In the feline world, there’s a name for that perpetually grouchy looking facial expression many cats exhibit while idle. They call it resting cat face. Thanks to internet sensation Grumpy Cat, also known as Tardar Sauce, that less-than-happy look is what helped make this female feline famous and created this assumption that cats are almost always angry, annoyed, or apathetic. But resting cat face is just the way cats look. It is no way implies your cat is feeling anything but completely relaxed.
Unlike humans, whose facial expressions can say a lot about how they’re feeling, cats lack the facial muscles needed to produce an actual expression. That doesn’t mean your cat can’t be emotional. They have other ways of communicating temperament, mood, and state of mind.
You likely have some inkling about what your kitty's feeling when you watch him. You know whether he’s angry, sad, playful or relaxed, just by observing his ears, eyes, tail, and body.
Relying solely on your cat’s resting face to determine his state of mind would be foolhardy. If you truly want to understand your feline better and gauge his various moods, you’ll need to read his body language.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, here are some body-language cues that might shed light on your cat’s emotional state, although some clues can be contradictory:
Now hear this. If your cat’s ears are forward, she’s demonstrating happiness, interest, and alertness. Backward, sideways or flat ear positions denote anger, fear, or annoyance. If your furry friend swivels his ears, he’s being attentive.
Eyes wide open. Constricted pupils can either be a sign of contentment or impending aggression. Pupils that are dilated signal nervousness or aggression. Fully dilated pupils can also be a signal kitty is ready to play. If you’re unsure which way your cat is leaning, observe other parts of his body to measure his mood.
Tail tells all. Your cat’s tail is like a mood meter. If it’s erect or quivering without standing fur, she’s happy and curious. If the tail is upright with standing fur, she’s angry or afraid. A tail that’s tucked between the legs suggests kitty is anxious or feeling unsafe. When it’s thrashing about, it’s time to steer clear as this cat is fed up.
Back to basics. You’re dealing with an angry or frightened cat if his back is arched and his fur is standing on end. An arched back without standing fur, however, means you’re welcome to approach and pet him. If he’s lying on his back purring, your cat is calm and resting. But if he’s lying on his back growling, back off. He’s letting you know he’s upset and ready to pounce.
So, before you assume your cat’s resting face means he’s communicating displeasure, check his ears, tail, and posture. Learning to read his body language will give you more insight into your feline’s disposition and help you better understand his personality. 🐈