Why Do Cats Wag Their Tails



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A cat’s tail is one of its most expressive features. You can tell a lot about a feline’s mood by its body language. Understanding the reason behind tail swishing can help you be a more considerate pet parent.

Cats utilize their tail’s motion as a communication tool, and learning to interpret the different tail signs will give you an insight into your cat’s moods.

Why Do Cats Wag Their Tails. Pickles the black cat, walking through grass with his tail out behind him, in front of bushes.

Your cat’s tail position and the direction and speed of wagging can tell you whether your cat is happy, slightly annoyed, or in pain. In this article, we will learn why cats wag their tails and how to read a cat’s tail language. Let’s dive in!

Why Do Cats Wag Their Tails?

A cat’s wagging tail can indicate two things. They could be happy and at ease, or they could be stressed and anxious. But how will you tell the difference? The key is to observe their behavioral cues.

A cat swishing its tail at a slow and relaxed pace while purring and leaning in means it is content and cheerful.

But if your cat starts hissing, growling, and raising its ears when you approach to pet it, then it is unhappy and restless. In this case, you should back off and give it some space.

You will also see your cat wagging its tail when playing. These tail movements are a result of predatory instincts. Sometimes, it will also jiggle its back paws and shoulder blades.

You will see a spark and flare in your cat’s movements as it prepares to pounce on an object. Cats wag their tails during playtime due to excitement, but it is also a sign of focus.

Tail wagging can also be a sign of pain. Some other symptoms that can mean your cat is in heat or pain are loss of appetite, lethargy, withdrawal from affection, hostile behavior, walking with a different gait, etc.

Be attentive to the entire spectrum of signals your cat displays. If you suspect your cat is ill, immediately take it to your trusted vet.

How To Read Your Cat’s Tail Language

Tail wagging has been the focus of much animal behaviorist research for feline owners to understand their cats better. Knowing your cat’s body language will strengthen your bond with it.

Let us break down the meaning behind different feline tail positions:

Upright Tail

When your cat wags its tail in an upright position, then it feels confident and cheery. You will often see this tail movement when you enter the house, and your cat comes to greet you because it is happy to see you.

According to a study on feline behavior and how they communicate with others, cats are more likely to move towards a catlike outline with a straight tail but hesitate to approach if it has a drooping tail.

The study concluded that by keeping its tail straight, a cat signals it is friendly and willing to interact with other cats or humans. So, when your cat advances toward you with a raised tail, it wants to play with you!

Tail Wrapped Around You

Just like humans wrap their arms around someone to embrace them in a warm hug, wrapping its tail around you is your cat’s way of hugging you. It is a show of affection, trust, and relaxation.

You will often see a mother wrapping her tail around her kittens. This gesture is common between two cats who live in the same house and have a strong bond! If two cats wrap their tails around each other, it signifies friendship and love.

Shivering Tail

When a cat’s tail is erect, and its whole length starts quivering, it signals that your cat is excited. You will see your cat’s tail quiver when you bring home a new toy or give treats.

Lowered or Puffed Tail

An anxious or frightened cat often puffs up its tail. Your cat is trying to appear bigger by puffing its tail and arching its body upwards to scare off the opponent.

A lowered tail indicates your cat is restless, afraid, or defensive. And if it tucks its tail between its legs, it is a sure sign of fear.

When this happens, you can expect aggressive behavior or an attack, so it is best not to provoke and back off gently to give the cat space to calm down.

Swaying the Tail Side-to-Side

A cat slowly wagging its entire tail indicates it is focused on something. A swishing tail and perked-up ears mean your cat is enticed by an insect or a toy and is getting ready to hunt. This predatory stance is generally seen in wild cats gearing up to pounce on their prey.

Thrashing Tail

Although dogs display happy behavior when they thrash their tails swiftly, cats thrashing or thumping their tails loudly against the floor means they are distressed, agitated, and unhappy.

Roughly whipping their tails back and forth, coinciding with flat ears and her body crouched low, is a sign of fear and will most likely be followed by aggressive and aloof behavior.

Curling Their Tail Around Them

Your cat will indicate nervousness by sitting with its tail coiled around its frame. It often means something in the surroundings is making it uneasy. Wrapping the tail around the body makes them feel secure and protected.

It can also mean that your furry friend wishes to be left alone and does not want to interact with you.

It would be best not to confuse this position with how cats sleep by tucking their tails and nuzzling their heads toward their chest. This cozy pose conserves heat and keeps them warm while sleeping.

Final Thoughts on a Cats Tail Language

A cat’s different tail wags can give you insights into its mood, but you should not take every move as an attempt at communication. Some movements can be involuntary as a result of environmental stimuli.

It would be best to look for additional cues like meowing, purring, or hissing to understand your cat’s communication.

Before you go, you might find these articles helpful:

Why Does My Cat Meow Before Jumping?

Can I Give My Cat Scrambled Eggs

What Is Abnormal Behaviour In Cats

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