Cat Behaviour

What Your Cat’s Tail Behaviour Tells You About Their Mood

Although cats’ personality varies, careful observation of your cat’s tail behaviour can be life changing for you and your feline’s happiness at home. Their tail expresses exactly what is going on inside their head. This serves as an excellent indicator of the feline’s mood.

Do take note that dog‘s tail behaviour does not apply to the cats family. To summarize it, a friendly dog will wag its tail, while cats do it when they are angry. 

As they are such different mammals from us, understanding how cats communicate is not something natural to us humans. Learning this mesmerizing language will be like learning a foreign language. Take some time to observe your cat’s tail behaviour and you will start to understand what their tail is conveying. For a better insight, consider their whole body language.

Without further ado, let’s dive into what your cat’s talkative appendage means!

Here are 12 of your cat tail’s behaviour that tells them about their mood

1. Tail high and upright 

Photo by Bruce Kee on Unsplash

Their tail will stick high up in the air as they maneuver about their territory. It is a clear sign of confidence as well as their willingness to be amiable. Go ahead and let them give a sniff of your hand before petting them. This interaction goes both ways. On your feline’s part, they are gladly exposing their genital region for you to have a friendly sniff under their tail so you can know them better. This is the best time for happy interaction with cuddles and treats!

The little bent at the tip of their tail expresses their utter contentment at that moment. This posture is often witnessed when cats are greeting their humans. A quivering tail is even better! This shows that they are a bit too excited about meeting you or the people you are with. Shaking tail also means they are thrilled with anticipation for something they enjoy such as feeding time. Meanwhile, doing the little quiver while backing up against a wall have one and only unpleasant definition: they are urine marking.

2. Question mark curve

You might want to take a break from whatever you are doing to engage in an interactive exercise with your feline if you see this small hook at the end of your cat’s erect tail, as this signals they are ready to play hunt with their favourite toys. These particular minutes are when they will be most responsive for a happy playtime, so take advantage of their playful mood while it lasts!

3. Tail up at 45-degree 

Kitties are not sure how to feel about the situation at hand. They are neither threatening nor welcoming, bordering between being a companion or enemy. You may see this happening when introducing them to a new place as they inspect every corner of the house with slight suspicion. Talk to them with soft reassurance. When they open up and start coming to you voluntarily, you might as well have just made a new friend!

4. Tail up, behind and away from body

Image by Alois Wohlfahrt from Pixabay 

Cats having their tail in this position while twitching from side to side speaks to you of their indifference towards your presence. To put it simply, they don’t care to respect you or whatever it is they are encountering. 

5. Tail down at 90 degree angle

This position of your cat’s tail is either straight behind their body or with a slight curve. This can mean either good or bad. They will do it when they are curious or interested to know what’s going on. Or should it be the other way around, it means they are quite uncertain and well ready to attack… hopefully not you 😂

6. Low Tail

A stiff tail in a straight down position with a tensed body may sign an uncertainty or aggression. Your cat is harboring a pretty serious mood. Don’t bother being friendly with them as they are most likely to gift you a beautiful scratch on your arm. What you should do instead, is try to solve the matter that is upsetting them. However, keep in mind, certain breeds, particularly Scottish Fold and Persian, have the tendency to naturally carry their tail low despite relishing in a relaxed or happy state.

7. Tail tucked away

Image by creisi from Pixabay 

Tail curling next to or under a cat’s body signals submission or fear. This will come with a crouch of their body and their head tucked. Something within your cat’s environment is causing your cat to be in a state of distress. If you see their tail hooking in between their legs and covering their private part, this is highly a defensive sign. Depending on the perceived threat, they are also inclined to exhibit aggression. But this could mean they are enduring pain. Be sure to bring them for a checkup at your nearest veterinary clinic

Image by Isa KARAKUS from Pixabay 

Similarly, tail hiding under the belly expresses the feeling of submissiveness. Approaching them head-on might not be the appropriate step, as it may drive them deeper into the corner you never knew existed. Just be nonchalant. Do something else in the same area while letting them get used to your smell. Slowly but gradually, they will come to you ❤️️

8. Puffed up tail a.k.a Halloween cat

Image by Gerhard G. from Pixabay 

A bristling cat’s tail may look like a spiky pipe cleaner, with their arched back which reflects an awful agitation. This kind of fearful cat attempts to appear larger by having their hair standing on end (piloerection) to fend off the threat coming their way. There are various triggers to cause this kind of reaction, such as sudden noises, animals approaching or visitors in your home. This body expression is commonly joined with hissing, growling, and/or bared sharp teeth. Most times, they will seek to flee the situation, but are prone to lashing out if they feel cornered. Do not try to do anything. It is very much preferable that you leave them alone to reign in their overly stimulated system.

9. Lashing tail a.k.a Cranky cat

Cats guardian must have seen this almost everyday in their companionship with felines. You might have pet them too much and they start slapping their tail back and forth in rapid movement. This is usually accompanied by their eyes swerving back and them leaning away from you. This indicates both irritation and anger if not fear. They are telling you to “Back off!”. Consider doing exactly that unless you prefer the imminent nip from those sharp canines 😉

10. Swishing or twitching tail

Sometimes, you will spot your kitty making a languid sway with their tail from side to side. This typically implies your cat has a firm focus on an object. They are extremely intrigued by something. This cat’s tail behaviour is most commonly seen right before they pounce on a ‘prey’ or we could say… their toys. Engaging in predatory activities like stalking and pouncing is beneficial for your cats as this fulfills their raw need for hunting. Expose them more to attention captivating views and your kitties will be the most joyful felines!

11. Tapping or moving tail while napping

This type of cat’s tail behaviour demonstrates relaxation and peace, but constant alertness to the stimulation around them. Their eyes are closed, but all their senses are tuned in, mostly to sounds. 

Video by Hitoshi Katsumata from Pixabay 

For the instance when they are truly in deep sleep, a cat’s tapping tail should mean they are having a dream. On the other hand, curling their tail around themselves while snoozing tells us nothing more than the fact they are purely content, more so when the cat eyes are half closed, complemented by the softest purr

12. Tail snaking around you or other cat (a.k.a Affiliative behavior)

When you see your furry friend wraps their tail around the cat next to them, or having them doing it to yourself, this sight is an affection of camaraderie. They are greeting you in a cat’s way, just like a handshake or hug between humans!

Now that we have debunked the infamous myth of cats being inexpressive animals, do you think you can understand your kitties better? 

It is crucial that all cat guardians use some time to study cat’s ‘tail talk’ because comprehending how felines communicate helps us to know them better. Once we grasp their body language, we can inspect their emotions, thus determine situations that contribute to their pleasure or distress, even as far as identifying an illness which might spare them more years!


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By admin

Hepicheek is a home-based cat boarding in Puchong (Malaysia) that focuses on giving the best care for furry friends in our safe haven 🏡 In the years to come, we aim to provide a foster home for stray cats in need on top of helping busy owners caring for their pets ❤️️

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