Although we tend to think of cats as independent and even aloof, they’re actually great communicators. Feline communication includes many different facets, such as body language, vocalizations, facial expressions, and scent markers.

However, the position of your cat’s tail may be one of the best indicators of their mood. Once you understand some of the basics, it’s easy to determine your cat’s likes, loves, and fears. And, let’s be honest, what cat owner wouldn’t love gaining a little more insight into how their cat is feeling?

The Tale of the Tail

When using body language to interpret what your cat is saying, it’s important to consider the context and the individual pet’s personality. Here are some common tail positions and what they could mean:

  • Tail position high – When a cat holds their tail high, it can signal that they’re happy and relaxed. The higher the tail, the more confident the cat may be feeling. However, if the tail is held high with the fur puffed out, it likely means alarm or even aggression.
  • Tail position low – If your cat’s tail is held down low to their body, it may mean they’re feeling unsure or fearful. A tail that’s tucked all the way under the body means they’re afraid or anxious about something.
  • Tail position out and behind – A cat’s tail that’s held behind the body and angled upward may signal indifference. A tail held out and behind away from the body may mean your cat is unsure and is trying to determine how to respond to a situation.

Wags and Twitches

A twitching tail is really common and can mean a variety of things depending on the context. For example, a tail that’s whipping back and forth may mean anger or aggression. Steer clear! On the other hand, a slowly swishing tail usually means your cat is focused on a particular object. You may see this right before they pounce on that toy mouse or when they’re focused on “hunting.”

Sometimes, you may notice your cat’s tail is still except for the tip. This could be interpreted as predatory indecision – your cat is trying to decide whether to pounce or chase their prey.

Whatever the state of your cat’s tail, make sure you take the whole situation into account before proceeding. A cat who’s upset and angry may look the same as a cat who’s getting ready for some serious play with another pet in your household.

The Pet Experts at Naperville Animal Hospital are your trusted partners in feline care and wellness. If you have additional questions or would like more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us.