Cats have their own language, and a lot of us have no clue what they’re talking about. A new survey of 1,100 cat owners found that the majority of us misinterpret the body language signals our cats are giving off every day. That not only stresses the animals out, it also can cause them to lash out and scratch or attack people. So here are common cat moves explained:

  • First: If a cat is lying down with its belly exposed, don’t rub it. An exposed tummy is their way of showing trust. And if you touch it, you’re betraying that trust. You probably realized that the last time you went in for a belly rub, and it attacked your hand. Instead, give your cat a head rub or just talk sweetly to him.

  • When a cat approaches you with its tail up, its saying “hi.” And you can say “hi” back by patting their head and back.

  • Another cat move decoded: When a cat rubs against you, it’s not a sign of affection. It’s a sign of ownership. Your cat is spreading its scent. And whether you’ve been out all day or it’s the first time you’re meeting the cat, it’s doing it so you’ll smell like them.

  • You can tell a cat is happy if it slowly blinks. That means your cat feels safe. If you slowly blink back, it’ll show the cat you’re content and relaxed, too. And most importantly, not a threat.

  • And finally, what’s one of the most misinterpreted cat signals? Purring. A lot of us think that means a cat is content. But it can also be a sign of pain. So look for other signs of distress, like being withdrawn or if their personality changes. For example, if your normally quiet cat is suddenly noisy all the time, you should pay attention.