Contrary to popular opinion, cats know exactly what they want and how to get it. Using incredibly direct, yet bafflingly subtle, tactics they appeal to our generous natures for affection, attention, and occasional treats in exchange for a little human-feline conversation. 

While we don’t share the same language, we can definitely understand cats better when we pay close attention to feline behavior. And in order to do that, we must recognize the power of the tail!

A Distinctive Voice

People that love cats know that they’re excellent communicators. They use head bumps, vocal chirps and meows, and slow eye blinks to indicate their moods and desires to the humans that care for them. 

Conversely, when cats “speak” to one another, they don’t often meow. Instead, they show what they’re thinking via a complex system of feline body language that includes scent marking and tail positioning.

Up, Down, All Around

To really get a grip on feline behavior, take a look at how your cat is holding their tail. For example:

  • Up and Pointy – A cat that approaches you with a vertically straight tail is signaling friendliness. They are feeling happy and positive about an encounter.
  • Down Low – When a cat feels doubt or fear, they hold their tail close to the hind legs, with the tip towards the floors. They could be preparing to launch into full-blown aggression or defensiveness, and their tail signals that. 
  • Back Behind – Take extra care when the tail is rigid and pressed back behind the. This shows that the cat is uncomfortable.
  • The Tuck – Fear and uncertainty of a situation’s outcome may drive a cat to tuck their tail between their back legs. You may quickly see that this aspect of feline behavior escalates into a full display that includes hissing, yowling, and pinned-back ears.
  • Curvy – This position is to communicate playfulness, confidence, or openness. The tail will be upright, but relaxed and slightly curved at the tip.
  • Puffy – Cats have a neat way of conveying emotion through the quality of their fur coat. If you see a bristled or puffy-looking tail, they may be waiting for a provocation following a fright. They are trying to appear larger this way toward any threats. 

Endearing Feline Behavior 

Cats have the amazing ability to show affection through feline behavior. They use their tail to wrap around their beloved human, and their tail seems to linger when making passes through the ankles when you’re standing near them. What’s more, cats shake or vibrate their upright tail when they are close to the person they love the most. 

Alternatively, a whipping or swishing tail is meant to display agitation. You might see them thump their tail on the ground prior to a pounce or ambus.

We Speak Cat

Remember, cats try really hard to conceal signs of illness or injury. By paying extra close attention to feline behavior, and making notes about any changes in their patterns, we can address any threats to their wellness.

If you have further questions about your adorable cat’s tail, please reach out to our staff. We are always here for you at Fairview Veterinary Hospital.