Why Do Cats Flick Their Tails?

A familiar phrase claims that the eyes are the windows to the soul, but in cats, its their tail position that provides the greatest insight into what a cat is feeling.

If you dont, then the thrashing tail may be a prelude to hissing, growling, swatting, or biting. Cats twitch the end of their tails when they are hunting and playing, as well as when they are mildly irritated and frustrated.

Sometimes, when a cat quivers his tail while holding it straight up and backing up against a vertical surface, they may be urine marking. When a cats tail is upright, they are feeling social and confident, and approaching in a friendly manner. You may notice that sometimes your cats tail looks like a question markit stands upright and curls at the end.

If your cat assumes the quintessential Halloween-cat posture with a puffed tail and arched back, then they are startled or frightened by a sudden, severe threat. This tail position is often triggered by feeling threatened by other animals in the yard, dogs approaching, visitors in the home, or sudden noises. If you try to interact with your cat when their hair is standing up, they may perceive your approach as a threat and become aggressive.

If your cat is sitting or lying down with their tail wrapped around their body, then they are frightened, defensive, in pain, or feeling unwell. If your cat frequently crouches with their tail curled tightly around their body for more than a few days, then an evaluation by your veterinarian is warranted to rule out pain or illness.

Why do cats flick their tails while lying down?

Cats usually flick or swish their tail while lounging in the sun or while they are asleep. A gently flicking or waving tail means your cat is relaxed. When the tip of the tail flicks back and forth it means the cat is alert and focused on something that got her attention.

What does it mean when a cat keeps flicking its tail?

Flicking: If your cat is flicking its tail back and forth, particularly in a rigid way, there’s a good chance she’s upset or frightened —or stalking prey. Swish: A playful swishing tail will usually accompany your cat’s signature playtime behavior.

Are cats happy when they flick their tail?

Cats Wag Their Tails When They’re Happy and Confident. Sometimes she’ll also slightly curve the tip of her tail and even twitch or wag it softly. This isn’t the same exuberant tail wag dogs use, but it’s a subtle way to let you know she’s happy and content.

Its common knowledge that dogs wag their tails when theyre happy, but many might not know that cats wagging tails is a thing too. You might be asking, Do cats wag their tails? Yes, they wag their tails like dogs do, however, these frisky felines do so for entirely different reasons. From slight shimmies of the tail to full wags, cats put their tails in motion when they are feeling certain ways. So, when cats wag their tail what does it mean?

If you see your friendly feline walking around with their tail held high and wagging a little at the top, your cat is probably feeling pretty confident strutting around the house. If your cat is wagging their tail back and forth continually while lying down or flicking it with little bursts of energy , its likely that they are expressing their annoyance .

After a few waves and a grasp of their footing, youre bound to see them jump at their prey, whether it be in nature or a cat toy in your living room. Another way to do whats best for your cat is to ensure you have a pet insurance policy in place for whenever you need medical services for your active feline.

It’s a common misconception that cats will only wag their tails when they’re angry, but there’s actually loads of reasons why they may do this. Find out everything you need to know about cat tail language in this article.

Contrary to popular belief, a cats tail is actually really expressive and can give you an invaluable insight into if theyre feeling playful, happy or scared. By paying attention to the direction and speed of your cats wagging tail, as well as the rest of their body, you can usually get a good grasp as to how theyre feeling.

Their ears may also be pinned back, their body crouched low to the ground and if theyre really scared, they might tuck their tail between their legs too. Its a good idea to give your cat space if you see this as it could quickly transform into the angry low flick. This behaviour is most commonly seen when playing with toys or another cat and will be coupled with dilated pupils and forward pointing ears.

If your cats lying down and waving their tail whilst also behaving out of sorts such as going off their food or spending a lot of time in hiding they may be feeling under the weather.

To deepen our bond with our cats and provide for their quality of life, we pet parents must become multilingual by learning cat tail language so we may chat with our cats.

