kitten and cat tail

Cat tail communication is interesting and can help us respect our cats emotions more accurately.

A cats tail is constantly on the move and one of the most obvious uses is for self-expression.

The position of the tail (and don’t forget other posturing), can give you a really good idea of how your cat is feeling. Some tail positions do have generally accepted interpretations but these may vary from cat to cat.

Social learning is responsible for some of these expressions.  So remember that cats who grew up a bit lonesome and did not spend much time with other cats when they were young may have created their own unique expressions. The best way to learn about what your cat’s tail positions mean is to spend time with you cat. A few of the generally accepted expressions however are available to assist you here:

A cat’s tail is for more than just looks!


This beautiful tail is straight up! Certainly a confident cat.

Tail straight up

Your cat is generally happy, confident, or excited. Interestingly, this tail position is meaningful within the cat social hierarchy. Cats of a lower social status will give a tail up to cats of a higher social position.

Question mark tail (tail straight up with a curve at the tip)

This tail means that your cat is in a friendly mood and accepting of social interaction. Yes, he is more than likely ready for play!

Low tail

A tail held low could be a position of playfulness or of caution. So take a look at the whole body and happenings around your cat for a better assessment of events.

Slowly swishing tail

A tail that is slowly moving back and forth could mean that your kitty has found something that has captured his/her attention ( a bird, a bug, etc).  He is focusing on something.

Cat demonstrating a Question Mark tail

The classic question mark tail – a playful mood

Flicking tail

Watch out.  This is  a bad mood indicator and means that your cat is annoyed. It can be a good indication that they are not enjoying being petted at the moment. Give them a little space as they may be experiencing a little sensory overload.

Tucked tail

This is a similar indication in dogs.  Just like dogs, the tucked tail position is indicative of fear and submission.

Puffy tail

Don’t approach a cat with a puffy tail and an arched back. These cats are fearful and defensive. They are poised to attack at any time. Walk away and give them some space.


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