7 Subtle Signs Your Cat is Angry With You

Certain displays mean you're in the dog house.


If your cat lashes out at you or hisses and growls, or if she’s swishing her tail back and forth, you know she’s not happy. But can you tell her mood by the state of her pupils? Or how her whiskers look? You might think your cat is apt to keep her emotions to herself, but the signs described here will let you know if she feels something’s amiss.

1|Pupil size. When the pupils — the black part of the center of the eye — dilate to the point that they block out most of your cat’s eye color, it can mean your pet is in fight or flight mode. Tread carefully.

2|Ear direction. If a cat is feeling threatened or uneasy, her ears may rotate. But if she’s flat-out angry, her ears will go flat out to the sides. Flattened ears could even signify she’s considering an attack.

3|The tail tells. A tail flicking back and forth could certainly mean your cat is in no mood — or ready to pounce. But a cat who holds her tail low while standing could be annoyed about something, too. It might not be the best time to reach out and try to stroke her.

4|Fluffy. If your cat is looking particularly puffed up, it means she’s angry. Making herself appear bigger is intended as an act of intimidation. Give her some space.

5|Purring. This is a hard one because purring so often means a cat is happy. But if a cat has exhibited other signs of stress and is purring, do not take it as a signal that all is well. It’s a signal that all is not okay, and the cat doesn’t want any more of your attention. Too many people end up with scratches in the mistaken belief that a purr always signifies calmness and contentment.

6|Staring at you without blinking. If a cat stares at you from a distance without breaking her gaze, she could be perceiving herself to be initiating confrontation. Oftentimes, that unwavering gaze means she’s mighty annoyed at you and wants to settle who has the upper paw.

7|Prominent whiskers. If a cat’s whiskers become prominent and the muscles of her face become tight, she may feel threatened and defensive. It’s definitely time to give her space.


  1. Dilated pupils— it means, as well, she’s taking the whole scene in. Slits: concentrating on one spot. Both can mean she’s unhappy with you.

    Jane Ehrlich
    Cattitude Feline Behavior

  2. My cat can be staring at me but if I blink at him and he blinks back all is well, especially if he offers a head butt.

  3. My cat attacks from behind. Bites and scratches. I have never hit or hurt her. She loves my husband. Will sit inhis lap and sleep next to him. I have usually been the one to fed and play with her. We are in our eighty’s and don’t want to get another cat. She is 5. House cat and fussy eater. Gets mad when you don’t follow thru with what she wants. We have had her since a baby and got her from the shelter. Would love advice.

  4. Would love to see people’s responses to your request about the 5 year old cat that bites and scratches. I have a cat about the same age that does it too. He wants his food on time and exactly the way he likes it. He doesn’t like it when he sees me putting on make up and knows that I am leaving the house. When I have guests there are those he immediately likes and those he doesn’t. With the latter he will hide or if not, he is likely to bite the guest if they try too hard to make up to him. I got him as a rescue cat when he was about five months old. When he is at his best, he is absolutely wonderful… attentive, cuddly, and cute. The other night I gave him less food than usual and in the middle of the night, he bit my cheek. He definitely wanted more food.

  5. Cat’s are very opinionated animals. I know mine 2 year old girl is. I just pick the battles. Yes, you get the food your way. No I will not tolerate nails out even in play. I tap her paws and she puts them away.

    if it is an indoor cat you may consider getting the nails capped. The leaving the room is very normal. Just let it be. Cat’s do better if the person is still and allows the cat to approach on it’s own terms. catching and chasing increases the threat in the cat’s eyes.

  6. Guess I am coming upon these signs too late, I had already renamed my 9yo female Lizzie Borden, or Elizabeth when she is naughty. I endured multiple bites and scratches to my hands and shins for a while. She still ‘snaps’ but I watch her body language more closely, when I am petting her she wants my full attention. If she is playing rough I tell her ‘soft paws’ and it works!!!!


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