I feel like the reason certain dog-lovers insist cats are evil is because they read their body language as if they were dogs. So here’s a very basic guide to common “mean” things cats do that actually aren’t mean at all if you know what they’re thinking.
Rolling and exposing belly- attacks you when touched
Does not mean: Give belly rubs! - haha I tricked you!
Actually means: I’m playful! If you reach for my belly I’ll grab your arm and bite it because I think we’re playfighting!
Lazily exposing belly - still attacks when touched
Does not mean: tricked you again!
Actually means: I’m showing you my belly because I trust you. Please don’t break that trust by invading my personal space. I might accept a belly rub if I’m not ticklish and I know you well.
Snapping at you while being pet
Does not mean: I suddenly decided I dislike you!
Actually means: You’re petting me in a way that gives me too much restless energy. Please focus on petting my head and shoulders instead of stroking the full length of my back next time.
Is in the same room but makes no attempt to interact
Does not mean: I’m ignoring you
Actually means: We’re hanging out! I’m being respectful by giving you space while still enjoying your company.
Slapping/scratching your hand when you try to pet them
Does not mean: I hate you!
Actually means: You’ve failed to establish that we’re not playing, or the way you’re approaching me scares me. Be calmer, speak more gently, make eye-contact and blink slowly at me before you try again.