What do Cats Communicate with Their Tails?: What you should know

Cats are mysterious creatures, and their tails are like a secret code that reveals their feelings and intentions. From the position of their tails to the way they move them, felines use their tails to communicate a wide range of emotions and messages.

In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of cat tail language, decoding the signals our feline friends send to us through this often-overlooked part of their anatomy.

Understanding the Basics: Tail Positions

The Upright Tail

When a cat holds its tail upright, it is a sign of confidence and happiness. This posture is typically seen when a cat greets its owner or encounters a fellow feline friend. An upright tail also suggests that your cat is content and in a friendly mood.

The Puffed-up Tail

A puffed-up tail is a clear indicator of a frightened or agitated cat. When a cat feels threatened or alarmed, it puffs up its tail to make itself appear larger and more intimidating. Understanding this tail position can help you avoid a cat's defensive reactions.

The Curled Tail

A cat with a gently curled tail is generally feeling friendly and approachable. This tail position often accompanies a relaxed and content cat. When your cat greets you with a softly curled tail, it's a sign of affection.

The Straight-out Tail

A tail held straight out indicates curiosity or alertness. Cats use this position when they are exploring their surroundings or focusing on something that has captured their attention. It's a sign that your cat is inquisitive about its environment.

Expressing Emotions: Tail Movements

Wagging Tail

Wagging tails are not always a sign of happiness in cats, as it is in dogs. When a cat vigorously wags its tail, it can be a signal of irritation or agitation. This movement often precedes a hiss or a swat, so it's essential to read the situation carefully.

Slow Twitching

Slow twitching of the tail can indicate excitement or anticipation. It's a common sight when a cat is watching birds or playing with a toy. Understanding this movement helps you engage your cat in playful activities.

Flicking Tail

A flicking tail can be a sign of annoyance. If your cat is flicking its tail while being petted or handled, it might be time to give it some space. This movement suggests that your cat is nearing its tolerance limit.

Tail Language in Context

Tail with Ears Back

When a cat combines a tail position with flattened ears, it signifies extreme agitation or anger. This is a clear warning that your cat is upset and may react aggressively if pushed further.

Tail Between Legs

Contrary to dogs, a cat tucking its tail between its legs isn't necessarily a submissive gesture. It often indicates fear or anxiety. In such cases, it's crucial to provide a secure and comforting environment for your cat.

Tail Lashing

A tail lashing from side to side is a sign of frustration or impatience. If your cat does this while waiting for its food, it's best to hurry up and feed them. This movement also happens when a cat is hunting prey and getting ready for the pounce.


Cats are enigmatic creatures, and their tails are a window into their emotions and thoughts. By paying attention to the position and movements of their tails, you can better understand your feline companion.

Remember that each cat is unique, and it may have its variations in tail language. Building a strong bond with your cat involves decoding their individual tail signals and responding appropriately.

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