Why Do Cats Wag Their Tails?

The tail of a cat is an extension of its spine that’s why it is very sensitive. In fact, approximately 10% of cat’s bones in its body can be found in its tail. With all that being said, what does it mean when your cat wags its tail?

Cats’ tails are actually used for so many things such as for maintaining balance when they are jumping or walking on a narrow surface. They are used as a communication aid too.

If a dog wags its tail, it is obviously a sign of happiness; but it’s different when it comes to a cat. 

cat happy

Cat’s tail can move slowly or quickly. It will depend on the emotion a cat has. Understanding your cat’s tail language is very significant because it will help you know the proper way to respond to it and to avoid aggression.

Reasons Why Cats Move Their Tails

There can be lots of reasons behind your cat’s tail wagging. Your cat does that mainly as a form of communication. Tailless cats like Manx can also communicate using their tail by moving their small tubs of tails as if they have a long one.

The following are the possible meanings of a cat’s tail talk:

1. Fear

Some cats get scared and startle easily but there are specific things which they can be scared of. Cats can be afraid of so many things such as a veterinary visit, new people, and loud sounds. When a cat is scared, its tail is tacked away and wagging low to the ground.

Sometimes, a cat can get scared if it feels threatened. Looking directly into its eyes can make it feel that way. You should blink slowly to make it feel that you are not a threat. You should avoid the things that can make cats afraid because fear can lead to aggression.

2. Annoyed

Too much cuddling can make your pet annoyed because it feels overstimulated. Annoyance can be noticed through the twitching from the tip of its tail. If your cat is starting to feel this way, you should stop petting it for a while then just try again after a few hours.

Cats can be annoyed because of pests too. Pests are irritating and annoying indeed as they come near you. Cats feel the same way because it is uncomfortable when insects come near them. You will notice swishing of your cat’s tail.

3. Upset

Like us, cats get upset too. Cats can get sad if they are left alone and this might even cause separation anxiety to your cat. Less activity can make them lonely too. If you happen to be tired as you get home and you don’t have time to play and do activities with your cat, it affects your cat’s emotion.

You can notice the sadness in your cat through its tail. The tail of a sad cat swishes softly while it is raised up. Make sure to pay attention to avoid behavioral problems with your cat.

cute little cat swinging tail

4. Hunting

Movement of your cat’s tail can be noticed if it is in hunter mode. Birds, mice, and cockroaches are some of the animals that a cat hunts. Specializing in hunting, cats are much focused and highly intelligent when it comes to doing their tactics.

Outdoor cats are more likely to do this than indoor cats because they don’t have cat foods to eat. Due to that, feral cats are considered pests in some countries.

Aside from the reason that they are natural hunters, indoor cats hunt sometimes because they want to be praised by their owners. You will notice tiny side to side movement of your cat’s tail if it is focused on hunting.

5. Excited

A cat can feel excited because of so many reasons and one of those is food. Your cat knows if it is time for a meal and it surely can’t wait for you to feed it. Excitement can be noticed with fast flicks of your cat’s tail.

Toys and treats can make your cat happy as well. You should also bring your cat outside to get some walks to make it enthusiastic. If you have an active cat, fun activities will definitely make it excited.

6. It Is Relaxed

Relaxation is important in managing your cat’s stress and anxiety. Massage, music, and catnip can make a cat relaxed. The tail of a relaxed cat moves slowly and gently. When your cat is not stressed, it feels secure and it’s open for interaction.

7. It Is Greeting You

Cats miss their owners whenever they are not around. They welcome them at the door as they arrive at the house by rubbing themselves against their owners’ legs. The tail of the cat that is greeting its owner moves in a quivering motion.

8. It is Angry (Can be Aggressive)

If your cat is angry, watch out because it might lead to aggression if not handled properly. An aggressive cat can end up biting and scratching its owner which can be deadly if not treated. Cats get mad when being teased, when feeling a pain, when depressed or when threatened because they’ll feel like they have to protect themselves.

A mad cat’s tail is puffy and moves fast back and forth and slaps the ground. The movement of your cat’s tail is fast when it is about to get aggressive and it might be affected by the conditions like a broken tail abscess, stud tail, and tail paralysis.

9. Medical Condition

Not all tail wags are normal. Sometimes, cat’s wagging tail can be a sign of a certain disease that your cat has. Medical conditions can cause the wagging of the tail and one of the most known conditions related to this is Hyperesthesia.

A cat with this condition (also known as “twitchy cat disease”) will have an abnormal increase in the sensitivity of its skin. You will notice tail chasing, biting, and twitching in your cat if it is suffering from this health condition.

In Summary

A cat’s tail is communicative and expressive. That is very important as a cat language. Since its body language is restrained, it might be difficult for you to understand your pet’s mood. Your cat can express itself in so many ways and you can notice those through different tail movements.

As an owner, it is highly significant to perceive your cat’s tail language because it will be able to help you in so many ways.

Kathy Hills
Kathy Hills

I have been an animal lover since I was a small child. My mother sold Watkins products in a small town in North Dakota and when delivering the product to people who lived on farms I would get out of the car first to distract the dog (most farms had at least one dog) for my mother (she was afraid of dogs) as she went to the door. I was her "dog decoy." I have worked with animals my entire adult life, mainly as a VET.

Leave a Reply