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How do cats communicate their feelings?

Have you ever wondered how a cat communicates what they are feeling? There are some obvious signs to look for and most of us know a happy cat from an unhappy cat, but what about the emotions in-between?

In this blog I’ll share with 20 ways in which our furry friends will show us how they are feeling. From floofs to frequency I’ve got your covered:

Body Language – What Does It Mean?

One of the most obvious ways that we can read cats is by looking at their body language. We can tell that a cat is stressed by looking at their puffy tail but what if (like my Baby Max) a fluffy tail is their norm!?


If a cat’s ears are up or forward it is their normal position and shows a happy cat.

If the cats’ ears are slanted sideways or almost flat against their head, it is a sign of either fear of aggression. 


Dilated pupils can indicate either a fearful or overly excited cat.

Small slits for pupils are signs of a relaxed, happy and content cat.


The formal term for the hair rising on the back of a cat is Piloerection (!) In our house we call it hackles.

Cats will show their hackles being up on their neck, back and tail if they feel threatened.

This is not usually shown as a pleasure response.

Change of Behaviour

This is the second most frequently used method of communication that’s cats will use with humans to share how they feel. Yet sadly it is probably the most misunderstood. 

Most behaviourists and cat professionals will advise that if your cat has a sudden, significant or consistent change to their behaviour you should get help. Cats will show signs of stress, frustration, anxiety, fear and pain from displaying a range of the following behaviours:

  • Pooping/weeing around the house or outside the litter box
  • Change to eating habits
  • Reluctance for touch
  • Withdrawn
  • Hiding away
  • Excess/increased vocalisation
  • Increased aggression or reactivity

Be sure to keep an eye on your cat, you can tell what they are feeling from a change in their behaviour. You may need to take into account a couple of other elements too, but they are sharing how they feel with you.

Physical Touch – To Touch or Not To Touch?

Most people who have cats want a cuddly cat. I have lost count of the number of people that come to me asking for help to make their cat cuddly. The fact is – not all cats will be lap cats.

Not all cats will enjoy or tolerate physical touch.

If you have a cat that lets you have any form of physical contact, you are a lucky cat mum or dad. Treasure the contact that you have.

Cats will display the following (but not limited to) forms of physical contact with humans:

Nose boop
Head nudge/rub
Leg rub
Sitting/lying on your lap

All the actions above usually indicate a happy, relaxed and trusting cat. The cat is scent marking you and you should consider yourself special!

Generally speaking, a claw/paw swipe is a swift ‘no thank you’ from the cat. So be warned, take heed of their boundary setting. If you push the cat and continue with your behaviour or action it is very possible you will get bitten, scratched or attacked.

The cat is setting a boundary and we need to respect that.

If you have a cat that usually tolerates physical touch, but suddenly changes and won’t accept contact, this is usually a sign there is something wrong. Often, it’s because the cat is in pain or discomfort so I would recommend a trip to the vet to rule out any physical issues.

The Cat Said What?

Science says that cats only use vocalisation for us humans. I disagree. I’ve heard street cats yowling and fighting, but I’ve also heard Baby Max meep at Leo. So, what does science say about that??

I’ve known cats to use vocalisation for both pleasure and pain. Take purring for example, usually cats will purr when they are happy but there are also instances when they will purr as a self-soothing mechanism when they are stressed.  

When Leo comes into the house he meows, or meeps to see where I am. And recently Baby Max has started to meep when we are preparing his food (it’s so cute, my heart totally melts!)

Many clients, friends and family members share with me that they know their cats’ noises. As cat mums and dads, we can tell the difference between our fur babies yowling in pain to a cheeky hello meep. These are the extremes of their noises, but your cat will have their own vocabulary with you.

I can’t advise you specifically on this one, other than to say trust your instinct. Listen to your heart, you will know your own cats sounds and you can interpret what they mean.

Energetic Changes

This is my favourite way that we can tell what our cats are feeling – by asking them.

Connecting to their energy, their frequency. If you can’t do it yourself, ask a professional cat communicator (like me!) They can ask your cat how they are feeling, what is going on in their little world.

Or you can connect to your heart space, your inner knowing, your epic cat mum or awesome cat dad vibes and see how the cat feels.

Do you ever think that your cat just ‘feels off’? You can sense their change of energy, of frequency. You may not be able to articulate it to either a vet or even another human, but you just know.

All emotions have their own frequency, and we can feel these frequencies. You know when you walk into the room and ‘you could cut the atmosphere with a knife’. That’s energy you are feeling.

I’ll cover more in this in another blog.

How Do Cats Communicate Their Feelings?

In conclusion, cats communicate their feelings in many ways. They do it all day long.

We just need to take the time to listen.

I hope you have enjoyed this blog, if so, please share it with a friend, family member or colleague using the share buttons below.


Julie-Anne, Leo and Baby Max (his official name!) xx


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