Why Do Cats Tails Twitch?

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.

Is it normal for a cat's tail to twitch?

Twitching the tail tip while holding it low and straight is often associated with hunting behavior. … Tail twitching can also be associated with aggression. The more the tail is moving back and forth, the less happy the cat is. Rapid tail movement means they’re issuing a threat to another cat or human.

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.

A cat tail is an amazing and beautiful thing. Not only is it an anatomical wonder, its an excellent tool for feline self-expression. Even the most obtuse of humans can learn the secrets of this behavior cat tail talk, if you will with a little observation, and your cat will love you even more if you can interpret her special sign language. Here are the facts behind some of my favorite cat tail signs and what they mean.

Cats may seem completely enigmatic to some, with their aloof behavior and capacity for what seems like coldness. But as any cat lover may tell you, there’s a lot more going on with a cat than may at first meet the eye.

And if her tail is held at an angle behind, up, and away from the body, twitching back and forth, then the she is most likely trying to express a lack of respect or indifference toward whomever she is encountering. If the tail is in a hooked-down position, covering the cat’s anus, then they she most likely is in a defensive posture ready to express aggression if she needs to.

If her tail is twitching back and forth at the end, she most likely is feeling alert and interested in something that is happening. Cats are complicated, emotional creatures who rely on a combination of instinct and intelligence to navigate their day-to-day lives.

A cats body language tells you a lot about what theyre thinking or intend to do next. Sure, cats meow, hiss, and make lots of vocalizations to communicate, just like we humans vocalize when we talk. However, cats also rely on their full bodies to communicate, too.

An upright tail that flips forward over the cats back is in a neutral, welcoming position. If the cats tail quivers and they dance on their back feet, theyre giving you an ecstatically happy greeting.

An upright, bottle brush tail indicates the cat feels threatened and is being defensively aggressive.

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.”

1. In the air

When Sinéad and Siouxsie were kittens, they’d come running up to me with their tails held high the minute I opened my apartment door. This would quickly be followed by purrs and head bonks all over my shoes. Nothing says, “OMG, I love you so much and I’m so happy to see you!” quite like high-tailed kittens. It’s a sign that needs little translation.

2. Question mark cat tail

A cat that approaches you with an erect tail with a tiny hook at the end is saying, “I’m friendly and I’m also just a tiny bit tentative and curious. May I come to you?” I saw this a lot in my shelter cats, and my own kitty roommates do that when guests come over to visit. As soon as you say something like, “Hello, darling,” and reach out a hand, the tail straightens out and you’re greeted with head bonks and love.

3. The tip twitch

If you’re petting your cat and you start seeing the tip of her tail twitch a little bit, that’s an early sign that your cat is getting overstimulated and wants you to back off. If you see the tip twitch, you should heed this polite request.

4. The single flip

When I scold Bella for getting on the counter while I prepare her food, she hops onto the floor and does a single whole-tail twitch. I interpret this as the cat tail language equivalent of a teenager’s smart-ass comment and reply with, “Don’t you twitch your tail at me, young lady!”

5. The cat tail hug

When Thomas climbs into my lap while I’m sitting at the computer, he either drapes himself over my arm or settles in for a snuggle and wraps his tail around my wrist. I call this a “tail hug” and I melt every time it happens.

6. Exclamation point cat tail

When Bella gets startled, she jumps backwards and her tail instantly goes full vertical and all the fur stands on end. This is her equivalent of “Eek!” For her, it doesn’t seem to mean “I’m terrified” as much as “You shocked the hell out of me … and I kinda liked it!” When I see her in exclamation-point-tail mode, I gently stroke said tail and tell her, “Oh, Bella, what are you all fat-tailed for?” Then it’s time for skritches around the neck and ears as she slowly de-floofs.

7. Cat tail tag

Thomas absolutely loves to play tail tag with Bella. He flicks his tail back and forth, all the while looking at Bella with wide eyes. Bella gets all excited and starts smacking at his tail. Here’s a video of a tail tag game in action.

Straight-Up Positions with Cats’ Tails

When your cat is approaching you, someone else, or another animal and is holding her tail straight up, it means that she is open and even a bit happy to meet you or this person or other animal. If her tail is quivering, it may mean that she is is excited to see you or whomever she is encountering.A straight-up tail posture with a hook at the end of the tail typically means that your cat is undecided about how she feels. Think of the hook in the end of her tail as a question mark.If your cat is holding her tail straight up and it is bristling, this is an indication that she is agitated, angry, or afraid. She is puffing their tail up in an instinctual attempt to appear bigger to whatever the perceived threat is. Typically, she will try to find a way to get out of the situation, but may lash out if she feels cornered or threatened.

Tail-Behind Positions and Cat Language

A cat may also communicate her feelings by holding her tail straight out behind her at a variety of angles. If the tail is held straight out, flat behind her, then she is most likely amicable and not feeling either aggressive or fearful.If the tail is held straight out behind, but angled up, she is unsure how to feel at the moment. And if her tail is held at an angle behind, up, and away from the body, twitching back and forth, then the she is most likely trying to express a lack of respect or indifference toward whomever she is encountering.

Tail-Down Positions

Most tail-down positions indicate that a cat is feeling defensive or submissive. If the tail is in a hooked-down position, covering the cat’s anus, then they she most likely is in a defensive posture ready to express aggression if she needs to.If her tail is tucked under her belly, she is feeling submissive. And if her tail is held out and down at an angle, it may indicate that she feeling aggressive.

What Does Tail Twitching Mean?

As with dogs, the tail can signal a cat’s intentions. If a dog wags their tail, it often means they’re happy or excited. This is not always true with a cat, and they’ve perfected various tail twitches to carry different messages.Tail twitching can also be associated with aggression. The more the tail is moving back and forth, the less happy the cat is. Rapid tail movement means they’re issuing a threat to another cat or human.This is a ploy designed to make an aggressor go away. If you see a stray cat with a rapidly twitching or moving tail, it’s best to stay away from them for your own safety.