The "language" of cat ears provides much insight into a cat's feelings and intentions. Cat ears do more than just listen. The mechanisms of their ears are complicated, and the ear position can tell a lot. With practice and observation, you will surely notice patterns and have your cat's emotions revealed through the subtlest movement of their ears.
The neutral position is when a cat's ear is facing forward. This means that your cat is being a cat. This position mostly means that your cat is content and relaxed. There isn't any type of stress or discomfort from an unpleasant sound or sight.
When your cat has their ears in neutral, you can take advantage of its friendly demeanor. Now is the perfect time to give extra affection (with caution!) by stroking their fur.
Ears Straight Up
Cats are creatures of curiosity. When their ears are in this position, they have questions, such as, "what's that noise?" "who's there?" "what's happening?" And because of their constant need to pay attention, we all see the timeless "straight up and forward" ear position every time.
A cat with this ear position is alert and is gathering auditory information to react quickly. Watchful cat moms and dads should remember that a cat with ears straight up and forward is on guard.
Cats may be unable to utter their feelings like humans, but they communicate with body language. One of the usual ways a cat expresses itself is through ear twitching. This can be seen when a cat's ears rotate rapidly in sudden movements, which typically means that they are in hunting mode.
It may also be because your cat has an itch caused by ear termites or a few underlying health problems. If you observe this a lot on your cat, it's best to have them looked at by a vet.
Flat and On the Side or Backwards
When a cat's ears are flat and turned to the side or the back, it generally means they're scared or feeling intimidated. This ear position is because your cat feels scared (flat) but alert (forward). It tells us they are nervous, which may lead to aggressive actions if space is not given. This position is also often described as "airplane mode," which suggests the cat is preparing to flee.
In these situations, you must provide some distance and privacy so your cat can cool down and not feel vulnerable. Your cat may hide until they feel safer—give your cat a chance to get away without incident. Giving a frightened cat alone time allows them to know that you understand and honor how they're feeling.
When understanding your cat, the ears may be the key! Body language tells us so much about a cat's state of mind, and being aware of such nuances is advantageous for both the cat and the cat parent.
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