Why Do Cats Wag Their Tails?

The tail of a cat is an extension of the spine, which may explain why it’s so very sensitive. What’s more, approximately 10% of the bones in a cat’s body can be found in the tail. So what does it mean when your cat wags its tail?

Cats’ tails are used for many things. They use them to maintain balance when they are jumping or walking on a narrow surface. They use them to communicate, too.

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

cat happy

A cat’s tail can move slowly or quickly and in many cases, the speed depends on the emotional state of the cat. Understanding your cat’s tail language is very important because it will help you know the proper way to respond to it and help you avoid aggressive interactions.

Eight Reasons Why Cats Move Their Tails

There can be lots of reasons behind your cat’s tail movements. Your cat does it mainly as a form of communication. Tailless cats like Manx can also communicate using their tail by moving their small tail nubs in the same way other cats do with their long tails.

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

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1. Fear

Some cats get scared and startle easily. Cats can be afraid of so many things, like a veterinary visit, new people, or loud sounds. When a cat is scared, the tail is tucked away and kept low to the ground.

Sometimes, a cat can get scared if it feels threatened. Looking directly into their eyes can make some cats feel that way. You might want to try blinking slowly to make the cat understand that you are not a threat. You should avoid things you know can make your cat afraid because fear can lead to stress, aggression, and other unwanted behaviors.

2. Annoyed

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

Cats can be annoyed because of other cats entering their territory. Cats are highly territorial and should they see other cats encroaching, even through windows, they can display annoyance. You’ll notice a swishing of your cat’s tail when this happens.

3. Hunting

Your cat moves her tail in a particular way when she is in hunter mode. Birds, mice, and cockroaches are some of the animals that a cat hunts. Specializing in hunting, cats are very focused and highly intelligent when it comes to executing the tactics of the hunt.

Outdoor cats are more likely to do this than indoor cats because they have more hunting opportunities there. You will notice a tiny side-to-side flicker of movement in your cat’s tail if she is focused on hunting.

cute little cat swinging tail

4. Excited

A cat can feel excited because of many reasons and one of those is food-related. Your cat knows when it’s time for a meal and he surely can’t wait for you to feed him. Excitement can sometimes be noticed by fast flicks of your cat’s tail.

Toys and treats can make your cat happy as well. If you have an active cat, play activity will definitely make him excited.

5. She 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 open for interaction.

6. He 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 a cat that is greeting its owner may move in a quivering motion.

cat lying on rug and wags its tail

7. She 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 serious if not treated. Cats get mad when being teased, when feeling pain, when depressed, or when threatened.

A mad cat’s tail is typically puffy, moves back and forth quickly, and may even slap the ground. The movement of your cat’s tail is fast when it is about to get aggressive.

8. Medical Condition

Not all tail wags are normal. Sometimes, a cat’s wagging tail can be a sign of disease. Medical conditions can cause the tail to wag 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 she is suffering from this health condition.

In Summary

A cat’s tail is communicative and expressive and is a very important element in cat language. Since feline body language is restrained, it might be difficult for you to understand your cat’s mood. Your cat can express itself in so many ways through tail movements!

As an owner, it behooves you to understand what your cat’s tail movements mean so you can ensure your cat is safe and getting her needs met.

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