Pssst! Do You Know What Your Cat’s Tail is Trying to Tell You? 

Cats have reputations for being quiet, aloof or mysterious, but that’s only if you’re not listening to them.

Indeed, what they say with their body language is so much louder than words. In addition to their expressive eyes, various types of vocalizations, and of course, their distinctly feline movements, your cat’s tail is speaking volumes.

A Step Ahead

Did you know that wild cats rarely meow at each other? They definitely yowl and hiss, but the classic meow is strictly reserved for human-cat communication. Aside from vocalizing, cats also “speak” with scent signals and complex variations of feline body language.

Goin’ Up

You’ve probably noticed that your cat’s tail seems to rise straight up upon seeing you or another family member. Whether they are excited about the prospect of their next meal or simply wanting a little affection, your cat is clearly happy to see you!

A Show of Love

A straight up and down tail means your cat is happy, content and satisfied. However, if it’s vertical with a slight curve at the tip they might be a little unsure about something. They could be seeking out something in particular or just don’t have all the puzzle pieces yet to an unfolding situation. Go ahead, reassure them with a little back scratch, ending with a tail stroke.

So Down With That

When your cat’s tail dips down close to their back feet they are possibly feeling defensive or submissive. However, depending on stimuli they may start to act aggressively. Fear and anxiety are big emotions connected to a downward tail, and we encourage you to get to the bottom of these feelings.

Jutting Backward

Sometimes your cat may extend their tail back behind them and parallel to the floor. Again, this is a sign of doubt or uncertainty. If it starts to twitch or swish side to side they may feel a range of things, such as aggression, playfulness, indifference, or anticipation. Be careful: a swishing tail can go from a state of absolute alertness to full-on pounce-mode.

Good Vibrations

Cats use their tails to give warnings. Notice how your cat sort of shakes or vibrates their tail when they encounter a potential threat. They may also puff up their entire coat to appear larger and more formidable to an interloper or predator.

Similarly, some cats will twitch their upright tail when they approach their most valued human. It’s a show of absolute devotion, and if it happens near you, you could try to react in kind.

We Love Your Cat’s Tail

Feline body language can also help you deliver a higher quality of life by recognizing when they’re when in pain, sensitive to touch, or feeling sick.

Your cat’s tail is a meaningful conveyor of important feline thoughts and emotions. The more you know about their state of mind, through your cat’s tail, the closer you can feel to them. 

At our Cat Friendly Practice, we take into consideration the many levels of feline communication. If our veterinarians and staff members at Rutland Veterinary Clinic and Surgical Center can assist you with further questions, please give us a call

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About Rutland Veterinary Clinic and Surgical Center

Rutland Veterinary Clinic and Surgical Center provides top-quality veterinary care to the Rutland, VT pet community.