What Your Cat’s Tail is Telling You

Cats can’t understand human speech – although they may eventually realize what “get off the counter” means – but they can communicate with you. Discern your cat’s current state of mind by observing his or her tail.

Straight Up Tail

When Kitty’s tail is straight up as she strides, she’s a happy girl. When a cat approaches carrying his tail high, he’s confident and probably friendly. This is often the way a cat greets their person at the door when they come home. If the cat holds its tail straight with a bent tip, that’s an overture to playing or cuddling.

Straight Down Tail

On the other hand, a cat holding their tail straight down is not a happy camper. Such a position shows stress, agitation, or aggression. If the tail is down at a 90-degree angle, that’s the prelude to attack mode.

If your cat is holding his tail straight down, it’s best to leave him alone until his mood changes.

Swishing Tail

Warning, warning. Dogs wag their tales to indicate joy. A cat swishing his tail back and forth rapidly is the opposite. This is an angry feline. If their tail is going back and forth slowly, that’s a sign of keen interest. You’ve probably noticed the slow tail movement just before he pounces on a toy or prey.

Puffed-Up Tail

When a cat puffs up her tail, she’s likely got her ears flat again her head, back arched, and if she’s not yet hissing, that’s next. A puffed-up tail indicates a very mad cat. This is often a defensive posture if the cat feels threatened by a dog, another feline, or any dangerous situation. He’s trying to make himself appear larger to counter the perceived threat.

Try to protect the cat from whatever is scaring them, but realize they’re not in a state for being picked up and held. 

Quivering Tail

When a cat’s tail quivers, he’s excited about something. Maybe it’s you or another person, another cat, or whatever stimulates him at that moment.

Tail Wrapped Around the Body

A cat whose tail is wrapped around his body when sitting, crouching, or lying down isn’t feeling quite right. Maybe she’s sick or in pain, or perhaps she’s frightened or defensive. In such instances, the head is generally tucked in. This is not a time to bother her. If the tail wrapping continues for any length of time, take the cat to the vet for an evaluation.

Tail Curved Beneath the Body

Cats sitting with their tail curved beneath their body are not sure about their next move. They are a little nervous, but it’s not an aggressive posture. Kitty just has to figure out what’s going on. Don’t go toward a cat sitting this way. Instead, wait for him to feel confident enough to come to you.

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