Cat Tail Meanings: What Your Cat is Telling You

Everyone knows that cats are very unpredictable. One minute they’re all over you and then suddenly they just don’t care. Like people, cats have unique personalities and are different from each one. However, they do have their very own common language and way to communicate. If you want to understand your cat, learning their body language is one of the best ways to understand them. The cat tail movement meanings are described here.

Cats express themselves in a variety of waeys. Although they do meow to speak out, they mostly use other means such as their eyes, face, body, and tail to communicate with other cats as well as the humans who are part of their lives. The most noticeable and expressive means of a cat’s communication is their tail and its movements.

Does your cat want to play or is it annoyed? Is your cat excited or is it ready to attack? All of these can be recognized just by observing your cat tail body language and what they’re trying to say with their tail. It may take some time to master it, but simply knowing how your cat communicates with you will help you understand them much better. 

Cat Tail Meaning Basics

A cat’s tail language is a great way to determine what your cat is trying to tell you. It’s a really effective way of communicating and also understanding your cat due to its mobile nature. If you happen to love observing your cat, just think of the many times you’ve seen different kinds of tail movements from it. They could go up or down, lash it from side to side, twitch, curl up, and more. How their fur puffs up or not is also an indicator of your cat’s mood.

Cats can communicate verbally and nonverbally to express how they feel. As already mentioned, cats communicate verbally through meowing. The most expressive way of nonverbal communication for cats is their tail. If you consider the atmosphere, your cat’s temperament, and your cat’s tail movements, this will help you a lot more on knowing what’s going on through your cat companion’s mind and what they’re feeling. 

Understanding Cat Tail Meanings

If you’ve always wondered what your feline friend is trying to tell you, being observant and knowing cat tail meanings will give you a better picture about what your cat is feeling emotionally. But of course, not everyone can speak cat. Whether you’re a new cat owner or someone who wants to connect more with their pets, this guide will help you understand your cat more and know what’s going on their furry little head. Below are different cat tail meanings that will help you find a common language with your feline friend.

A Happy Cat

Knowing if your cat is happy is one of the easiest and most obvious emotions your cat can express. Happy cats love to purr, especially when they feel content. When they’re happy, being healthy follows. They always groom themselves or even others, including their human. They love playing and interacting with people in their environment and even other cats. Happy cats are also curious about their surroundings and are explorers by nature. There are a lot more ways to know whether your cat is happy, and everything mentioned can be determined through their tail movements.

Raised and Curled at the End

Cats who have their tails raised with a curled end similar to a question mark means that your cat is happy and content with its life. This most likely means you are good friends with your cat. This often happens when you get home and your cat greets you. They also point their ears and whiskers at you meaning they’re happy to see that their human companion is back.

Any cat who greets you with enthusiasm just when you arrived or even when you just woke up is definitely one happy cat. But of course, not all cats are like this. Just like humans, each cat has a different personality and demeanor. It could be that your cat expresses affection in a different way or shows happiness with less enthusiasm. Some cats are simply comfortable with less interaction, so don’t feel bad if your cat seems aloof.

High and Vibrating

There are times that you’ll see that your cat has its tail high and slightly vibrating. This means that your cat is very excited about something. This happens when you’re about to feed your cat or when it’s expecting a treat from you. Also similar to the previous cat tail meaning, displaying this tail also means that your cat is excited to see you. However, in an entirely different context this could mean that your cat is agitated, so make sure you read the atmosphere first before trying anything to avoid making your cat upset.

An excited cat is definitely a sign of happiness. Take advantage of this moment as this is when your cat feels most playful. Get your cat’s favorite toys, offer it treats, or even give it cuddles. It is believed too that playing is a luxury behavior for cats and will only engage in it once all its other needs are met. Of course, older cats may be less playful than younger ones, but they will still play with you especially if it’s their favorite toy or even a new one that might pique their curiosity.


When your cat is lying down with its belly exposed, body stretched out, and its tail just in a natural position, this means that your cat is relaxed and just living its life. If your cat is in this position, it’s most likely safe to approach it and pet it without being worried whether it will suddenly attack or not. Also, you could also consider this as your cat’s me-time and just leave it alone and wait for it to come to you.

