Cat Facial Expressions and What They Can Tell Us

Cat Facial Expressions and What They Can Tell Us

As many cat lovers know, cats can do some hilarious and entertaining things. From chasing the laser beam to chattering at birds outside, cats can also keep us wondering just what is going on inside their cute, little heads. 

Just like humans, cats have many facial expressions. Where our expressions primarily come from the eyes, nose, and mouth, with cats, their facial expressions can also include their ears. However, true experts can distinguish a cat’s mood from just their face. While body language is a clear communicator, we can still learn a great deal from what our cats do with their faces. 

Cat Expressions

As with humans, cats can have many emotions and moods that they will show on their face at any given moment. Let’s take a look at some common ones. 


As pet parents, we already know the signs of fear in a cat. They will pin back their ears and their bodies will fluff up as they try to make themselves look bigger to discourage predators from attacking. However, we can also see fear in our cat’s facial expressions if we look closely enough. 

Fear is an easy emotion to notice in our cats. Their pupils will become very large. Cat eyes work very similarly to human eyes. When pupils widen, they allow in more light, which then lets cats see more and better. They do this, so they can see anything that might attack or hurt them. Their muzzle will usually stay neutral here, but they might twitch their nose as they try to scent the area (i.e. smell what’s out there). 


Anger is a very similar emotion to fear when it comes to the way our cat’s body reacts. They will become defensive, and usually their ears will be low on their heads. For facial expressions, cats will usually hiss in this scenario. When they do this, their eyes squint and their pupils are widened slightly. They show their teeth to help get rid of whatever is bothering them. 


This is what all of us cat parents strive for: to make our kitties the happiest creatures on the planet. And lucky for us, sometimes they let us know we have done a good job through their facial expressions. 

When a cat is happy, their muzzle and nose are neutral—no showing teeth as with anger. The big sign comes from their eyes. Cats that are happy will be comfortable enough to close their eyes. This happens when cats have respect for you and don’t fear that you will attack them. They might show this emotion after a big meal and as they are preparing for a lovely, afternoon catnap.


As with happiness, cats will show they are calm and not feeling playful usually with a lazy, sprawled out body. In this state, cats will have neutral noses and muzzles as well as having their pupils neither small or wide but somewhere in the middle. Their eyelids might seem to droop, but they aren’t preparing to sleep. They will just lazily gaze at their surroundings. This calmness might also be accompanied by purring. 

Final Thoughts

Cats have many facial expressions that expose their emotions. Some cats are more expressive than others, but in general, when they are feeling angry, fearful, happy, or calm, you can tell by their eyes and what the rest of their face is doing. The next time you hang out with your kitty, keep an eye on their face to see just how they are truly feeling. 


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