Felines have long tails for a reason. They act as a counterweight to help balance when they walk, jump and sit, particularly in tight spots. Their tails also help in the navigation of sharp turns when they’re running. But beyond balance, a cat’s tail serves another purpose, and that is to communicate. Read on to decipher what your cat’s tail could be telling you.
For starters, when your cat holds its tail up high with the end rounded over like a hook or a question mark, chances are that he or she is feeling playful and friendly. This particular tail posture is associated with good, happy feelings, so say “Hello Kitty!” and give him or her a pet.
A tucked tail under the body is associated with fear or sometimes submission on the part of the cat. Depending on the animal’s disposition, you’ll probably not see this particular tail maneuver very often — hopefully.
The stereotypical Halloween cat pose with the arched back and raised, stiff, bushy tail is a sure sign their fight or flight reflex is kicking in and they perceive a threat, either real or imagined. Be careful when this happens, because you could get clawed.
An erect tail held high and straight can convey confidence, contentment or even excitement, like when they hear the can opener in use and they come rushing in. If it’s quivering while in this position, excitement at the possibility of a treat or food is probably the cause for this “live wire” performance.
Have you ever noticed that when your cat is laser focused and getting ready to pounce their tail slowly swishes back and forth almost rhythmically as they lower into a crouch? This is their jungle instinct that has remained intact, regardless of evolution.
There is another back and forth swishing movement that occurs with their tails, but it’s a much more frenetic swishing motion that signifies unhappiness or fear. If your cat exhibits this low whipping behavior, they’re either irritated or frightened, and either could get you clawed, if you’re not careful.
Now that you know the tales your cat’s tail is trying to tell you, you can be more in tune with what’s going on inside that furry little head of theirs, even if they're not prone to being social.