Why Does My Cat Put His Ears Back?

Affiliate Disclaimer

As an affiliate, we may earn a commission from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links on this website from Amazon and other third parties.

Cats express themselves through the motions of their ears in addition to using them to hear potential prey and predators. The way a cat feels may be discerned by how his ears move. When a cat’s ears are fanned back, it typically shows some emotional annoyance or distress.

When a cat’s ears are pinned back, it indicates hostility, fear, or rage. Your cat may do it when fighting or playing with other cats. Moreover, he is probably attempting to communicate with you if the cat’s ears are flat against his head. In addition, various positions of the cat’s ears indicate multiple emotions.

Read on to find out why a cat puts his ear back.

Why Does Your Cat Put His Ears Back?

Cats have an enormous range of ear motions since they have approximately 30 muscles in their ears. So, the context must be considered when attempting to read the position of your cat’s ears. You can do this by analyzing your cat’s behavior and what he was doing to generate the movement in his body and surroundings. However, it’s crucial to remember that every cat is unique, so the meaning of one ear position may vary for a different cat.

Avoiding physical contact with your cat when his ear is pinned back is best. This is because he may be in a state of fear or anger, leading him to attack you by scratching.

So, here’s what you need to know about why your cat puts his ears back.

  • Your Cat is Angry

Being furious is among the most frequent causes of a cat’s ears flattening back. If the cat continues with his anger-inducing behavior, it may result in biting or scratching the source of the behavior. If you are the cause of the issue, flattened ears indicate that you should quit doing what is causing your cat angst.

  • Something Got Your Cat Scared

Your cat’s ears will likely pin back when he is in fight or flight mode. It generally kicks in when he senses danger or any threat. For example, he may be preparing for a fistfight and wants to keep his ears out of the way. It may also be done to make things more efficient and make him move quickly in the fight. If you want to keep your cat’s ears from getting hurt while sprinting, pin them back.

  • The Fighting Instinct is Full on in Your Cat

Although they stick out from the skull, a cat’s ears are extraordinarily sensitive and highly effective. Therefore, when a cat gets into a fight with fellow felines, he is vulnerable and on the receiving end of the torment. The cat will hold his ears close to his head to keep them safe from damage and guard them against being bitten or scratched. However, you can opt for the Comfort Zone Cat Calming Diffuser to prevent fights in your cats and keep them safe.

  • Your Cat is Being Playful

Cats replicate many gestures and movements they would use in actual fights while having fun. They practice and perfect their abilities during playing. So, when they pretend to fight, cats pin their ears back like they would if they were in a genuine faceoff. Your cat may need to guard its delicate ears since even a play bite or scratch to the head might harm them.

What is the Natural Position of Ears in Cats?

Understanding the normal position of your cat’s ears can help you understand when your cat is feeling good. It will also let you know when something is wrong and it’s time to act. The usual posture of a cat’s ears is forward-facing and partially upright.

This makes it possible for cats to hear most sounds around them equally. It also indicates that your cat is at ease and satisfied.

Various Positions of Cat Ears and Their Meaning

Here are some typical positions of a cat’s ears and what they generally mean.

  • Uneven (One Up and One Down or Tilted)

Your cat is likely keeping an eye out for something or focusing on a distant sound if his ears are facing in various directions, often with one ear up and one ear down. Cats’ ears can move independently, so they might feel confused if the ears come to rest in discordant postures. It’s best to make your cat feel calm in such situations.

  • Pointing Forward

Your cat’s ears might be slightly cocked back or to one side. In this case, the ears are in a soft posture that sets them apart from the next position, which has upright, forward-facing ears. So, when your cat’s ears are in this position, he feels calm and relaxed. You can pet him at this time to make him feel even better.

  • Erect and Forward or Swiveling

If you find your cat’s ear erect and forward, know he is attentive and interested in something. The rotating ears might be listening for a sound, like a satellite receiver. It might be a fantastic opportunity to play with your cat’s favorite toy and grab his attention.

  • Positioned Sideways or Backward

When your cat has a sideways-positioned or backward ear, he probably feels irritated or hyperactive. Fear or anxiety can also trigger this reaction in cats. As a result, the ears might flutter or twitch. Perhaps it’s time to quit stroking him or playing with the current toy.

Take a quick look at various cat ear position and their meanings.

Cat Ear PositionWhat Does It Imply?
A little to the front and tilted toward the sideFeeling relaxed and content
Straight upAlert or intrigued by something
Twitching or moving back and forthAngry, nervous, or sensing a sound


How your cat has positioned his ears can reveal much about his feelings. Cats may put their ears back for various reasons. However, you can easily identify by their demeanor. For instance, playing cats and angry cats show different reactions, which you should be able to differentiate. However, consult a professional veterinarian if you find anything unusual about your cat’s ears.

Latest posts

  • Can Cats Eat Oranges?

    Can Cats Eat Oranges?

    A common question cat parents often have is, can cats eat oranges? No, cats shouldn’t be fed oranges! Giving your cat oranges could be one of the worst decisions to make. Oranges are poisonous to […]

    Read more

  • How to Introduce a New Cat to My Home?

    How to Introduce a New Cat to My Home?

    Although it might sound exhilarating to introduce a new feline friend to your household, it involves considerable responsibility and effort. As a cat parent, you will need to take much into consideration before you introduce […]

    Read more

  • Is Milk Really Bad for a Cat?

    Is Milk Really Bad for a Cat?

    Are you wondering if is milk bad for cats? Although it is a common practice to leave milk out for stray cats, the reality is that milk is not suitable for adult cats. Like human […]

    Read more

  • The Best Way to Introduce Yourself to a Cat

    The Best Way to Introduce Yourself to a Cat

    When introducing yourself to a prospective feline friend, it is essential to consider their unique behavior and body language. Respecting a cat’s boundaries and preferences is paramount to establishing rapport and trust with your feline […]

    Read more