The tail is a continuation of the spine, comprising between 18 to 20 caudal vertebrae in most domestic cat species. A cats tail anatomy is made up of fur, skin, bones, blood vessels, nerves, and a small amount of muscle.

Evaluating the behavior of these cat breeds is trickier since relying on tail positioning is not possible. They vocalize by meowing and hissing, and they display non-verbal cues through body posture as well as eye and ear positioning. You may also notice that the tip of the tail may rapidly quiver or buzz while in this upright posture, indicating that your cat is particularly joyful.

Depending on their surroundings, cats with a hooked or bent tail resembling a question mark may be feeling either playful or otherwise doubtful. You may also notice that your cat may gently swish his tail when napping, meaning that this kitty is resting yet is remaining alert to whats happening in the environment. Depending on the circumstances, a cat holding its tail straight back may be either relaxed, slightly concerned, or else interested in something.

However, for other kitties (particularly long-haired cat breeds such as Persians), a tail held back or down can be interpreted as a relaxed, neutral expression. Your cat may attempt to shrink to the smallest possible size, lowering his head and crouching his body. If in doubt, consult your veterinarian to ensure your feline companion does not have an illness or injury causing this behavior.

In an attempt to look as large as possible to ward off a predator or other threat, your cat may bluff by bristling its hair through a smooth muscle action known as piloerection, causing the tail to puff up. Feline body and tail language is complex, but with a bit of practice, youll be on your way to becoming quite the pet interpreter.

Why Do Cats Wag Their Tails?

Just like dogs, cats move their tails to express their emotions. So what does it mean when a cat wags its tail? Let’s take a look at the different “wagging” tail movements and what they mean.

Thrashing Tail Movements

When your cat thrashes their tail, or is thumping it on the ground, they are irritated, annoyed, or angry. This tells you that something is bothering your cat.This is a distance-increasing behavior. In other words, if you are petting your cat and they start thrashing their tail, they are trying to tell you to stop. If you don’t, then the thrashing tail may be a prelude to hissing, growling, swatting, or biting.

Twitching the End of the Tail

Cats twitch the end of their tails when they are hunting and playing, as well as when they are mildly irritated and frustrated. In this case, read the scene and look for other clues to their mood. If they’re not playing or stalking something, then the twitching tail movement probably means that they are annoyed.

Swishing Tails

When your cat slowly swishes their tail from side to side, they may be intently focused on something like a toy, another animal in the home, or something outside. They may be about to pounce!Engaging in predatory behavior like stalking and pouncing is good enrichment for your cat, so let them continue to engage in whatever is captivating their attention.

Tail Quivers

Your cat may quiver their tail when they are especially excited to see you or another cat. Sometimes, when a cat quivers his tail while holding it straight up and backing up against a vertical surface, they may be urine marking.

Why Do Cats Fluff Up Their Tails?

If your cat assumes the quintessential Halloween-cat posture with a puffed tail and arched back, then they are startled or frightened by a sudden, severe threat.Your cat’s hair stands on end (piloerection) so that they can appear to be larger. This is a defensive reaction indicating that your cat wishes to be left alone.This tail position is often triggered by feeling threatened by other animals in the yard, dogs approaching, visitors in the home, or sudden noises. Remove the inciting triggers to decrease your cat’s stress. If you try to interact with your cat when their hair is standing up, they may perceive your approach as a threat and become aggressive.

Cats Wag Their Tails When They’re Hunting

When cats wag their tails it can mean your

Why do cats wag their tails?

Unlike dogs, cats often wag their tails when they are angry or upset, but it’s not always the case. Cat tail language is really sophisticated and can be an excellent indicator to your kitty’s emotions. By paying attention to the direction and speed of your cat’s wagging tail, as well as the rest of their body, you can usually get a good grasp as to how they’re feeling. See our list of possible explanations as to why your cat is wagging their tail.

Low flick

The low flick tail wagging will be displayed as a quick back and forth action. If you notice this cat tail swishing, give them space as this means that they’re unhappy and want to be left alone.You’ll probably see this cat tail language when they’re put in a situation they’re not pleased about, such as going to the vets.

