What are Your Pets Trying to Tell You
It can be tempting to look at your cat or dog's body language and interpret as you may another person's. But pets are different from people, and sometimes have their own unique body language cues.
Learn how to recognize certain behaviors so that you can understand how your pets are feeling and what they're trying to express to you.
- You can tell a dog is in a friendly mood when the ears are relaxed, the tail is flat with plenty of wagging, and there is gentle eye contact.
- A friendly cat’s eyes will be alert and blinking, and her ears will be pointed forward while she holds her head up and fans out her whiskers. If you hear meowing, she may be looking to interact. Keep in mind that the interaction should be based on the personality of the cat and the context of the situation.
- A fearful dog is usually crouching with his tail between his legs. He will also not look you in the eye or may roll over on his back. Be careful around a fearful dog as he may bite if he feels threatened
- You may have to look closely for indications of fear in your cat, because while her posture may appear calm, a closer look at her face and tail may show distress. A fearful cat may have dilated pupils and flattened ears, and her tail may be held downward, close to her body, while she flattens her whiskers and presses them against her face. Try to minimize sudden or rapid movements as they may amplify your cat’s discomfort.
- If the dog stares and holds his tail motionless, growls, and holds his ears forward, he may be a threat. Watch out for this behavior.
- Cats showing negative body language are most likely not open to contact. It’s best not to try to approach or pick up a cat that is hissing or growling.
- When a dog pushes his chest to the ground and holds his rear and tail in the air, he is trying to initiate play.
- When a cat is standing with her tail curled, rolling side to side or belly up, she’s likely looking for contact and play. Her ears may be pointed forward as well. Just make sure not to touch her on the stomach, as you would a dog, because this will elicit reflexive, defensive, or predatory behaviors that might make her claw or bite your hand.
Always be aware of how your dog or cat is feeling and acting. Talk to your veterinarian if your pets start to exhibit any unusual or drastically different behavior.