Cats and dogs are very expressive creatures, but not in the same way humans are. How can you tell if your pet is happy, sad, scared or sick? Learn more about the key body language signs that can help you determine how your pet really feels.
Surprisingly, you can tell a lot about a cat’s mood by its tail. If your cat’s tail is held high, then he or she is confident and content. But, If it has a curve in (almost like a question mark), your cat is in a playful mood. If your cat’s tail is positioned straight out low, then he or she is in a serious or aggressive mood. A whipping or wagging tail can mean a few things. You may have noticed your cat swish its tail before pouncing on a toy, this means it is focused on something. But, if your cat’s tail is whipping back and forth quicker it could indicate fear or aggression, another sign to give your cat some space.
Dogs have similar tail behaviors in regards to mood. The most distinctive tail position is when a dog tucks its tail between its legs meaning the dog is submissive or fearful. Wagging is a sign of feeling happy and content, moving more rapidly as the dog becomes more excited. A stiff tail means a dog is alert or focused on something.
Both cats and dogs move their ears with their mood. For example, a cat’s ears move forward when it is in a content mood and move back when it is irritated.
Each breed has different shapes of ears, but in most cases, if a dog is holding its ears naturally they are relaxed and trusting. If a dog moves its flat to their head they are scared. As in both animals, ears perked up almost always means they are alert or focused on something.
In a cat, you can tell a lot about their mood based on the dilation of its eyes. When pupils are dilated or mostly black, cats are surprised or stimulated, but if they are constricted then the cat is tense. Slow blinking or half-closed eyes mean that your cat feels safe and trusts its surroundings.
Many dog breeds have a “Mohawk” or hair on the back of their neck that stands up when they are alert or showing signs of fear. Dogs can also show mood by their posture such as hunching their back or cowering when scared or pushing their chest out to show aggression.