Low wagging

If your cat’s wagging tail is low, it’s generally an indicator that they’re scared. Their ears may also be pinned back, their body crouched low to the ground and if they’re really scared, they might tuck their tail between their legs too.

Slow swish

When their tail slowly swishes from left to right, this tells you that they’re feeling mildly annoyed. It’s a good idea to give your cat space if you see this as it could quickly transform into the angry low flick.

Quick swish

Sometimes this cat tail swishing can be confused with the angry low flick, however it couldn’t be further from how they’re feeling. The quick side to side swish occurs when your cat is feeling playful and will often be followed by a pounce. This behaviour is most commonly seen when playing with toys or another cat and will be coupled with dilated pupils and forward pointing ears.

Quick twitch

If you notice your cat’s tail doing a short, quick twitch, it usually implies concentration. You’re most likely to see this cat tail language when they’re window watching a small critter or bird, and they may even display strange cat sounds like chirping or chattering.

The quiver

The tail quiver is quite possibly the cutest tail action, as it means that they’re excited to see you! Your cat will approach you with their tail high up in the air and the tip will do a little quivering movement, similar to how a rattlesnake shakes their tail.They use this cat tail language to signal to you or other cats that they’re ready for interaction and will usually purr, rub their face on you and sometimes might also meow happily.

Wrapping tail

Occasionally when your cat wants to show you affection, they may wrap their tail around your hand, arm or even neck. However, this is less common as most cats tend to display their love for you in the form of head butts instead.

Fluffed up tail

When your cat’s tail gets really fluffed up, it’s because they feel as though they’re in danger. They generally do this during a confrontation, whether with another dog, cat or maybe with your super scary hoover. According to The Nest, they fluff up to try and make themselves look larger and scarier to their foe, which is why they’ll arch their back too.

Sleep twitch

Sometimes when your cat’s sleeping and you pet or talk to them, they might twitch their tail. This cat tail language is their way of saying, “I know you’re there, but I feel safe enough to carry on snoozing anyway.”

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People who do not understand cats falsely assume our feline friends are overly aloof. However, true cat lovers know just how expressive cats are.Cats want to be understood, yet they speak an entirely different language than us humans, and their language is complex.To deepen our bond with our cats and provide for their quality of life, we pet parents must become multilingual by learning cat tail language so we may “chat” with our cats.

Understanding Your Cat’s Tail: The Basics

A cat’s tail position is one way a cat communicates with humans as well as other cats and animals.The long swishy tail of a feline is an important structure. The tail is a continuation of the spine, comprising between 18 to 20 caudal vertebrae in most domestic cat species. A cat’s tail anatomy is made up of fur, skin, bones, blood vessels, nerves, and a small amount of muscle. The nerve supply of a cat’s tail controls it in response to stimuli.Some cat breeds are born with a shortened or absent tail (such as the Manx). Evaluating the behavior of these cat breeds is trickier since relying on tail positioning is not possible.A cat’s tail does not function solely in communication. It is also important in balancing when running or jumping or as a counterbalance when a cat is walking on a narrow surface or suddenly changing direction when running or tracking prey. After all, cats are vertically-inclined creatures. When they’re not sleeping up to 18-20 hours per day, they’re often jumping and climbing, whether they’re in the wild or at home.

Cat Tail Health

A healthy tail is important to a cat’s overall wellbeing, and tail injuries can cause severe pain, discomfort, and stress for our cats.Though the spinal cord itself ends before the tail, nerve damage to the tail (such as damage caused by tail pulling) can cause traumatic spinal injuries in cats. Tail fractures can also occur.Severe or non-healing injuries to the tail may require amputation by a veterinarian. Fortunately, this surgical procedure is well-tolerated by the majority of cats.

Cat Tail Positions and What They Mean

Cats communicate in many ways. They vocalize by meowing and hissing, and they display non-verbal cues through body posture as well as eye and ear positioning.Additionally, cat tails are very expressive, and the position of your cat’s tail is another method by which your kitty can “speak” to you—communicating his preferences, emotions, and even signs of illness or injury.So what exactly are all your domestic cat’s different tail positions trying to tell you? Here’s a helpful breakdown.

