Last week I told you about that remarkably powerful communication tool known as your cat’s tail. Another part of cat anatomy, your cat’s eyes, also speak volumes, but unlike “tail talk,” eye talk is (usually) quite a bit subtler form of behavior. Here are some facts about my favorite feline looks and what they mean, as well as photos illustrating them.
1. Aren’t I cute? Don’t you want to pet me?
Kittens are experts in this particular pseudo-bashful expression. It’s as if they’re born knowing that no human can possibly resist the urge to pet a cat who shoots us this gaze.
2. Pet me because I need love right now!
Sin├®ad was an expert at this look, and she knew that if she looked at me with this glance, there was no way I’d say no.
3. Pleased to meet you
This friendly and outgoing cat at HART of Maine wore this expression whenever people came into his room, and he often followed it with mews, head-butts and purrs.
4. Oh, aaaaahhhh, that feels wonderful!
Dahlia always looked out through half-closed eyes with this expression of utter delight when Thomas groomed her.
5. ERMAGHERD KILL KILL KILL!
When a cat gets really jazzed up during a round of interactive play, you see this wild-eyed look.
6. Is it safe?
Kissy came to my home frazzled and stressed because of a difficult kittenhood and chronic pain that made her constantly fearful. I got a photo of this tentative expression about a month into her life with me.
7. Bow before me, peasant!
This expression might at first glance be taken for “pet me because I need love right now” until you notice the dilated pupils and full-on stare. My mother’s cat, Tinka, was an expert in this look.
8. Bored, bored, bored, bored …
There’s nothing sadder than a kitten in a house where no other kitties wants to play with her. Bella suffers this sad fate from time to time, and here’s one of her moments.
9. The stink-eye
Step aside, drag queens: Nobody can throw shade with the intensity and proficiency of a pissed-off cat. Here, Siouxsie has just awakened to realize that Dahlia is — gasp! — snuggled up next to her.
10. I love you
On the opposite end of the feline gaze spectrum from the stink-eye is the slow blink known by cat behaviorists as the “love blink.” When a cat closes her eyes and opens them slowly, she’s saying she feels safe and relaxed enough to let her guard down. If you get a love blink from your cat, be sure to return it.
What are your favorite feline phrases, as communicated by their eyes? Please share them (along with photos!) in the comments.
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About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their award-winning cat advice blog, Paws and Effect, since 2003.