The Confident Cat - Felineality

The Confident Cat

The confident cat purposefully moves through space, standing straight and tall with tail erect. He is ready to explore his environment and engage those he meets along the way. His upright tail signifies his friendly intentions, while his ears are forward and erect adding to the cat’s alert expression.

Key points:

  • Tail held upright
  • Ears forward and erect
  • Pupils moderate - unless in very bright setting
  • Purposeful upright walk
AWL Pet Advice - Felineality

The Confident Cat at Ease

When relaxed, a confident cat stretches out on his side or lies on his back exposing his belly. He is in a calm but alert state and accepts being approached. His entire posture is open and at ease;
but beware, not every cat that exposes his abdomen will respond well to a belly rub. Some will grasp your hand with their front paws, rake your forearm with their hind feet and bite your hand.

Key points:

  • Head and ears up
  • Medium-sized pupils
  • Body stretched out
  • Whiskers held to the side
  • Paws may flex in kneading motion
  • Stomach semi- to completely exposed
AWL Pet Advice - Felineality


Distance-Reducing behaviours

Distance-reducing behaviors encourage approach and social interaction and are meant to telegraph to others that the cat means no harm. The act of rubbing against a person’s hand or another cat (scent marking) to distribute glandular facial pheromones from the forehead, chin or whisker bed is calming and seems to guarantee friendly interaction immediately afterward. The tail is usually held erect while the cat is scent-rubbing.

Key points:

  • Temporal glands on sides of forehead
  • Submandibular gland under the chin
  • Tail held erect
  • Perioral glands at corners of the mouth
  • Interdigital glands on the bottoms of all four paws
AWL Pet Advice - Felineality

Distance-Increasing Behaviours

The goal of distance-increasing behaviors is to keep others from coming closer. Aggressive interactions are avoided when the warnings are heeded. Conflicted cats lack the confidence to stare down and charge others. Instead, they assume a defensive threat posture, warning others away by appearing as formidable as possible by arching their backs, swishing their tails, and standing sideways and as tall as
possible. Fear and arousal causes their fur to stand on end (pilo-erection) and pupils to dilate.

Key points:

  • Arched back
  • Pilo-erect Fur
  • Ears held flat
  • Pupils dialate
  • Whiskers pulled back
  • Curved and swishing
  • Paw ready to swat if necessary
AWL Pet Advice - Felineality

The Anxious Cat

When a cat becomes anxious, he crouches into a ball, making himself appear smaller than usual. Muscles are tensed and the cat is poised to flee if necessary. The tail is held close to the body, sometimes
wrapped around the feet. The head is held down and pulled into the shoulders.

Key points:

  • Tail held close to body, may flick out
  • Body hunched, muscles tensed
  • Ears swiveled sideways
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Tail held close to body, may flick out
AWL Pet Advice - Felineality

Defensive Aggression

The pariah threat is another distance-increasing posture. When a cat determines that he cannot escape an unwanted interaction with a more dominant animal, he prepares to defend himself. The ears are pulled back and nearly flat against the head for protection and the head and neck are pulled in tight against the body. Facial muscles tense, displaying one weapon - the teeth. The cat rolls slightly over to one side in order to expose the rest of his arsenal - his claws. He is now ready to protect himself.

Key points:

  • Ears pulled flat and back against the head
  • Pupils dialated
  • Facial muscles tensed, displaying teeth
  • Paw ready to swat with claws exposed
  • Rolling over on one side to better expose claws
AWL Pet Advice - Felineality

The Predator

Even when fed two meals a day, cats are still predators. The predatory sequence is stalk, pounce, kill, remove, and eat. When stalking prey, a cat may stealthily move forward or lie in wait, shifting his weight between his hind feet. When movement is detected, the cat pounces on his prey and delivers a killing bite. He may then take the fresh-killed prey to a quiet place to eat – or a female may take it to her kittens. Even cats that don’t hunt for their meals still enjoy chasing moving objects, including toys and, in some cases, human body parts.

Key points:​

  • Ears forward
  • Low to the ground, muscles tensed
  • May shift weight between back feet, readying to pounce
AWL Pet Advice - Felineality

The Groomer

Cats spend 30 to 50 percent of their waking time grooming. Backward-facing barbs on the tongue act as a comb to loosen tangles and remove some parasites. Beyond maintaining the cat’s coat, grooming also relieves tension and promotes comfort. Licking also facilitates cooling off in warm weather.

Key points:

  • Tremendous flexibility allows cat to groom nearly entire body
AWL Pet Advice - Felineality