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4 Common Reasons Why Your Cat’S Ears Are Back

The ears of your feline buddy are, together with its tail and eyes, one of its most expressive features. The 32 muscles in each ear allow a cat to independently swivel, spin, and guide its hearing apparatus.

They do this to locate the source of the sound, but the location of their ears can also reveal a lot about how they feel.

If a cat's ears are pinned back, it's often because of hostility, fear, or rage. Keep in mind that every cat is unique, and that context is everything when interpreting body language cues like a cat's ears or tail. Examine your cat's behavior, the activity that led to the ailment, and its immediate surroundings.

You may find out more about the significance of your cat's erect ears and what other ear positions could mean by reading "4 Common Reasons Why Your Cat’s Ears Are Back" on BestForPets (bestforpets.org).

The 4 Reasons Your Cat's Ears Are Back:

1. Angry

A cat’s ears may flatten back for a number of reasons, but anger is a typical one. Continuing the behavior that is making you angry may result in you getting scratched or bitten.

In this case, your cat’s flattened ears are a warning that you may need to change your behavior if you are the cause of its anger.

2. Fighting

The ears of a cat are not only very sensitive and effective, but also prominent. As a result of their sensitivity, people often find themselves in harm’s way during fighting.

Consequently, felines will often fold their ears back against their skull to safeguard them from potential attacks.

3. Scared

Your cat’s ears may flatten when its flight-or-fight instincts kick in. Perhaps she’s about to get into a fight and needs them to be out of the way, or maybe she just wants them to be more aerodynamic so they can run faster. When your cat runs, you may protect its ears by pinning them back.

4. Playing

Cats’ play fighting is very similar to their actual fighting behavior. They utilize playtime to hone their abilities, thus it makes sense that they would pin their ears back in a mock battle to simulate a genuine battle.

Your cat’s ears are delicate, and even a playful nip or scratch might cause pain, so they need to be protected.

Why Do Cats' Ears Go Back When Playing?

If you’ve ever watched a cat playing with another cat, a dog, or even a human, you’ve probably noticed that they use many of the same movements and gestures that they would do in a genuine battle.

Because of this, it’s not always obvious when two cats are just playing or if they’re actually trying to fight. Due to the fact that your cat would do so in a real battle, they also do so when playing.

Other Ear Positions and What They Mean

It’s easy to think that a cat’s ears just sort of stick up wherever they seem to be when you first meet them, but if you pay close enough attention, you’ll find that they really assume a variety of different positions depending on the circumstances.

Some typical ear placements, as well as their associated feelings:

  • Natural – The typical posture of a cat’s ears is somewhat forward and slightly elevated. This is a positive indicator that your cat is at ease and satisfied since it allows them to better hear most sounds in their environment.
  • Upright – When your cat’s ears are perked up and pointing in an upward direction, it means it is deeply focused on something. It’s probably listening to try to identify the source and nature of a disturbance that caught its ear. The neighboring room will often fill with fishy aromas once a can of tuna is opened.
  • Twitching – Cats indicate displeasure or anxiety when their ears twitch. It’s at a loss for what to do, therefore the cat is probably going to leave the room or find a new perch.
  • Uneven – Your cat may be on the lookout for something or focused on a far-off sound if its ears are pointed in different directions.


Cats’ ears may convey a wide range of emotions. You can tell a lot about your cat’s mood by looking at their stance, provided you put it in the proper context. When the cat is in its natural position, it is calm and at ease, while perked ears indicate that it is paying close attention.

Having your cat’s ears back is typically an indication that it is feeling fearful, aggressive, or furious; nevertheless, some cats will adopt this posture even when they are only playing.

We hope you found interesting facts about cats’ ear positions in “4 Common Reasons Why Your Cat’s Ears Are Back” on BestForPets (bestforpets.org). Thank you for reading.

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Dr. Deborah Fletcher

Deborah R. Fletcher, DVM, is a skilled veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience dealing with companion and exotic animals. She has experience caring for a variety of animals, including household cats and dogs, reptiles, birds of prey, and even primates. Dr. Fletcher is a valuable part of the BestForPets team, where she contributes to their aim of providing pets and their owners with the finest possible treatment and services.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Deborah Fletcher


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