Decoding Your Cat



May 10, 2022

We at Bivvy love our mysterious, often-aloof, occasionally cuddly felines. And cats are having a bit of a moment in general—their trendiness and popularity only seem to be on the rise. But with cats comes a bit of their signature whimsy and mystery. Primarily in the form of their body language. Read on for a little primer on some iconic cat body language and what it means, so you can better understand your little feline friend.


Cats have gotten pegged with the stereotype of being distant, persnickety, and affection-less. And, hey, for better or worse, maybe you’ve got a feline companion who fits that bill and is more of a lone ranger or a cat person than a people person. But there are plenty who love human company and closeness and won’t be afraid to let you know it.

One of the ways they do this is by purring. It often happens when we pet them. When you hear that sweet little motor get going, it’s been triggered by your cat being relaxed and enjoying something. Cats *can* purr when they’re upset, but that’s rare.


A cat that plants himself down on the ground and rolls, exposing his literal soft underbelly, is also showing trust and affection!


Bunting, or head butting, is a sign of a cat marking his territory. But they also do it when they love someone or something. Watch them do it to their favorite humans and fellow critters. If you’re on the receiving end, you can consider yourself a VIP in your cat’s eyes.


This is something cats do in kittenhood on their mothers to get the milk flowing but is also a habitual thing that persists into adulthood. They’ll do it when they’re feeling relaxed, content, and loved. If you see your cat kneading you or a pillow, blanket, or cat bed in your presence, know that they approve of you and/or the environment you’ve created for them, and feel comfortable in your presence.

Bringing You Prey

Perhaps you’ve been the lucky beneficiary of this if your cat spends any time outside. It may be gross, but it too is a sign of trust and affection.

Sleeping On You

Cats are at their most vulnerable when they’re asleep. They only sleep in secure and trusted locations. So, if you’re one of the lucky ones with a cat snuggly enough that they’ll sleep on you, know that this means you’re a trusted, safe space for them.

A Tail High in the Air

We could write an entire blog on all that cats communicate with their tails. But for now, we’ll stick with one position. And yes, this one is another sign of affection. If your cat’s tail is shaped like a candy cane—straight up with the end slightly tipped, they’re in high spirits.


Cats don’t often meow at other cats. Kittens will sometimes meow at their mothers, but otherwise cats reserve their meows for humans. And frankly, cats don’t “talk” to people they don’t like. So, if a cat chats with you, you’ve made the cut!


The jury’s out on this one. Why do cats lick us? No one’s sure, but there are a few theories out there. One is that it could be a sign of trust or affection. Mother cats lick their kittens, after all, so maybe it’s like that—when your cat licks you, they’re saying you’re a part of their family. Another is that your cat is “accessing biochemical information from your skin.” Or marking you as their territory. Another one that’s very on-brand for cats is that they may be getting your scent off themselves after you’ve pet them!


So, why does your cat stare at you? They’re either trying to communicate with you, they’re curious, they’re expressing emotion, or they’re waiting for a cue from you. They could also be processing stimuli around them. But basically, they’re observing you!

You may have conditioned your cat, without realizing it, to stare at you when they want something, if you’ve rewarded their staring with play, petting, a meal, or a treat.

If your cat’s staring is accompanied by a slow blink, it means they’re feeling safe, happy, comfortable, and affectionate toward you, or another cat, if that’s who they’re staring at.

But cats also just don’t blink as regularly as humans do. So, your cat may not *mean* to be staring as intensely as they are; they just don’t blink.

However, some say that staring might not mean much of anything. They truly may just be looking to see what you do next, or think you’re interesting, or just see you as a provider of good things.

Or they may truly be hungry! Check to see if it’s a feeding time or if their kibble bowl is empty.

Signs of Stress

A cat frozen in place is fearful or stressed. He also may run and hide. Or his ears will be tucked back or to the side. It’s best not to hold or touch a cat in this state.

An arched back is often a sign of distress or agitation too, especially if their hair’s standing on end. Their goal here is to make themselves look large when they feel threatened. Cats also sometimes arch their backs when they’re just playing and getting ready to pounce. The fur won’t be puffed up in this case. But often, that spooky Halloweeny-looking cat is in distress.

If you’re a cat person, you may be familiar with the fact that routine cat veterinary visits can get pricey. Bivvy Wellness Care can help take the edge off when added to your affordable accident and illness cat insurance from Bivvy.

Severe diarrhea or vomiting can lead to a stay for monitoring, adding up to $600-$1500 for a couple of days.

If your cat gets in a fight and needs stitches, you’ll shell out $800-$1500.

And an emergency surgery will cost at least a few thousand dollars.

Bivvy’s affordable pet insurance can help protect your pocketbook in covered accidents and illnesses! Take it from other cat parents here in our Bivvy reviews. One cat parent, of Chloe the Tortie, says, “My animals are my children, and they depend on me to keep them healthy at every stage of their lives. When I saw Bivvy, it was the perfect fit. I was relieved knowing that I wouldn’t have to worry about the financial burden. The claims are really easy to file, and Bivvy is fast at reviewing them. Checks are mailed right away too which is a huge relief!”

We’re here for you at every step of the way in your cat parenthood journey!