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Tail Signals in Cats

It's the tail end of the cat that's so expressive

 

MetPet.com Staff Writer

Are cats considered mysterious because they have very few facial expressions?  Do cats always look arrogant because they don't smile?  We're just looking at the wrong end to get an emotional read on our feline friends! 

Almost everyone understands the wagging tail of the dog, the tail of the cat, however, is still a big mystery to most.  A cat's tail is very expressive if you know what to look for.  Here are some basic tail signals and what they are generally thought to signify.

Tail lowered with just the tip curved up.   This is a happy, relaxed cat.

Tail gently switching from side-to-side.   This is a cat who has noticed something interesting like a bird at the window or the scratching sounds of a mouse.  It can also signify indecision as to what to do next such as to climb a tree or stay on the ground. 

If you approach a cat like this, she could be wondering whether you're friendly or not. 

Tail straight up.  This is a friendly cat that is coming forward to greet you.  If the tip is bent, this could mean he is a little insecure about his reception.

Tail tip swishing quickly and sharply from side-to-side.  This cat is irritated or angry.  If pushed, it could swipe with a paw or even bite. 

Tail swishing quickly and violently from side-to-side.  This is an angry or seriously frightened cat that could be getting ready to attack or flee.  It's best to back off until he calms down.

Staring at a cat is both threatening and provocative.  It's best to look away and move away until the tail switching stops. 

Tail bristled.  This is an aroused cat.  If lowered it can mean fear.  If the tail is up, it can mean an aggressive cat.   Cats bristle their tails and the fur on their bodies when aroused.  This makes them look larger than they are in an attempt to intimidate whatever is worrying or bothering them. 

Tail held straight up and quivering as the cat is backed up against a vertical object like a bush or tree.  This is a cat that is marking its territory with urine.  If a cat is doing this inside your house, it's time to get out the cleaner and find your cat another hobby.

Related Information:
Cats Marking Your Vents
How to Greet a Cat

 
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