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8 Feline Expressions That All Cat Lovers Know Well

The concentrated litter-box face, the fierce-hunter eyes, and the "what's for me?" mug are just some of the looks our cats have perfected.

Angie Bailey  |  Feb 18th 2016


We always know where we stand with a cat. Their colorful expressions tell us when they’re sleepy, irritated, excited, or on the hunt for something interesting and “dangerous.” Often their expressions make us laugh — not because we’re making fun of them, but because they look so darn cute even when they’re wearing their crankiest look.

Those of us who share our lives and love with kitties have become accustomed to their diverse palette of expressions. Here are eight totally recognizable ones.

1. “You’re not here”

I'm alone.

I’m alone. Photo by Shutterstock

Cats want to engage with us on their terms, and when we don’t meet those terms, they sometimes ignore us. But it’s not the kind of ignoring that most humans do to one another. Even if we’re pretending to ignore another person, we can do a passable job of looking oblivious. Obliviousness means nothing to kitties. They pull this move where they don’t look directly at us, feigning inattentiveness; however, their slightly cocked ears tell a different story. They’re also not-so-great at disguising their annoyed eyes and smirk. I swear they smirk!

2. “No, really — I’m awake”

Go away, Sandman.

Go away, Sandman. Photo by Shutterstock

Why do cats fight sleep? They don’t battle it all the time — in fact, they’re known for their epic naps. But occasionally we watch them go mano-a-mano against the Sandman. Their upper eyelids slowly drop, and just as soon as they nearly connect with the lower ones, they retreat to their original position, or at least halfway there. Then the dropping starts all over again. When my cats seem to fight sleep, I tell them, “You’re not going to miss anything — go to sleep!” Who knows? In their minds, a blimp-sized, jerky-filled piñata could open its belly and drop a load of treats all over the neighborhood. Humans’ eyeballs would become impaled with pointed jerky strips, but cats would have entered some sort of carnivorous Utopia. Just go to sleep, cat.

3. “Feed me”

For me?

For me? Photo by Shutterstock

Oh, yeah. This is the one we see at least twice a day, and sometimes for a full hour or more prior to the scheduled meal time. Cats don’t care about schedules. They care that every trip we make to the kitchen could wind up with some kind of gravy component.

4. “But I’m cute!”

But look! Tiny paw!

But look! Tiny paw! Photo by Shutterstock

Cats know just when to pull the cute card, and it’s usually when we’re trying to meet a deadline or get out the door for an appointment. Not that they’re not ridiculously adorable all the time, but sometimes they roll over, engage those lovey-dovey eyes, stretch a little paw toward us, and we melt into a puddle of goo. Deadline, be damned! This cat needs me! Very few of us are immune to feline manipulation of this caliber.

5. “What? I’m not doing anything”

You see nothing.

You see nothing. Photo by Shutterstock

Um, yes you are, Mr. Liar Pants. Cats think they’re slick, but we can see right through that “looking for trouble” expression. Sometimes they’re mid-shenanigan when they flash it, and other times they wear it while walking around the house searching for shenanigans. Sorry to bust your stealthy bubble, kitties, but you’re so busted.

6. “Important ‘business’ happening”

This is not crappy focus. Or is it?

This is not crappy focus. Or is it? Photo by Shutterstock

I like to give my cats privacy when I see them walking toward a litter box. I think this is mighty swell of me because they don’t extend the same toilet-related courtesy to me. Whatever the case, most of us give our cats their space when they’re ready to squat. Then there are those unplanned times when we walk in on our cats while they’re litter-boxing. There’s a particular, concentrated look kitties wear when they’re serious about their output. They won’t be distracted, and it appears they choose a spot somewhere in the room and laser-focus their vision right there. It reminds me of when I was in labor with my human children. The coaches always told us that when we’re mid-contraction, to focus on an object in the room while we’re breathing. So cats are kind of birthing little pieces of poo. Not really.

7. “What’s for me?”

Pop-top?

Pop-top? Photo by Shutterstock

This is the kind of expression cats get when they hear a pop-top open on a can of food … or soup. It doesn’t matter what’s underneath the pop-top — what’s clear is it’s obviously for cats. Kitties also get this look sometimes when they hear us talking to another cat. Because they’re pretty certain they’re missing out on something cool. When asked about it, cats would probably tell us, “This is why we fight sleep, people. Pop-tops!”

8. “I’m gonna get you, sucka!”

The fierce!

The fierce! Photo by Shutterstock

The fierce face of the mighty hunter! No matter whether the prey is a live mouse or a piece of floating fuzz, the enemy gets the same ferocious pre-pounce face. Rawr!

What’s your favorite feline expression? Tell us in the comments!

Read more by Angie Bailey:

About the Author: Angie Bailey is an eternal optimist with an adoration of all things silly. Loves pre-adolescent boy humor, puns, making up parody songs, thinking about cats doing people things and The Smiths. Writes Catladyland, a cat humor blog, Texts from Mittens (originated right here on Catster) and authored whiskerslist: the kitty classifieds, a silly book about cats wheeling and dealing online. Partner in a production company and writes and acts in comedy web series that features sketches and mockumentaries. Mother to two humans and three cats, all of which want her to make them food.