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Cat Tail Language: What It Means and How to Handle It

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Do you know how to read and decode your cat's tail body language? It’s an essential cat parent skill. While your cat can't talk, they provide clues to help you understand what they're communicating.

Your cat relies on an array of body language to get your attention. In particular, your cat's tail position provides one of the most significant insights into what your cat is feeling. Cats tend to have different tail movements to express different needs or emotions. But all tail movements have different meanings.

To help you decipher your cat's tail movements, here are some tips to help clue you into what your cat may be saying:


1. Upright Tail/ Hooked Tail

Sometimes your cat's tail looks like a hook or a question mark—it stands upright and curls at the end. This indicates happiness and confidence. It's an indication that your cat may be approaching amicably and an invitation for interactions, a good time to pet or play with them.

2. Tail Quivers

Tail quivers signify excitement, especially when your cat is excited to see you or another cat/pet—their tails quiver to signal readiness for interaction. You'll also notice them rubbing their face on you or other cats, purrs and happy meows.

3. Flicking/ Lashing Tail

If your cat suddenly thrashes their tail or thumps it on the ground, they are agitated or angry. Something might be bothering them. Give them some space and make the environment cat-friendly.

4. Twitching the End of the Tail

Cats may twitch the end of their tails when playing, hunting or when slightly upset and frustrated. You'll need to carefully watch your cat, read their mood and act accordingly.

5. Waving or Swishing Tail

Quick swishing indicates that your cat is intently stalking or focused on something like a toy, something outside like a bird, etc., and they may be about to pounce on the subject. Such predatory behavior is a good source for cat enrichment.

On the other hand, slow swishing may indicate irritation. You may need to give your cat some space.

6. Wrapping Tail

Tail wrapping demonstrates a willingness to interact and affection. Your cat may occasionally display love by wrapping their tail around your hand, arm or neck.

7. Puffed Out Tail

Also known as the Halloween-cat posture, cats fluff up their tail when they feel frightened, triggered, startled or in danger by a sudden, severe threat. As a defensive tactic, your cat will also puff their tail and arch their back to appear larger and scarier. Give your kitty some space and eliminate provocative triggers to decrease the occurrence of cat stress and aggression.

8. Low Wagging or Tail Held Low to the Ground

When frightened or anxious, your cat may lower and wag their tail below their back. Besides, if your cat's tail is tucked between their legs or curled around the body, they may be frightened or experiencing some pain, defensive or feeling unwell.

They may also pin back their ears and crouch their body low to the ground when lying down. If such tail movements persist, visit your veterinarian to rule out pain, stress or illness.

9. Quick Twitch

Usually short and fast, your cat may quickly twitch their tail to imply concentration. This can commonly be seen when watching something through the window ad may involve cat sounds.

10. Sleep Twitch

Your cat may twitch their tail when sleeping. In such a case, they're most likely entering the REM phase of dreaming and are trying not to wake up. Don't wake up your cat. The REM stage is followed by deep sleep, which is crucial for your cat's health and wellbeing.

Although cats communicate using other body parts and sounds, your cats' tail is one of the most communicative parts of their body language. Now that you know how to read and interpret your cat's tail language, you can better understand and interact with your cat. 

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