Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Cats > How Do Cats Show Submission? 5 Vet-Reviewed Gestures

How Do Cats Show Submission? 5 Vet-Reviewed Gestures

Two Maine Coon Kittens, Dominance & Submission, Shutterstock

Vet approved

Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Cats are very expressive when showing when they are either content or displeased with a situation. They use different parts of their bodies to express to humans and other animals how they feel in a situation. With cats, this can be done using their ears, tails, body position, and through different sounds.

But what about submission? How does a cat show that? Continue reading to learn about how cats show submission.


The 6 Ways Cats Show Submission

1. Lower body to the floor

If you notice cats who interact with other cats and are always responding by lowering their bodies down to the floor in a crouching manner, this means that they are acting submissively in the situation. Moving their body lower to the floor shows the other cat that they are not ready to fight. It’s a way to show they are small, timid, and submitting.

Two Cats playing outside
Image Credit: Christel SAGNIEZ, Pixabay

2. Show their tummy

Cats will also show submissive behavior when interacting with other cats (and sometimes their owners) by getting down low to the floor and rolling onto their side showing their tummy. This is a common behavior in some animals as the stomach area is very sensitive and houses all their important organs, so showing it to another animal shows that they are not a threat.

3. Tail down and between legs

Animals will also use their tails to express how they feel in a social situation. This behavior is more commonly known in dogs, but cats will also show this behavior when expressing their submission. Usually, when happy, a tail will be upright or slightly twitching to show happiness. Alternatively, if their tails are down, it means they are timid, shy, and submissive.

two cats, cat introduction, socialization, submission, submissive
Image By: Joanna Zaleska, Shutterstock

Image Credit: Danny Chang, Pixabay

4.  Flatten ears sideways

One of the easier ways to tell that a cat is showing submission is when they flatten their ears down closer to their heads and sideways. This is another way they use their bodies to make themselves appear smaller, less intimidating, and not a threat. It shows the other cat in the situation that they do not want to challenge them and are accepting the other’s dominance.

Submission and dominance, cat introduction, socialization, flat ears
Image By: slowmotiongli, Shutterstock

6. Avoid eye contact

Much like humans, more submissive cats will show their behaviors by avoiding direct eye contact. With many animals, direct eye contact is a way of challenging or threatening another. It is a way of showing that you are not backing down and will fight for dominance. When the alternative is done (not making eye contact), it shows the opposite; the cat is not challenging you and will submit.


In Conclusion

Cats are very wise animals who will use their sounds, like hissing and meowing, and their bodies, like whipping their tails or showing their tummies, to express whether they are being submissive or dominant in a social situation with other cats and humans. It is the way animals communicate whether they are accepting or denying a new furry friend and can also be seen as a way to decide on the alpha animal in a household.

Featured Image Credit: Eric Isselee, Shutterstock

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets