Why Does My Cat Wag Her Tail When I Pet Her?

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 does my cat flick his tail when I pet him?

Cats Wag Their Tails When They’re Feeling Secure. If you’re petting your cat and they acknowledge you by moving their tail a bit or your cat is wagging their tail while they are purring, they’re feeling secure. This is a good sign you’re free to keep petting your beloved cat and showing them that you care.

Do cats wag tail when happy?

For dogs, tail wagging is a clear signal of happiness, excitement or maybe a little nervousness. Some cats may wag their tails when happy, but for most felines, it’s an entirely different story. For starters, cats don’t simply wag their tails.

Its a universally acknowledged truth that your dog is happy when his tail is wagging. But what about your cat? Have you ever asked yourself, Why do cats wag their tails? Most owners and cat sitters are surprised to learn it often is not a sign of a happy kitty, says Dr. Blain Kennedy, a veterinarian at Florida Veterinary League in Vero Beach, Florida. In fact, there are several reasons why your cat may be moving her tail in this manner. Heres everything you need to know about your furry friends tail wagging.

If this is the case, she will typically be backed up against the edge of the litter box, a wall or a piece of furniture. Shes in the Process of Hunting Cats swoosh their tails back and forth when they are in hunter mode as a way to mesmerize prey.

She Feels Secure You might notice your sleeping cats tail twitches slightly when you pet or talk to her.

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.

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.

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!

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.”

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.