December 11, 2023


People who say cats aren’t very expressive and are inconceivable to gauge simply don’t have a clue. A cat’s ears, eyes, physique posture and, specifically, her tail, specific precisely what she’s considering and the way she’s feeling. You simply must “pay attention” to cat tail language.

“Since cats are such completely different animals from us, understanding how they impart isn’t one thing that comes naturally to people,” says Kelly C. Ballantyne, D.V.M., D.A.C.V.B., medical assistant professor on the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in Urbana-Champaign. “It is vital that every one cat homeowners take the time to be taught as a result of understanding how cats talk helps us to grasp them higher. Once we all know their physique language, we will learn their feelings, determine conditions that trigger them misery or pleasure and even determine an sickness sooner.”

Once you’re taking the time to be taught and perceive cat tail language and notice that cautious examine of cat tail indicators is important to each your and your pet’s happiness within the dwelling, you’ll be amazed on the myriad — and really clear — indicators and feelings your feline companion shares with you.

Cat tail language: The fundamentals

Cats with their tails up.

What is your cat’s tail attempting to inform you? Photography ©Cynoclub | Thinkstock.

Thankfully, animal behaviorists like Dr. Ballantyne have performed exhaustive analysis to assist information pet homeowners to grasp the finer factors of cat tail language.

“Tails can transfer shortly or slowly,” she says. “A flicking or lashing tail indicators that the cat is agitated, whereas a slowly waving tail signifies the cat is targeted on one thing (i.e., about to pounce on a toy). “The tail-up posture — tail straight up with a slight curve on the finish — is a sign that the cat is approaching amicably,” Ballantyne continues. “This posture, witnessed amongst feline mates, is a typical means cats greet their people.

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“Cats might curve their tail round folks they’re bonded to and should intertwine their tails with different cats they’re bonded to. This is known as an affiliative conduct.”

“Cats tuck their tails beneath or subsequent to their physique when they’re feeling frightened. They usually are crouching with their heads tucked in on the identical time. We can also see these behaviors after they’re feeling ache.”

But studying cat tail language is like studying any overseas language: It takes time. If you might be new to cat tail indicators, you could be confused by what numerous tail actions and positions point out and inadvertently upset or confound your cat.

Petting your cat across the tail space

While studying cat tail language is a should for cat homeowners, really petting the cat across the space of the tail (the bottom of the tail or the tail itself) is just not appreciated by most cats, Ballantyne says. Rather, focus all petting and scratching across the chin and ears, she provides.

Further, if throughout a petting session your cat’s tail begins twitching or lashing, her ears are turning again or she’s leaning away from you, these all are indicators that your companion is finished with this interplay, Ballantyne explains. Cats share fairly clear messages about how they’re feeling at any given second with one in every of their most expressive physique elements. If you’re taking the effort and time to be taught cat tail language, you’ll be speaking tail like an professional very quickly, bringing you and your feline companion’s relationship to better understanding and happiness.

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How to answer cat tail language

1. Tail place: Upright, held excessive

A cat with an upright tail.

A cat with an upright tail. Photography ©Seregraff | Thinkstock.

    • What it means in cat tail language: Confident, completely happy
    • How it is best to act/react: Offer playtime, cuddles and treats.

2. Tail place: Curled on the prime like a query mark

A cat tail curled at the top.

A cat tail curled on the prime. Photography ©Photodisc | Thinkstock.

    • What it means in cat tail language: Friendly
    • How it is best to act/react: Offer your hand for sniffing and petting.

3. Tail place: Straight down

A cat with his tail down.

A cat together with his tail down. Photography ©Ekaterina Cherkashina | Thinkstock.

  • What it means in cat tail language: Agitated, feeling aggressive
  • How it is best to act/react: Don’t attempt to have interaction or pet her. Try to neutralize no matter is upsetting her.

4. Tail place: Curved beneath the physique

A cat with a curved tail underneath.

A cat with a curved tail. Photography by ©sakinder | Thinkstock.

  • What it means in cat tail language: Nervous and/or submissive
  • How it is best to act/react: Act nonchalant. Wait for her to return to you.

5. Tail place: Puffed

A black cat with a puffed or bottle brush tail.

A cat with a puffed tail. Photography ©GlobalP | Thinkstock.

  • What it means in cat tail language: Scared, agitated, offended
  • How it is best to act/react: Leave her alone!

6. Tail place: Whipping backwards and forwards

A gray cat with a whipping tail.

A cat with a whipping tail. Photography by Casey Elise Photography.

  • What it means in cat tail language: Fearful; offended, aggressive
  • How it is best to act/react: Best not attempt for high quality snuggle time with an offended cat.

7. Tail place: Swaying slowly back and forth/twitching

A black cat with a swaying tail.

A cat with a swaying tail. Photography by Casey Elise Photography.

  • What it means in cat tail language: Focused
  • How it is best to act/react: Let your captivated cat comply with her pursuits.
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The desk information to cat tail language

If a cat’s tail is… … it means she or he is
Upright Content
Up at a 45-degree angle Unsure
Angled again, shifting backwards and forwards “Good” excited or “fearful” excited (the ears and eyes might help decide which)
Upright, shifting backwards and forwards barely Happy
Upright, tip bent Friendly
Straight, virtually degree with the backbone Uneasy; not essentially afraid
Hanging down, with a dip close to the bottom Aggressive
Quickly swishing backwards and forwards Angry
Puffed Frightened
Down at a 90-degree angle Attack mode
Tucked between the legs Scared, probably experiencing ache
Sitting upright, tail tip is shifting Alert,

Tell us: Did we miss any cat tail indicators? How does your cat speak to you in cat tail language?

Thumbnail: Photography ©Tomwang112 | Thinkstock.

This piece was initially revealed in 2018. 

About the writer

Ellyce Rothrock spent half her life with Flea, a Maine Coon who lived to be 21 and is missed each single day. She’s presently looking for a feline buddy to handle Fritz and Mina, her German Shepherd Dog rescues. She’s fortunate sufficient to reside her ardour for pets as a 25-year member of the pet media trade.

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