How Do I Know When My Cat is Angry?

Although your cat can’t speak to you with words, they are expert communicators through their body language and vocalizations. It isn’t just being ticked off that they communicate, though. Cats can (and will!) express all types of emotions, both good and bad. The key to a happy cat is knowing how to identify these signals and being able to address your cat’s needs before any unwanted behaviors start. 

Arched back or hunching very low- This is a stereotype of an angry cat for a reason! When a cat is scared but is attempting to be intimidating, they try to make themselves look as big as possible. An arched back is one way they accomplish doing this. A cat who is hunched low is in a striking position. 

Tail flicking/ tail fluffing – Cats communicate with their tails just like dogs do, but the meanings may be a little different! A flicking tail can indicate that your cat is uncomfortable with something. It may only be a mild discomfort, but it’s worth checking to see if there is anything that could be bothering them and correct the problem before it escalates. This is usually one of the first signs a cat will give that they are fearful, irritated or beginning to get angry. 

Swatting- Who amongst cat lovers has not been swatted once or twice? This is a very common (and versatile!) way that cats will voice their overstimulation or their displeasure, and sometimes to get your attention if it has worked for them in the past. If your kitty swats at you, stop and take a step back from whatever the interaction was and reevaluate the situation.

Vocalizations- Different sounds mean different things, but listen for hissing, spitting, yeowling, or guttural moaning. These sounds all indicate that your cat would like whoever (or whatever) to back off, please! 

Ears and eyes– Ears pinned back are a clear sign that your cat is angry. Eye signals can be a bit more difficult to read, due to environmental factors such as the amount of light in a room. If your cat’s pupils are dilated, especially in conjunction with other signals, it is definitely something to ‘keep an eye on’. 

Cats aren’t angry by nature. ‘Angry’ behaviors are rooted in fear, and their behaviors are communicating that they are fearful and making themselves as big and intimidating as they can be. By helping your cat avoid or minimize the things that make them fearful, you will have a much less angry cat!