A Cat’s Tail Tells All

Published Date: November 27th, 2007
Category: Cats

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by SHARON COWHERD

Have you ever wondered what your cat is feeling? Did you know that you can tell by the movement of their tail? A cat will convey their emotions through a simple motion of their tale. Just as we can show our feelings without talking through our body language, cats do the same with their tail. Now to interpret their movements is going to allow you to know exactly what your cat is feeling or experiencing at that moment. This will also help you to leave a cat alone who does not want to be bothered or shower them with love when they want attention.

When your cat’s tail is swishing violently back and forth, sometimes called a Sword Tail, it is your indicator that they are agitated or anxious. This movement is also a warning that they could attack at any time. When you see your cat moving its tail in this motion you want to either leave it be and let it relax. You can also try to get its attention away from you or whatever is agitating it, by tossing a toy for it to play with.

A cat will curl up with its tail tucked all around it, showing that it is content. They may also want to keep to themselves for awhile in this position. Wrapping their tail around them also allows them to keep their feet warm and protected.

The tip of your cat’s tail will also tell you a lot when you are watching it. If your cat’s tail is lowered but the tip is curved upward, also known as the Tip-Off, it could mean that it is very nervous or unsure about its surroundings for something that has gotten its attention. You will want to approach your cat with caution when you see its tail in this position as it could get aggressive. You can soothingly talk to your cat to calm it down. If it continues to hold the tail with the tip curved upward give it space to calm down.

There is one tail position that will portray different emotions depending on other movements of your cat; this position is holding the tail straight up. If your cat is holding its tail straight up or curling slightly means it is in a friendly mood or really happy to see you. When a tail is straight up but quivering, your cat is showing its love. I have only seen this particular tail position in one of my cats. Cuddles used to jump on my lap and her tail would be straight up and quivering, it was a good feeling knowing that she loved me so much. You do however want to watch out for your cat when their tail is straight up and fully bristled, it is angry and is telling you to “Watch Out.”

Another tail movement that has more than one meaning is when your cat is swishing its tail back and forth. If the swishing movement is rapid and forceful, your cat is not in the mood to play. However, the opposite is true if the movement is gentle. A swishing motion is often an indication that something has caught your cat’s attention. It could be thinking about pouncing on a toy or climbing a tree. There is one movement that may appear cute or harmless, but if your cat is against something with its tail straight up and quivering it could mean that it is marking that object. This type of tail movement is an indication that it is spraying. If you catch your cat backing up to an object, get its attention away from spraying.

Have you seen your cat’s tail bush out to make it look larger than it really is? I have seen this type of tail movement in all of my cats. It is done when they are frightened or very irritated. I have only seen my cats’ tail in the bushy position when they get frightened, and it usually occurs when something catches them by surprise.

Another movement that only involves the tip of the tail is a tick tock motion. If the tip of the tail is sharply moving from side to side it is a very good sign that your cat is very irritated and that it wants to be left alone.

Knowing the different movements that your cat’s tail make is good to know, but what if your cat does not have a tail? There are breeds of cats that do not have tails, and a cat can also lose its tail in an accident. So how do you know what they are saying? If you have a cat without a tail, listen to its meow, purring, or watch how it is arching its back. It will show you what it is trying to tell you without its tail.

Sharon Cowherd maintains Caring for Your Cat, a blog about her experiences and knowledge of caring for her cats. You can read more about Sharon and her cats at http://www.caringforyourcat.com

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