How to Read your Cat’s Mood

Like humans, cats display a variety of positive and negative emotions – from being moody to being extra snuggly. Being a cat owner means understanding these moods and behaviours easily.

Although mood can vary depending on each individual cat’s personality and situation, their body language is a big pointer towards what kind of mood they are in. The way they vocalize also helps us recognize what they are communicating with us. 


Following are a few general cat moods and the signs that will help you read them:


Content or Happy


A cat in a good mood feels relaxed, maybe because it ate or slept well or simply because it enjoys your company or the environment it is currently in.


Body language 

A content cat will:

  • purr when petted, indicating it is calm and collected
  • knead blankets or groom their owners
  • carry a loose posture by laying down on their side, with legs spread out
  • have its eyes completely or partially closed or slow-blink which shows they trust you
  • have the tail steady and ears standing neutrally



  • responding with high pitched, short moews
  • they may also meow loudly for attention-seeking


Other related signs

  • show affection by rubbing your legs/feet
  • be greatly sociable and playful with other pets and owners
  • have a good appetite and let you know when it is hungry



Aggression in felines is usually always stimulated by the presence of another animal in their territory. Your cat might also not like something that you are doing and it shows subtle signs to let you know.


Body Language

Angry cats may:

  • have constricted pupils and pulled back ears
  • have their tail standing completely or partially, with the fur being raised (to make it look bigger and more intimidating)
  • the tail may also be thrashing
  • they also constantly stare at the other cat/person


  • hissing and spitting at others
  • may yowl or howl when approached
  • have low-pitched meows to show annoyance

Other related signs

  • angry cats may freeze before attacking
  • try to scratch or bite their opponents


Stressed, Anxious or Fearful 


A stressed cat generally feels uncomfortable and distressed which could be due to foreign surroundings or changes in lifestyle. The cat may also feel this way as a result of illness or injuries. If your cat is showing hiding behaviour or following people around the house too much, this too can be linked with anxiety and sickness. Likewise, fear can be induced by another pet nearby or the occurrence of a traumatic event.


Body language

Cats will exhibit their fear and/or stress by:

  • having a tensed posture in a crouching position
  • tail may be pulled closer to the body
  • lowered yet attentive head position
  • ears pulled backwards or rotating 
  • eyes will appear wide with almost black, dilating pupils



  • low-pitched meows to show annoyance or frustration
  • generally poor response when called


Other related signs

Anxious cats also:

  • litter and spray in unusual places
  • suddenly lose weight as a result of poor eating habits
  • increase scratching to relieve stress
  • show repetitive, excessive grooming behaviour


(Related: if these signs persist in the cat, this could show that it is depressed. See the signs of feline depression here.)


If you are experiencing difficulty understanding your furry companions behaviour, or notice constant angression, anxiety or stress contact  a veterinarian immediately.