggressive cat is obvious. Their fur bristles into puffy points of the classic arched back Halloween cat pose. Their tail puffs out (this can also be a defensive posture from fear). They snarl, spit, hiss and growl in low but loud tones. Their claws are extended and ready to strike.


10) Look into my eyes. The slow blink and eyes of trust. Often called the "I love you" blink, it actually is more about trust. When a cat slow blinks in response to a human slow blinking at them, it signals to humans or other animal that they are not a threat. For bonded cats and their humans it’s a mutually relaxing and hypnotic love fest. In any case, relaxed cats keep their eyes half-closed while tense or alert cats have wide open eyes and ears pointed straight up or forward.

By holistic cat behaviorist Layla Morgan Wilde of

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Positively Expert: Layla Morgan Wilde

Layla Morgan Wilde, founder of Cat Wisdom 101, holistic cat expert and award-winning writer/photographer/speaker is the official cat behaviorist for Tara The Hero Cat.


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