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Cats Communicate Non-Verbally
We can learn a lot about our cats' temperament, as well as their health at any given time by learning and observing their body language. They may or may not vocalize, but in most cases, cats' body language is unmistakable.
As an example, the "third eyelid," known also as the nictitating membrane, in the inner corner of the eye, normally barely shows. However, when a cat is very sick, the third eyelid will show. Combined with a "glassy look" and other symptoms, the appearance of... the third eyelid is an indication, in this case, for immediate veterinary intervention. Sumner, pictured here, had a temperature of 104° and was a very sick cat.Continue to 2 of 10 below.
02 of 10
Third Eyelid with Happy Eyes
On the other hand, the third eyelid will often show when a cat is very contented, or very sleepy, or both. Evinrude here is enjoying some "lovies" from his human, and the circumstances indicate that he is very happy, rather than sick. This is a convincing argument for knowing your cat's normal disposition, behavior, and observing his body language during various daily events. You'll be better equipped to quickly access and respond when something goes amiss with your cats.Continue to 3 of 10 below.
03 of 10
Cats' Intense Interest: Predatory?
Cats display interest with a number of body signals. Their ears will tilt forward to better hear. Whiskers direct forward and their eyes will widen. In this picture, Coco displays more of a predatory interest. One can almost hear Coco chittering at the noisy woodpecker just outside her window. Her slightly "curled" upper lip and open mouth indicate that she is most likely displaying the flehman response to the temptation of the bird. Her crouched posture and slightly turned-back ears, as... she schemes toward catching it are also a dead giveaway to her emotions.Continue to 4 of 10 below.
04 of 10
Cat Body LanguageCautious Interest in New Cat
The way integration of a new cat to existing cats in a household lays the groundwork for their future social hierarchy. Ronron, the cat on the right, appears to be displeased with the intrusion of Philo. Ronron has one cautious paw raised and her head is pulled back slightly, indicating " fear aggression," and both cats are staring intently at each other (an attempt at intimidation.) However, as Rachel pointed out, Ronron's ears are still directed in Philo's direction, so we can... tell her curiosity is stronger than her fear.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
Cats' Active/Passive Competition
These two cats are playing a familiar game of competition, and the winner remains to be seen, judging by their body language. Yesrie, the human caregiver to these ebony companions, describes the scene best:Continue to 6 of 10 below.
06 of 10
Fight or Flight?
It is uncertain whether Mr. Cat is in a flight or fight mode. His puffed up tail, arched back, and sideways position are indicative of both, depending on the circumstances. Cats will assume this posture when frightened, but also when they are preparing to do battle, whether it be for real or in play fighting. Have you ever watched two young kittens play-fighting? They will face off in this position, then one will launch himself sideways onto the back of the other, and their rough-housing will... begin.Continue to 7 of 10 below.
07 of 10
This is a favorite perch on the porch for viewing the bird feeder which can be seen in the background. George's expression: ears slightly lowered to the side, indirect eye contact, and erect posture, indicate that he's not pleased that Bandit is taking up the entire space, and some form of physical resolution to the situation may be forthcoming. Bandit is attempting to make eye contact and reading George's signals, although he really doesn't seem too concerned. He was there... first. "Bring it on, big boy."Continue to 8 of 10 below.
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Gus shows possessiveness with his feather duster, whether against another cat or a human pursuer. Laid-back whiskers and ears, slightly crouched body position, and lowered tail make it very clear that no one, whether cat or human, had better try to take away HIS feather duster.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
Innocent Victim Caught in Cat Fight
This picture is a priceless scene of an innocent victim caught in between two cats who are duking it out. The aggressiveness of the two combatants is unmistakable, while poor Buzzbomb, caught in the middle, wants to be anywhere but here.Continue to 10 of 10 below.
10 of 10
Dominance and Resignation
Bubba (the gray cat) is a 17-year-old alpha cat in retirement. He has willingly turned over his legacy to Jaspurr, three years old. Whether intentional or not, even at sleep, Jaspurr has asserted his dominance over Bubba with his back leg thrown over Bubba's neck. Bubba, in turn, gazes inward in apparent resignation. It should be noted that shortly after this photo was taken, they were engaging in mutual grooming, evidence that Bubba still retains control at times.