Tail straight up, low swaying tail, tail between the legs… cats have an endless variety of tail positions, and each and every one of them has a specific meaning, sends out some coded message. It’s how they talk with the world around them, with us!
You may think your cat ignores much of the world around it and is mostly deep in feline thought, but the truth is that they are constantly communicating with us and the other cats in the immediate vicinity. One of the ways cats ‘talk’ to us is with their tails.
Knowing what the various movements of a cat’s tail mean can be a very useful thing. It can tell you whether the cat is well or not, whether it feels like playing, is afraid or, for whatever reason, is simply a bit on edge.
- TAIL STRAIGHT UP: all’s well with the world, the cat is confident and happy to see us! It also means that the cat wants all of our attention and would love a cuddle and a good scratch under the chin.
- VIBRATING TAIL: utter and complete happiness! Your cat loves you and is thrilled. If you look closely you’ll see it blink at you with the sweetest of expressions, happy with all the petting we can offer.
- TAIL STRAIGHT OUT or WRAPPED AROUND: relax, take it easy! The cat is chilling, calm and peaceful. She’ll let us do just about anything to her without batting an eye!
- WHIPPING TAIL: watch out! All hell is about to break loose! Step back and leave the cat alone. Better yet, go to another room!
- SWISHING TAIL: an ambush is imminent! If the tail swishes back and forth quickly it could mean anger. But if the cat is crouched on the ground and its hips are moving quietly left and right, then it’s getting ready to pounce on some poor prey!
- LOW TAIL BETWEEN THE LEGS: yikes! The cat has been frightened and the best thing right now is to stay reassuringly nearby but let her be, neither touch nor pick her up.
- CURLED TAIL AND HUNCHED BACK: agitation levels to the stars! The cat feels danger is near, she is afraid and is preparing to defend herself from the enemy!
- PUFFED TAIL: I’m in charge here! When cats raise the hair on their tails and backs they are trying to intimidate the adversary. Move slowly, don’t underestimate the possibility of an attack!
So, what position is your cat’s tail in?