We all love our cat’s tails – long, short, fluffy or slim. But what’s your cat’s tail saying with all that adorableness?

Cats have evolved to communicate with body language. They are stealthy predators – but they are also prey animals, so they’ve learned to communicate from a safe distance. And this is why their tails do so much talking with other approaching cats – and us.

Understanding what our cat’s tail is saying is so important in building a trusting relationship with our feline friends.

Tail Talk

  1. The Swishing Tail communicates intense focus. This is often included in the ‘staring’ part of a cat’s prey sequence – as they intently observe their prey – or a toy. If you have a vocal kitty, you may also hear some chirping/chattering while their tails swish away – usually right before a pounce!
  2. The Straight Up Tail is a sign that a cat is feeling confident, social, and friendly. Sometimes this gesture includes a little hook at the tail top – commonly referred to as the question mark – which means they’re also feeling curious.
  3. The Fluffed Tail is a defensive response. It’s an attempt to appear larger than they are in an effort to ward off whatever startled them. For our indoor kitties, we want to see what might be making our cat feel threatened – and do what we can to remove the stressor.
  4. The Tail Wrap is a sign of affection and affiliation. Our cats will often do this as a greeting. They will walk up to us with their tails help high, rub up against us and wrap their tail around our leg. In human body language, it’s much like our hugs or handshakes. Bonded cats will also often intertwine their tails as a similar sign of affection.
  5. The Tucked Tail is displayed when a cat is feeling insecure, anxious, fearful, or submissive. Unlike the fluffed tail, this is an attempt to appear smaller or go unnoticed. If your cat usually demonstrates a happier tail, this could also be a sign she is not feeling well.
  6. The Quivering Tail is a sign of excitement. Yes, this movement is also observed when a cat is marking – which is why people often think this is ‘phantom spraying’ – but this stereotype gives this special communication a bad wrap. More often, the quivering tail is telling us our cats are especially excited and happy to see us or one of their friends.

While many people still believe cats are aloof and unexpressive, we hope this helps them realize their tails have been talking all along.



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