Understanding cat body language – Transcript

Every cat is an individual, so when interacting with them it's important to figure out what they like or dislike and then respect their preferences

Some cats will happily spend hours on your lap

Others will prefer to just be close by

And some may prefer playing with toys rather than being petted

At Battersea, we use the acronym C A T to understand what kind of interaction a cat is comfortable with

It stands for "choice"

Did I give the cat a choice to tell me if they actually wanted to be touched, where they wanted to be touched, and when they had had enough

"Am I paying attention"

Am I looking out for any signs that tell me the cat is enjoying the interaction or might be uncomfortable


Where am I touching the cat

Is this a place friendly cats generally like being touched

For touch, think of a traffic light system

Green areas are the places where cats generally like to be touched and include the cheeks, base of the ears, and the chin

Red areas are very sensitive for most cats

These are the stomach and the base of the tail

The rest of a cat's body are amber areas, which some cats might like having touched but many won't

Red and amber areas should generally be avoided especially if you don't know the cat well

The CAT acronym can be used with any cat and will help to keep interactions positive

Now let's apply it to some different situations

First, crouch down a little distance away from the cat and offer them your hand

A cat who wants to interact will come over to you and probably rub their cheek on your hands

This is a good sign - they want to be touched

Try to let the cat take charge and only touch the areas they have chosen to rub against you

Usually the cheeks and around the base of their ears

After a few seconds gently move your hand away

This gives the cat the choice of going in for more or moving away

Offering breaks will help gain their trust and help them feel in control

Even if you think they're enjoying the interaction it's important to check in regularly with how the cat is feeling

Pay attention and always adjust your approach based on the cat's body language

Some cats will enjoy sitting near people but without any physical contact

If a cat sits slightly away from you it's important not to force them to interact

You could try offering a hand from where you're sitting but if they don't approach you then leave them to it

When a cat doesn't want to be touched they will show you in lots of ways

The cat might move away, stop purring or rubbing against you, suddenly stop moving, yawn and turn their head away, lick their nose, shake their head, rotate or flatten their ears, ripple their fur if you try to touch them

These are all subtle signs that the cat is not comfortable and needs some space

It's also important to remember that most cats don't like to be picked up as this takes away their choice and control entirely

Now that you've learned CAT remember: always give your cat the choice to interact while paying attention to their body language and only stroking them where they're comfortable being touched

That was our advice on interacting with your cat The Battersea Way

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