Furry Personal Barometers: The Truth About Cat Tails

Cat tails are trying to tell you something.


People depend on verbal communication to understand each other, but body language is a huge part of eye-to-eye conversations. Even though we constantly process and synthesize information from others, confusion and miscommunications occur all the time. So, if we aren’t that great at understanding other humans, how can we expect to learn verbal and nonverbal cues from a whole separate species?

Felines, for example, use various vocalizations to communicate, but amazingly, cat tails are equally helpful indicators.

The Decode Button

Cats are quite adept at making lots of different noises. From purring and yowling to moaning and chattering, their sounds can be directly connected to certain feelings or moods. Similarly, their eyes, mouths, and ears are all excellent indicators. You pretty much know when a cat is happy, angry, or hurting simply based on their body language.

Strange Motions of Cat Tails

Their tails can tell us how cats are feeling or dealing with the world around them. In fact, most cat owners have experience with the following common tail movements:

  • Up and down – When cat tails are poised straight up from the base, that means your at is feeling confident and strong. Owners typically find that scratching the base of the tail feels good to their cat, who demonstrates their appreciation by purring.
  • Tucked – One of the more puzzling signals, a tucked cat tail can mean insecurity, fear, anxiety, and even submission. Similarly, a tail that’s lowered but not tucked can be connected to feelings of insecurity or doubt.
  • Vibrating – Has your cat approached you with a vertical tail that begins to visibly shudder or shake the closer they get? Consider it a compliment. They’re just so happy to see you, they can hardly contain themselves (but be sure they aren’t marking or spraying when they do this!).
  • Slightly curved – Cat tails that are erect but have a slight curve at the tip can signal inquisitiveness or readiness to play. These cats are happy, excited, and relaxed. Take the hint and throw a toy!
  • By and by – Cat tails can act like hands or arms. If your cat rubs up on your legs or ankles and lingers for a moment to let their tail slightly wrap around you, they’re showing some serious affection.
  • The poof factor – Cat tails that are puffed up mean business. This action is supposed to make them look bigger and more threatening. Observe the accompanying tail flick, growl, hissing, and visual stand down.

Feline Behavioral Traits

Getting to know your cat better and understanding their unique traits is one of the best parts of owning a cat. When you show an interest in their feelings and moods, they feel respected and their trust in you grows and deepens. That’s when you know you’re on the way to a satisfying and enriching relationship.

If you have other questions about your cat’s strange or mysterious behaviors, we encourage you to contact us. We’re always here for you at Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital!

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