Relaxed cat: eyes half closed, ears point slightly outward
Cats don't speak English and other human languages, but they use a language that people from any country can understand. It's the body language. You may have noticed that your cat has different facial expressions depending on its mood. That's just a tiny bit of the rich body language. There's a great number of signs and signals your cat demonstrates while you communicate. If you learn to read these signs right, you'll always know how your cat feels and how you should respond. Sometimes it's better to leave the cat alone, and sometimes your cat will clearly ask for petting. This understanding should help you develop a deep bond that will last a lifetime.

Cat body language tips

Cats have three main "tools" to express themselves: the ears, the eyes, and the tail. However, cat body language can be very complex, so you should always look at the cat as a whole in order to understand its intentions correctly. You can't take a single signal and base your conclusions just on that. For example, widely open eyes can mean both fear and excitement. So you don't misinterpret your cat, it's important to take into account other signals that come from the cat's body.
Excited cat: ears point forward, eyes wide open
The latter shows that the cat has focused her full attention on you, and is typical when, for example, you are going to feed her.

Happiness and relaxation

When a cat is excited...
- the ears usually point forward and slightly outward;
- the eyes are usually open or half closed (if sleepy) with pupils of a normal size;
- blinking is slow and unhurried;
- the tail is usually curved down and then up at the tip.
Apart from that, a relaxed or happy cat is very likely to purr, which can be translated into human language like ""I feel good, I love you, and I like it what you are doing". If a cat rubs against you with its head, it is also an expression of love. Rubbing against your feet means looking for some attention.
Anxious cat: eyes wide open, tail held low

Excitement

When a cat is excited...
- the ears are straight up and pointed forward;
- the eyes are open widely with a glimpse of sparks;
- the tail is carried straight up, or raised slightly forming a gentle curve;
- the tip of the tail may occasionally twitch.
When the cat wants to play with you, it will usually paw at you. It can also try to use other means to draw your attention.

Anxiety

When a cat is anxious...
- the ears may twitch;
- the eyes are open widely and the pupils are enlarged;
- the tail is held low, the tip of the tail may twitch.

Anger and offence

When a cat is angry or offended...
- the ears are held flat against the head;
Angry cat: hissing, ears held flat
- the pupils are fully dilated, which makes the eyes look totally black;
- the tail is swishing from side to side, it may be arched or held straight up with hair standing on end,
- the back may be arched,
- the hair may stand on end becoming porcupine-like.
When a cat is angry, it can also hiss and lash out.

Fear

When a cat is frightened...
- the ears are held flat against the head;
- the eyes are open widely;
- the tail is held low or between hind legs, usually motionless;
- the back may be arched with hair standing on end.
A frightened cat may also try to crouch down and to get away.
Frightened cat: ears flat against the head, tail lowered

It is worth mentioning that cat behaviour sometimes depends on the breed it belongs to. For example, if a cat is walking with both the head and tail down, it would normally indicate submission. However, this particular posture is typical for the Bengal breed.

Watch your cat attentively. Pay attention to the signals it demonstrates, and you'll quickly get the hang of its body language, which will surely help you both communicate in a better way.
 Good article Emotion: smile
I would just like to add that (in my experience) kittens have a slightly different body language, for example they use "angry" body language when playing more often than adult cats do. A good example is the posture of the cat in the ...
 Hey veanova! Thanks for the useful comment and... welcome here! Emotion: wink You're absolutely right about the difference of the body languages... A very accurate remark!
 Thank you Emotion: smile
One more thing that most cat owners know I suppose:  When a cat kneads it's paws in your lap/belly/face it means that they're happy and that they're preparing to settle down. Some cats do this with their claws out, which can be pretty ...
 Wow Veanova I love your comments! How long have you been living with cats? What you wrote describes my own cat pretty much, though he doesn't kneads his paws in every visitor's belly. Emotion: big smile What's true is that he loves to knead my mom's lap before ...
 I've lived with cats since I was born, minus the last three years since I've moved to Oslo to get a master's degree in architecture.. so that's 20 years I suppose!
My girlfriend and I moved together recently, and she lived with three friends and a ...
 Nice... I better read this article. I've never really understood their behavior and body language, which sometimes makes grown up cats a little bit "scary" to me.
 You have to understand cats to really love them! They sit, showing their tail side to tell you to come to them, they like it when you pet them, some bite you, but only to tell you they want more petting!