Cats and their Tails

Did you know you can read your cat’s mood just by his tail? Indeed, it is so much more expressive than you ever may have believed.

Why do cats have tails?

tabby cat with raised tail - norsh - cats and their tales

We can’t deny that felines are some of the most poised and elegant creatures in the animal kingdom. That is partly owing to their tails!

Tails are essential to aid a cat’s balance, giving them that incredible ability to almost always land on their feet, seemingly, no matter the height!

Aside from balance, cats’ tails are filled with nerves and serve as another form of sensory touch.

Fun Fact: Did you know the tail also contains 10 percent of your cat’s bones?!

Cats also use their tails as a means of communication with both humans and indeed other animals!

Tail Translations

black white and ginger cat with raised tail

A Friendly Cat - will hold his tail high in the air with a tall, confident posture. The tip of his tail may crook forward when feeling particularly happy. He may even wrap his tail around your leg to say hello.

A Playful Cat - will curve his tail like a question mark. If your cat is focused on an object, his tail may twitch or swish from side to side right before he pounces.

An Irritated Cat - will thump his tail.

An Aggressive Cat - will display a fluffed up tail or a tail that is lashing from side to side.

A Frightened Cat - will tuck his tail underneath or close to his body or hold his tail low to the ground.

Why do cats wag their tails?

Black white and ginger cat tail

That depends on your definition of wag. Like dogs, cats don’t only wag their tails when they’re in a happy mood, as you can see from our translations above. You can tell a lot by the position of your cat’s tail and how fast it’s “wagging”!

Fast lashing: Your cat is feeling aggressive, angry, or threatened.

Gentle swishing: Your cat is feeling playful and may be about to pounce.

High quivering: Your cat is feeling excited and happy to see you or another cat.

Low twitching or flicking: Your cat may be feeling annoyed or mildly angry.

Wagging while sleeping: Your cat is probably dreaming.

Can cats control their tails?

fluffy tabby cat rubbing fence post - Norsh - cats and their tales

For the most part, cats can and do control their tails. As outlined, many of your cat’s emotions are made evident through its tail.

 Having said that, some movements can also be involuntary; have you ever experienced a twitch yourself? It’s a little like that! And, whilst this is usually nothing to be concerned about, in rare instances your cat’s tail twitching could be a sign of something underlying so if your cat starts to experience this frequently and out of the blue, contact your vet for a check up!

Why do cats chase their tails?

Ginger cat upside down in cat tree chasing tail - Norsh - cats and their tails

Tail chasing usually means that your cat is bored and needs more stimulation. Make sure pencil in some bonding time with your cat every day, especially if he’s a single kitty. Catnip toys, wand toys, feather toys, and laser pointers for cats are just a few of the fun, easy ways to exercise your kitty.

If you notice your cat frequently chasing or attacking his own tail, it may be a sign of anxiety or another compulsive disorder. Check with your vet if you have any concerns.


Who knew tails could be so perplexing?!

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