How to Read Your Cat’s Face

Reading your cat’s face can be easy if you know what too look for. Cats are not a social species, so they do not have a need for cooperative signals. Cats have not developed a gesture or facial expression to greet you, like a wave or a tail wag. Your cat may be truly happy to see you, yet they maintain a relaxed and alert look.

The eyes, ears, mouth, and whiskers all work together in combination to give clues. You must know what each one does and how it relates to their mood.

Your cat’s eyes reveal his mood. When completely relaxed, the eyes shut and the cat shows no sign of fright. When your cat is frightened or curious, adrenalin is released causing your cat’s pupils to dilate. When your cat is unsure of how he feels, the pupils look restricted, and this could lead the cat into any direction concerning his mood.

The ears of your cat will usually give you the most accurate clue to her mood. There are over 20 muscles in your cat’s ears to control position. If the ears are held forward, your cat is relaxed, she also may hold her ears forward when greeting you or exploring her world. Ears down indicate aggression while ears that are pinned back mean fear and aggression at the same time. Twitching ears are a sign of an uncertain mood and it may develop into something more or resolve itself as their fears are identified.

The mouth and whiskers also are a good indicator of how your cat feels. When their whiskers are slightly forward they are likely to have a bad temper. If your cat has her mouth wide opened and is either hissing or baring her teeth she is guaranteed to be aggressive or scared or both.

Cats have a scent receptor above the roof of their mouth causing them to walk around with their mouth slightly opened. It would appear that they are trying to say ‘O’. This is most commonly found when a tomcat smells the urine of a female cat who is in heat.

Learning to recognize the expressions on your cat’s face will help you identify with how they feel. Cat owners tend to be good observers but it will take time to learn all of the moods your cat expresses. Spending this time observing your cat’s face will be beneficial for both you and your cat.



  1. That’s so interesting! Have you got anything similar about reading your dog’s face? They are much more articulate though…

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