Why do cats wag their tails

Yanko Dann

Yanko Dann

Cat person always has been and always will be. Come and get to know my love in words for cats, not just mine.

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This is a question that many cat owners have tried to answer. The more you consider, the more complicated it becomes.

When I got my first cat, I was wondering about this too. There are so many hypotheses out there but no one would ever know for sure…the only thing we can be certain of is that each tail’s movement has its own meaning!

From calming signals to aggressive warnings, let me teach you how to decipher your beloved feline friend’s language!

Here is a shortlist of common signals:

– When the tail is upright and slowly wagging, your cat is probably feeling relaxed.  For example, this may be the case when you are petting him/her on their back or softly scratching their chin.

– If the tail sticks straight up and starts wagging frantically, that means excitement. It happens often just before mealtime!

– A slightly tilted position means it’s time to be cautious around others – especially other cats. Your cat is telling you “I don’t feel like playing”.

– The tail tucked between the legs tells us they are scared or uncomfortable with what’s going on (mostly because of another animal). Beware, if your animal felt threatened in some way, you’d better keep a close eye on the other one.

– If your cat is surrounded by people and his tail starts moving in circles instead of straight up and down, it means they feel comfortable in that environment. If they’re wagging their tails to the side, however, that’s when you should be concerned about their emotions. A part of fearfulness or insecurity can come with an excess of excitement which might result with them hurting themselves when trying to play too hard when surrounded by people. Our cat uses this “excited” form of tail wag only during the day!  The rest of the time (i.e: night), she keeps her tail very still and doesn’t show any signs of anxiety or happiness.

Now that we’ve reviewed the basics of tail positions, let’s see how they change when we add another element: movement!

– A light and slow wagging with a downward curve is what you should probably start worrying about if your cat suddenly starts moving like this:  it usually means some displeasure or unhappiness. This type of tail movement can come from feeling irritated or anxious as well as feeling stressed because of loud noises such as fireworks. The more someone approaches, the worse it gets…

– When your animal starts to lash his/her tail back and forth quickly while holding it upright, then he/she is probably feeling threatened and might be on the verge of aggressive behavior i.e: “I’m not scared of you and I don’t want you to come any closer”.

– If they feel extremely threatened, your cat might try to puff up their fur and focus all attention on the aggressor. When they lash their tail quickly and forcefully while holding it low, this is what we call a “full defensive mode” and they are most likely going to attack! ┬áThis type of behavior most often comes from outside aggression – such as dogs or other cats that invade his/her territory. This can also happen when frightened by loud noises such as fireworks (explained in detail later). It is best to stay out of harm’s way at that point because there is no telling how much damage your pet will do if he/she was cornered.

– A slow and light wagging while their head is low and ears are back meant you should probably get ready to pet your kitty on the head because it’s happy time! ­čÖé ┬áJust like we pat our own dog’s head when he does something good, this is your cat’s way of asking for a little love.

I hope these short explanations help you understand better how cats communicate with us (and hopefully with other animals too)! Let me know in the comments below if there’s anything I missed or anything you’d like me to explain in more detail!

Cat’s tail positions and movements

– If the tail sticks straight up and starts wagging frantically, that means excitement. It happens often just before mealtime!

– A slightly tilted position means it’s time to be cautious around others – especially other cats. Your cat is telling you “I don’t feel like playing”.

– The tail tucked between the legs tells us they are scared or uncomfortable with what’s going on (mostly because of another animal). Beware, if your animal felt threatened in some way, you’d better keep a close eye on the other one.

– Now that we’ve reviewed the basics of tail positions, let’s see how they change when we add another element: movement!

– A light and slow wagging with a downward curve is what you should probably start worrying about if your cat suddenly starts moving like this:  it usually means some displeasure or unhappiness. This type of tail movement can come from feeling irritated or anxious as well as feeling stressed because of loud noises such as fireworks. The more someone approaches, the worse it gets…

– When your animal starts to lash his/her tail back and forth quickly while holding it upright, then he/she is probably feeling threatened and might be on the verge of aggressive behavior i.e: “I’m not scared of you and I don’t want you to come any closer”.

Why does my cat’s tail slowly swishes?

– When they lash their tail quickly and forcefully while holding it low, this is what we call a “full defensive mode” and they are most likely going to attack!  This type of behavior most often comes from outside aggression – such as dogs or other cats that invade his/her territory. This can also happen when frightened by loud noises such as fireworks (explained in detail later). It is best to stay out of harm’s way at that point because there is no telling how much damage your pet will do if he/she was cornered…

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