When you see your cat relaxed and free from all kinds of stress, when it’s not anxious or doesn’t show fear in its surroundings, it’s most likely that your cat is one happy and calm cat. Your cat could also show resting with its feet tucked underneath its body and its tail curled around it. It’s not easily startled or distracted and just continues its calm manner.

Sitting with Tail Curled Around Legs

A cat sitting with its tail curled around its legs symbolizes an alert and focused cat. This means it’s really interested in whatever’s going on in its surroundings. You should respond to this by just letting your cat continue to be fascinated by whatever’s taking their interest. They could be curious with what you’re eating and wonder if they could take a bite, or even be by the sink wondering why you’re washing your face. This also comes with staring at you intently, which is really adorable and a sign of affection.

Other things your cat could be fascinated about are creepy crawlers such as bugs and insects. You will find your cat staring at the ceiling if there’s a flying bug around or at the floor if they see something crawling. This is also the same for birds and rodents. Indoor cats will just stare out the window gazing at these creatures from the outside. That is until they get into an excited mood and start twitching their tails.

Wrapped Around Another Cat

When you see your cat wrapping its tail around another cat, it’s just like when people wrap their arm around other people. It symbolizes friendship and a close bond. This means they feel close to this other cat or animal. You may also find your cat doing this to you if it feels you have bonded and are close. This is one way for them to express their friendliness and love.

Cats will often do this as they rub themselves against your leg and then wrap their tail around your calf. If your cat does this, it believes that you belong to the same group and has your full trust. Other than an arm wrapping around another person, it could also be like people holding hands. It could also be their way of hugging. If your cat does this to you, know that your cat is one happy cat who feels loved.

A Worried Cat

When it’s relatively easy to know when a cat is happy, it’s the opposite for the worried cat. Sometimes you may confuse it with a cat being relaxed or just not giving a care about its surroundings, but there is more to knowing if your cat is worried, stressed, or anxious. You should always be observant and see telltale signs whenever your cat shifts their mood. One thing’s for sure though, that if your cat displays the cat tail meanings below, you have to pay close attention to see if this is something temporary or not. Know what to do and what not to do when your cat displays worry and anxiety.

Tucked Away

When you cat is in a crouched position with its tail tucked away closely to its body and ears slightly sideways, this means your cat is tense and uncomfortable. It’s best not to approach your cat when you see them like this. Or whatever it is that you are doing and then suddenly your cat does this, you should back away and get close to them some other time. That means they didn’t like what you just did and felt threatened.

When cats feel fear, they will tuck their tail and do a defensive posture. Their ears are often a dead giveaway along with this posture as their ears go back when they’re afraid. This could also signify that your cat is not feeling well and feels pain. When you find that your cat has its ears or whiskers dropped along with deep purring, this could mean that your cat is in a lot of pain. Be observant as this may also signify that it’s time to take your cat to the vet.

Lowered Toward the Ground

Sometimes you may see your cat with its tail low on the ground. Cats do this when they feel afraid or sense something frightening in their surroundings. It could be a someone who they aren’t familiar with like a visitor or a new pet. Cats don’t adapt well to change, so when something new to them comes within their presence, they feel cautious and alert.

Another meaning if your cat does this is that they feel insecure and guilty. When you notice the tail of your cat lowered toward the ground, take a good look around your house. It’s most likely your cat has done something wrong or made a mess. They do this because they feel their human is going to be mad or punish them.

Of course, if your cat does something you don’t like, punishment isn’t the way to go. If you try to dominate your cat through the form of punishment, you will break your bond with them. Also, they aren’t like dogs that respond differently with discipline. Raising your voice isn’t the way either as this will only add stress and cause other misbehaving. It’s best to divert their attention instead. For example, if your cat keeps on scratching the couch, redirect it back to the scratching post until they get it.

An Angry Cat

Cats are very fussy creatures with moods that change quickly in a blink of an eye. One minute they’re fine with you petting them, and then the next minute you’ll find them biting your hand all of a sudden. Knowing when your cat is angry will let you determine when to back off and avoid getting hurt in the process. The best way to deal with an angry cat is to give it space instead of fanning the fire by continuously stimulating them. If you continue to prod an angry cat, you may find yourself in a dangerous situation. Seeing the angry cat tail meanings below will let you know when a cat is angry and when it’s ready to strike.

