Cat’s Tail: What the Movements Really Mean

Not only does your cat keep its balance with its tail – the cat’s tail is also an important means of communication. You can find out what she wants to say here.

Together with their body language, cats can communicate with one another with their tails. And with the help of this article, you, too, can understand the importance of the movements and positions of the cat’s tail.

Let’s start with a few facts about the cat’s tail – it’s an exciting part of the body. Depending on the breed, it consists of 19 to 23 vertebrae, which corresponds to around ten percent of all bones in the cat’s body. In conjunction with numerous muscles, tendons, and ligaments, they ensure that the cat’s tail is so mobile – and can also be used for communication, among other things.

And that’s exactly what is exciting for cat owners, says veterinarian Dr. Kelly Ballantyne to Catster magazine. “If we know their body language, we can read their feelings, identify stressful situations and even recognize illnesses more quickly.” Because depending on how a cat moves or holds its tail, this indicates different moods and feelings:

Straight, Erect Cat’s Tail

When your kitty stretches her tail straight up, she seems content and happy. “The erect cat’s tail is a sign that the cat is approaching amicably,” says the vet. With this posture, the velvet paws would often greet bipeds. And they then react best by accepting the invitation and playing, cuddling, or pampering them with a treat.

Cat’s Tail With a Bent Tip

It looks very similar when the cat has raised its tail, but the tip is slightly curved or kinked and, for example, reminds of a question mark. This is also a sign that the cat is basically friendly at the moment. Then offer her a hand so she can sniff you.

Why Does My Cat Wrap Its Tail Around Me?

We humans usually shake hands in greeting – well, at least before the corona pandemic. Cats also like to have body contact when they greet their fellow cats and intertwine their tails. If your cat does the same for you, and for example hugs its tail around your leg, it shows that it is sociable and that it wants interaction, according to the magazine “PetMD”.

Bushy Cat Tail

But there are also very clear signs that you should keep your distance. This includes an erect, bushy, fluffed tail. Keyword: Halloween cat. If so, the kitty is likely either scared or upset and angry. If you then get closer to her, your velvet paw could see it as a danger. Then she may react aggressively.

What Does It Mean When the Cat Wraps Its Tail Around Its Body?

Do you sometimes notice that your cat hugs its tail very close to its body when it is lying or sitting? That, too, tends to indicate problems. Then your puss is very likely to be scared or submissive. Or she feels uncomfortable and may even be in pain. In such moments you should therefore give your velvet paw-some rest and wait until it is looking for you again on its own initiative.

If your cat often shows this tail position or maybe even clamps its tail between its hind legs, you should take it to the vet to see if it is in pain or has an illness.

Even a very lowered cat’s tail can indicate fear and stress in your cat.

When Cats Wag Their Tails

In addition to these more static postures, cats also move their tails – and use them to communicate different things. “Cattails can move quickly or slowly,” says Dr. Kelly Ballantyne. “If it snaps or whips, it shows that the cat is excited, while a slowly swaying tail indicates that your cat is focusing on something.”

Sometimes the cat’s tail trembles downright. Then she may be particularly happy to see you or other cats. Some kitties also tremble with their tails when they mark their territory with their urine.

In addition to the postures and movements of the tail, you should of course generally pay attention to the body language of your cat. Then the emotions become even clearer, for example when a bushy tail is accompanied by hissing and a tense posture. Understanding what cats can express through their tails is often a helpful first step towards better understanding kitties overall.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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