Why Do Cats Wiggle Their Tail?

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.

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.

Cats are some of the most complex, curious and compassionate animals I know. Deciphering cat behavior is far more complicated and challenging than most other animals. Too often, we mistakenly apply canine experiences to explain why a feline acts a certain way. That doesnt work. Cats are not small dogs.

Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash The key lesson is that piloerection is the result of fear, not outright aggression. You can spot offensive aggression by a tail arched upwards at the base (near the body) and then curled down toward the legs.

If youre loving on your cat and notice the tail swish, dont be surprised if a palm pounce follows. Because cats are incredibly adept at hiding pain, I carefully look for subtle tail twitches. If your cat isnt feeling well and you spot them waving their tail while laying down, it could be a sign of pain.

Why do cats wag their tails? You might be surprised to learn that tail wagging is very different for cats than for dogs. Cats may flick their tails while walking, thump their tails while lying down or hold their tails up high when they see youcats have a unique body language all their own. But if you do a little research and pay close attention to your cat, you can soon learn exactly what your cat is trying to say each time he wags his tail.

Your cat might swish her tail in a similar manner if she’s hunting a bug in your house and about to channel her inner tiger as she dashes to her prize. When a cat feels threatened or is unexpectedly startled, he will puff up his tail until it’s twice its normal width or even larger.

When your cat is feeling happy and confident, she’ll walk around your home with her tail held high, pointing straight to the sky. The diffuser helps reduce stress, allowing your cat to feel calmer and more relaxed.

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.”

Cats Wag Their Tails When They’re Hunting

When cats wag their tails it can mean your

Tail greeting

When two cats greet each other, you may have noticed they approach with tails extended high in the air. An elevated tail held upright is a cat’s way of saying, “Hello!”Mutual head rubbing, called

Tail fear

If the hair along your cat’s tail and spine is standing upright, calledThe classic “’fraidy cat” or “Halloween cat” is often depicted with hair standing up and is a universal sign a cat means business.The key lesson is that piloerection is the result of fear, not outright aggression. Whenever I see a cat with hair-on-end, I calm myself even more, slow down my movements further and do everything in my power to relax the cat and reassure them I mean no harm.

Tail aggression

Of course, some cats are aggressive. You can spot offensive aggression by a tail arched upwards at the base (near the body) and then curled down toward the legs. You may or may not see piloerection. This is a subtler posture and is a cat’s final visual warning before they strike.Unfortunately, many truly aggressive cats learn to conceal this display until the last second before attacking. If you spy this tail position, back off.

Tail wagging

There are a few variations of feline tail wagging. This first often accompanies a tail greeting. This type of tail wag is identified as an easy back-and-forth wave of an upright tail. It’s a further statement that the cat is happy, comfortable and content. Much head rubbing follows. Another tail wag occurs whenever your kitty lovingly wraps their tail around your leg or arm. A gentle grasp, release and tail flipping indicates you’re loved.A gentle, slow, side-to-side swish is another tail wag that hints play. Some cats even wag their tails this way while lying down. If you’re loving on your cat and notice the tail swish, don’t be surprised if a palm pounce follows. You’ll often observe tail swishing when playing with toys or feather dusters.Cats will also wag and twitch their tail when deeply concentrating. These short, quick tics are typically observed when “window hunting.” The theory is cats are so focused on virtually stalking prey outside their window that they mimic some of their instinctive predatory postures.Finally, remember that tail arched near the back and then carried down low by the legs? If you see that and a twitching tail, really back off. That really is your last warning, if you’re lucky.

Pain

I’d like to add one additional tail wag: pain.As a veterinarian, I often see cats with illnesses and injuries that cause discomfort. Because cats are incredibly adept at hiding pain, I carefully look for subtle tail twitches. If your cat isn’t feeling well and you spot them waving their tail while laying down, it could be a sign of pain. To me, that is a cat’s way of crying, “Help.”In those cases, it’s always best to get to the veterinarian to check things out. And if you have a pet insurance plan for your cat, any necessary treatments or medications your cat needs can be covered.Cats are amazing animals. We’re just beginning to crack their communication codes. My best advice is to begin closely observing your cat at play, relaxing, eating and hanging out. You’ll begin to understand your cat’s normal postural and behavioral vocabulary. When they’re stressed or sick, you’ll be better equipped to identify these changes earlier and seek help sooner. Until then, keep those tails held high and wagging!

Cats May Wag Their Tails When Hunting

Cats also wag their tails when they’re hunting. Sometimes this looks more like an energetic swish or even a persistent thump. This often happens when she’s watching birds out the window and becomes very focused on her prey.