Straight and Puffed Out

If you find your cat with its tail straight up and puffed out, this requires special attention. This signifies extreme aggression and that your cat is very angry. This often occurs when a cat is in defensive mode and is ready to pounce at any time. If you have multiple cats in your home, this is a very usual happening, especially if you have older and younger cats. Older cats that love the lethargic life would feel annoyed by a younger cat who displays high amounts of energy, and this would often end in hissing, scratching, and tails all puffed out.

The best thing to do in situations like this is to take a look at your cat’s surroundings and see if there is anything in your cat’s environment that could make it feel danger. If there isn’t any threat around, try to calm down your cat by isolating it in a quiet place where they could be at peace. Avoid petting your cat when it shows aggression as this might end up with you getting hurt. If you’re having a hard time approaching your cat, giving it some alone time will eventually make it calm down.

However, this isn’t always the case. Having a puffed-out tail, for the most part, indicates an angry and aggressive cat, but it could also signify an overly excited cat. This is especially apparent when your cat is experiencing cat-zoomies where they run around like a ball of energy all over the place. This is their way of releasing pent-up energy and is completely normal particularly in younger cats. This is why it’s important to read the situation and make sure your cat isn’t angry and just experiencing the zoomies.                                                                                                         

Straight but Inclined at a Low Angle

Cats that position their tail straight and inclined at a low angle signifies slight aggression or even fright. They do this when they sense something they don’t like or when they’re sneaking away from an enemy or threat. When your cat does this, try to pet it so that it calms down. Situations such as the arrival of a new presence in the home like a visitor, a new pet, or a new baby can make your cat feel uncomfortable and do this. Any change in the environment they’re in can cause your cat to feel upset.This cat tail meaning is often accompanied by stress which isn’t ideal for your furry friend.

Keep in mind though that cats sometimes hide their stress or even their illness. Just because you don’t see any changes in your cat during a recent move or when there is a change in their environment doesn’t mean they’re okay with it. What’s best is to try and keep your household as calm as possible and avoid moving furniture too much. If there are guests in your home and you see that your cat feels uncomfortable, ask them not to escalate things and just leave your cat alone.

Cat Tail Wagging Meaning

Unlike dogs where everyone knows that tail wagging means they’re happy, it’s quite the opposite for cats. When cats wag their tails, this means that they’re annoyed and that you should leave them alone. If you see your cat swishing their tail quickly back and forth, they’re either feeling upset or simply just fixated on something that caught their attention.Other times cats will do this is to tell their humans to stop petting them. Once you see your cat flicking its tail when you’re petting them, stop what you’re doing before your cat puts its claws out or even bites you.

Although cat tail wagging mostly symbolizes an annoyed or agitated cat, it could also mean a cat that is completely satisfied and content. Cats sometimes do a lazy tail wag which you may notice happens when your cat is lying down beside you or when you’re petting it. This is your cat’s way of saying that it completely trusts you. This is why it’s really important to read the atmosphere in order to tell if your cat is getting angry or if it’s just a happy and content cat.

Petting Your Cat’s Tail

Learning how your feline friend communicates with you through its tail is a must. It’s also important to know that when it comes to a cat’s tail, petting it is off-limits. Cats don’t like it when you pet their tail including the base of the tail. The belly, legs, and paws are also a no-no when it comes to petting. This is because cats feel these areas are vulnerable, and they wouldn’t want someone touching them in these areas. A cat wagging its tail may be interesting for kids, but it’s best to stay away from the tail to avoid a painful and stressful experience for the kids and the cat.

Sometimes cats do allow you to pet these areas for a few moments, but they will eventually grab you or even attempt a bite if you don’t stop. Although this could be a playful interaction for some cats, it will still be unpleasant to anyone when it comes to those sharp claws.Other cats prefer not to be petted at all and would just rather be left alone, or they would rather interact with other cats than humans.In some instances, they will be the ones to approach you if they want to be petted and just walk away when they think the interaction is enough.

Understanding your feline friend doesn’t have to become a challenge. In fact, with all things mentioned, you will be one step closer to knowing how your cat feels. But remember, just like humans, cats have personalities and not all cats are the same. Some cats are more expressive, while some are not. Being observant and keeping an eye on their tail movements will enable you to have a better bond with your cat. And with the cat tail meanings mentioned, you’ll have a better understanding of their needs and behaviors.

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