Cat Tail Positions and What They Mean
You may think cats are hard to read but it isn’t necessarily the case. You’re probably picking up on these signals already without knowing. Learning cat body language by analysing your cat’s tail position is paramount to understanding him/her and some signals are more obvious than others. Cats display a lot of their emotion through the use of their tail so let’s take a look at what your cat is trying to tell you…
If your cat is approaching you with an upright tail, he/she is pleased to see you. This is a friendly signal and indicates your cat is content. If it’s upright and quivering, then you’re winning! This means your cat is ecstatic to see you. My cat only does this when she knows food is going to follow. I feel used 😒
If the tail is upright but hooked at the end, this indicates that he/she is feeling friendly but a bit unsure.
Up 45° Angle Tail
A tail held at a rough 45° angle signals that this cat is unsure and this is a non-threatening way of displaying that emotion.
Note: An upright tail doesn’t always mean a friendly cat! If your cat’s tail is swishing from side to side in a dramatic way, this is most definitely not friendly and he/she is telling you that they want to be left alone. Similarly, if your cat’s tail is upright but now resembles a toilet brush i.e. it’s puffed up and bristled, he/she is very angry and is trying to make him/herself look bigger!
Tail Out Straight
If your cat is holding their tail straight out horizontally, this means the cat is feeling amicable. However, as this is a neutral position, other signs would need to be observed such as the position of whiskers/ears.
Raised at the Base
Tail is raised at the base and then drops lower. This is a defensive/aggressive tail position and most commonly seen among cat fights.
When your cat is thrashing his/her tail from side to side, this can mean your cat is feeling excited, angry, or irritable so you would need to look at other body language signals apart from the tail and the context. For example, your cat could be enjoying receiving affection from you, or during playtime. However, if the tail is being thumped on the floor, this indicates the cat is angry and you could be about to get a nip!
If he/she is just twitching the tip of the tail, your cat is alert and interested. You would notice other body language signals in this instance such as enlarged pupils.
Down 45° Angle Tail
Potentially aggressive. It’s best to look at other body language signals alongside this to determine what your cat may be thinking.
Just as a dog would, cats also hang their tail between their legs when they are feeling submissive. Typically seen when one cat backs down during a cat fight, followed by walking away very slowly.
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