RSPCA Bolton Branch

Registered Charity No. 232243


Understanding cat behaviour

Understanding cat behaviour


Just like us, cats can experience a range of emotions – the problem is, they can’t tell us. Therefore, as owners we need to understand cat behaviour as a way to understand if we have a happy cat, a scared cat, or an angry cat.

It’s essential to understand the body language of our pets in order for them to live happy and healthy lives with us. If not, we risk our pets being unhappy for some, or even all of their lives.

Once you understand your cat’s emotions, if you notice a change in his or her behaviour, it’s vital you take the right steps to make sure they’re happy and healthy. If you’re worried about your cat please contact your vet for advice.

An introduction to cat behaviour

Hiding cat © RSPCA

Every cat is an individual, so every pet will have slightly different behaviour, which means that there’s no ‘one size fits all’ guide to a cat’s emotional well-being.

Spend time with your cat and get to know what’s normal behaviour for them. That way when something’s wrong, it may be easier to spot.

Do remember that cats (and pets in general) don’t always make it obvious when something is wrong. You’ll need to be observant of your cats behaviour to notice changes.

Tell tale signs:

  • High levels of grooming, hiding, sleeping hunched or altered feeding/toileting habits as well as spraying indoors can indicate stress or fear
  • Unwanted habits such as aggression, spraying indoors, disappearing or avoiding people all suggest your cat may be in pain or frightened.

Any change in behaviour may mean your cat is either distressed, bored or injured. If you’re concerned speak to your vet and they might refer you to a cat behaviourist

Our cat behaviour guide

We’ve created a cat behaviour guide to recognise the body language signals and help you get to know what your cat could be feeling