Cat Tail Language: Complete Guide

You can learn a lot about your favorite pet from the way it moves its tail. Look for the tail - tell signs of your feline to understand the cat tail language. This article will help you in understanding the various ways your cat is communicating with you with just a swish of its tail.

A cat’s tail is actually immensely communicative, thanks to its flexibility. A cat tends to show the emotion and mood this way. You just need to be able to read the signs properly.

Cat Tail Language

How to Read Cat Tail Language

You have seen many types of tail movements on your cat. It can be raised up or down, swish from side to side, move quickly or slowly or curl around, among other movements. And apart from these movements, how the hair stands can also be an indicator of your cat’s mood. The hair can bristle up like a brush or lay flat, and these two mean different things all together.

So how do you read the cat tail language? Here is a basic guideline.

Straight Up

This is the sign of a content and friendly cat. Usually, your cat tail stands up when it’s around you, a sign that you are amiable to it. Mother cats tend to move their tail straight to lead her kittens around. Similarly, when kittens run up to their mother, their tails will go straight up as well. So a straight up is a good and positive sign.

Raised Back with an Angle

This means your cat is unsure or confused about something but in a non-threatening way. Your cat is most likely to do these when new visitors come to your house. Usually, after a sniff or two, your cat will raise its tail straight up showing friendliness, if they pass the cat test.

Raised Up and Swishing

If your cat is swishing its tail largely and dramatically, it generally means your cat is upset or wants to be left alone. This is a derisive attitude. Your cat will most likely do this when it moves past you in acknowledgment. Your best bet will be to leave your cat alone for the time being if this is what the cat tail language is telling you. Some people call this the Forget You or So What move as the cat is not looking for your love or affection at the moment.

Straight Up and Quivering

This is a very good sign as it means your cat is excited to see you. It is a friendly greeting which you are likely to get when you walk through your front door at the end of the day or when you get up from the bed in the morning.

Similarly, a cat might pull its tail forward over its back when it is very excited to see you. This behavior might seem bizarre to you, but this makes sense to the cats, it is their way of inviting us to sniff the anal glands as this is their way of being friendly.

Raised Up and Hooked At the Tip

When a cat’s tail is raised and hooked at the tip like a question mark, it means your cat is confused about something. Your cat is not antagonistic at this moment but is not sure of something either.

Tail Held At Horizontally Behind

This position is kind of neutral and can mean a few feelings of your cat. Your cat might be feeling alerted, confident, amicable or relaxed. It will depend on the situation at hand and also on the rest of your cat’s body language movements. This cat tail language is hard to decipher, and you should progress with caution.

Tail Hook at the Base

This can also be depicted as a horseshoe and inverted U tail. This movement means defensive aggression. In this case, your cat’s tail will be bristled as well in general. You are more likely to encounter this behavior on your cat at the end of the day when it has the Kitty Crazies. Your cat might do this if it’s feeling feisty about something or another cat has angered it, and arch its back and crab walk a bit.

Tail Thrashing

This could mean a lot of things, and you need to look at another body language of your cat to decipher the proper meaning. A thrashing tail sweeping from side to side can signal any of following things in its distinctive cat tail language –

  • Intense interest or focus on something. Usually, before your cat is getting ready to pounce on its prey.
  • Anger if the tail is thrashing loudly on the ground.
  • An invitation for another cat to play with.
  • High aggression or excitement if the tail thumps around violently.
  • Ecstasy if your cat is enjoying a grooming session.

Low and Straight

If your cat is holding its tail down and diagonally, it is probably feeling aggressive or is it very likely to get ticked off soon. For knowing what it actually turns into, read the other body languages of your cat.

Twitching Tip

Sometimes only the tip of your tail will twitch, and this usually signals that your cat is concentrating on something that is interesting to it, like a bird or mouse outside. Your cat might also twitch its tail if it is playing or approaching its prey. This cat tail language means your cat is interested in something and you should not interfere in this situation.

Twine Tail

Your cat will twine or curl around its tail around itself, other cats, other objects or even you and it is one of the best gestures your cat can show you. It is the friendly way of your cat telling you that you are its property. This cat tail language is the best of all the tail movements as it shows its affection towards you. It might also mean your cat is trying to convince you to give it something it wants, like food or your attention.

Bristled Hair

If your cat’s tail is puffed up like a brush, you can be pretty sure that your cat has gone defensively aggressive upon feeling threatened. The cat tail might bristle if it is scared, startled or angered by other cats. Your cat might try to escape the situation, but will also be ready to defend and pounce if necessary. When your cat’s tail bristles, it is meant to make it appear bigger from the aggressor to leave it alone. This cat tail language can come in handy when your cat is super angry as it tells you to extract yourself from this situation. You don’t deserve your cat’s wrath which is clearly meant towards some other cats or something else.

Between the Legs

This is a submission signal from your cat that is trying to convey that it wants to be left alone or is upset about something. Opposite of the bristled tail, a submissive tail is meant to make the cat appear smaller and less threatening to another aggressive cat. The cat tail language is telling you to stay away from it as the cat is upset and is not up for a play time with you. Let your cat handle the situation and then proceed carefully.

Whipping

If your cat is whipping its tail back and forth in a rapid manner, it can be the signal of either fear or aggression. You should take it as a warning sign. The best possible action at this moment will be to stay away. Cat tail language can help you in such aggressive situations where you are risking your precious face and exposed body parts to the vicious nails if you don’t know the mood your cat is in and end up attempting to squish it with affection.

Positioned Low

Your cat is in a very serious mood if its tail is positioned straight now as it can signal aggression. However, it might vary depending on the breed of the cat as Persians tend to carry and go around with their tails low for no apparent reason. Persian cats are not angry when their tails are bent low; it is natural for them.

Curved Tail

Cats with a curved tail can be scary. Stay away from such signals as it means the cat is about to get really aggressive and should be dealt with caution. It also means your cat is aggressive and is trying to appear bigger and scarier. Your best action will be to stay far away from it if you don’t want to get scratched horribly all over your face and body parts.

The cat tail language is a very interesting and fun thing to know about your cat. The tail movements give you enough signals to understand the mood and emotions of your cat and approach accordingly. You can bond more positively if you pay attention to your cat’s tail movements.

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