What Cat Tails Are Trying to Say

What Cat Tails Are Trying to Say

Whether we realize it or not, we convey a great many things simply by how we stand, walk, the position of our arms, and other subtle body language indicators.  The same is true in the animal kingdom, and humankind has learned a great deal via research on species-specific body language.

When it comes to cats, the tail is a fairly loud mouthpiece. Indeed, cat tails say a whole lot – we just have to know the right ways to listen.

Crossing Wires

While every cat is unique, they take in verbal and non-verbal cues and interpret them in similar ways. Without a doubt, there’s wiggle room when it comes to synthesizing body language, but in our attempts to understand our feline friends, there are significant benchmarks that demand close attention.


Why do we look at cat tails for answers? Because they’re incredibly telling! Plus, they give us information that allows us to respect their interests or preferences. In other words, cat tails signal what cats feel, and how they’re trying to deal with surrounding stimuli.

Decoding Cat Tails

Cat owners are typically familiar with the following tail body language, but don’t always know what it all means:

  • Up – A strong, straight up tail signals confidence and contentment.
  • Down/Out – Cat tails can stick straighout out behind them or down closer to the ground. Depending on how they feel or what they’re responding to, the position could mean neutrality or indifference. However, if it’s very low or tucked they could be trying to convey insecurity, defensiveness or submission. Careful, this tail position can quickly evolve into aggression.
  • Poofy – A puffed-out cat tail is something to pay attention to. They tend to do this when threatened and puffing up helps them appear larger. A hiss or growl may accompany a poofy tail, so watch out!
  • Twitchy – Cat tails that twitch are usually very excited by their owner’s proximity. You may want to be sure they aren’t spraying or marking when they do this, but otherwise, it’s a real compliment to make a cat’s tail vibrate.
  • Slight Curl – Somebody is feeling happy, curious and playful!

Tail or Tentacle?

Cat tails are often used to communicate love and affection to their people. They are employed to linger across legs or drape over arms, not unlike an extra arm or leg.

Love, Your Cat

The bottom line is that cat tails are incredible markers of feline moods. If we are smart and experienced enough, we can interpret whatever they’re trying to “say” with the tail and give them what they want or need. Whether it’s space, time, or loads of snuggles, cat tails are essential to a successful, meaningful human-cat relationship.

As always, give us a call at Schertz Animal Hospital if you (or your cat!) have any questions or concerns.

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