Standing Straight Up

A cat with an upright tail pointing towards the sky is a happy feline. This tail position is similar to a human smile. A tail that stands straight up is a common greeting display, revealing that a cat is confident, content, and willing to interact with other cats or humans.Amicable cats with this tail posture show other felines they are non-confrontational, reducing the possibility of a conflict.You may also notice that the tip of the tail may rapidly quiver or buzz while in this upright posture, indicating that your cat is particularly joyful. Pet parents should reward these happy kitties with attention and praise.

The Curled Question Mark

Depending on their surroundings, cats with a hooked or bent tail resembling a question mark may be feeling either playful or otherwise doubtful. If something stressful is occurring, give your cat some time to gauge the situation. If your cat seems comfortable, try to encourage play with a dangly feather toy.

Curled Around the Body

If your cat’s tail is curled around itself while seated, your cat may be feeling submissive or a bit nervous. Give your cat some space to act on his own accord when ready. If your cat’s tail is curled around itself while he is sleeping, your cat needs a break and prefers to be left alone.

Wrapped Around You or Another Pet

Cats may also curl their tails around the body or tail of another cat as a sign of friendship and affection. You may notice that when your cat is especially relaxed in your presence, he may wrap a tail around your arm. This is your cat’s way of saying, “I love you.”

A Loose, Wagging Tail

If your cat’s tail is loosely and slowly swaying from side to side, your kitty is focusing intently on something, is bored, or is otherwise feeling playful and feisty. He may be preparing to stalk or pounce on prey, a toy, or a bit of food. Cat parents should allow their cats to continue to focus on whatever is holding their attention.You may also notice that your cat may gently swish his tail when napping, meaning that this kitty is resting yet is remaining alert to what’s happening in the environment. Sometimes, a feline in a deep sleep may swish his tail when dreaming.

The Quick Flick

While a loosely wagging tail can be a sign of focus or playfulness, a rapidly whipping tail that is lashing from side to side more forcefully is a clear indicator that your feline friend is feeling fearful or aggressive.A quick flick of the tail is a warning to other cats and humans to back off. These cats are agitated and may become aggressive if stressed further. The stronger the movement, the stronger the emotion. Pet moms and dads should back off and allow their cats to retreat. Avoid petting your cat to prevent petting-induced aggression.

Tail Held Straight Back

Depending on the circumstances, a cat holding its tail straight back may be either relaxed, slightly concerned, or else interested in something. Some cats that hold their tails down, especially at a 45-degree angle, may be feeling serious, somber, and slightly suspicious. However, for other kitties (particularly long-haired cat breeds such as Persians), a tail held back or down can be interpreted as a relaxed, neutral expression.Always look for context based on your cat’s surroundings, body posture, eyes, and ear position to determine what your cat is sensing.

Tucked Tail

When your cat is frightened or submissive, he may tuck his tail tightly around the body or between the legs. Your cat may attempt to shrink to the smallest possible size, lowering his head and crouching his body. Cat guardians should try to reduce the source of their cat’s stress or insecurity and avoid upsetting the situation further.Furthermore, a cat with a tucked tail may be experiencing pain. If in doubt, consult your veterinarian to ensure your feline companion does not have an illness or injury causing this behavior.

Puffed-Up Tail

While some cats may act submissive in the face of danger, other situations may require a cat to defend itself. In an attempt to look as large as possible to ward off a predator or other threat, your cat may bluff by bristling its hair through a smooth muscle action known as piloerection, causing the tail to puff up.When your cat is this agitated or frightened, his back may also arch up to resemble a “Halloween cat” or “scaredy cat” posture—another means of appearing larger.When your cat is afraid enough to be bristling his fur, you should carefully try to diffuse the distressing situation and avoid triggering your cat further, allowing your cat to retreat to avoid escalating the situation.