Everyone wants to be able to communicate more with their beloved pets. While we might not be able to talk to our cat in the Dr. Dolittle sense of the word our cat is telling you more than you may know on a daily basis, all you have to do is be a keen observer of his cat tail language. That’s right! Not only is your cat’s tail integral to his balance and hunting prowess it is also a way that your cat portrays signals as to his current demeanor. Below are some examples of cat body language related to tail positions and what signs your cat is giving you about his mood:
1. Question Mark Tail
Hopefully everyone has seen this tail position in their cat. This is an upright tail position with a curled tip at the end, or the cat question mark tail. This position signifies that your cat is good mood and is relaxed and happy with his environment.
2. Straight upright
This is a straight fully erect cat tail, there is no curvature to this tail position. Sometime referred to as a hello flag this is a cat that is signaling and introduction to you or another cat. A cat will frequently rub his face or body on you following approach with this tail position. Cats learn this behavior from being a kitten and approaching mom with this position to be cleaned.
3. Quivering erect tail
This tail can be seen in cats that are spraying, or marking territory. This could be a mixture of cat tail language. In a spraying sense it is your cat showing he is uncomfortable in his environment, either do to another cat, feeling the desire to mate, or not feeling like enough of the house is his. He is trying to tell you that this is his area so he feels more at home in this case. In other instances a cat may quiver his tail up against your leg in this man as a symbol of how much he loves you and feels you are a part of his pride.
4. Puffed arched tail
Much like the question mark tail this display of cat language is probably one that everyone has seen. This is a cat that is threatened. They will arch their back and fluff themselves up to look as large as possible. It is not necessarily that this cat is going to attack, but they are telling you that they are ready to if necessary.
5. Wrapped around body
Another common place cat tail position is the tail wrapped around the body while he is sitting down. Just as the quivering tail this tail position can have a couple meanings to it so judge based upon your cats normal behavior. If this is a cat that has been in the home for a while and is sitting down in his favorite spot with his tail curled around his body this is a content and happy cat telling you he isn’t moving anytime soon. In the case however of a new cat that you might have brought into your home this same position can be a defensive posture signifying that it is protecting as much of its body as possible.
6. Between the legs
The vet position, as I like to call it. This cat is in an uncomfortable or unfamiliar situation. It feels fear and is using his tail as a reflex to cover his vulnerable area, his belly region. Cats know that all of their vital organs are contained in this area and so he is doing all he can to protect it until he is comfortable with his surroundings.
7. Cat wagging tail
A cat tail is not a dog tail. Your cat wagging his tail in this sense is the opposite of a wagging tail in a dog, he is irritated at something. The differential in cat tail wagging though is the amount of tail that is wagging. I am sure you have all seen your cat flicking the tip of his tail while the majority of the tail base is stationary, mainly while playing. This is a sign of focus, your cat is locked in on an item, and you will frequently see this right before they pounce as well. If you are petting your cat however and his entire tail is wagging, you may be doing something he doesn’t like, in my cats this is with their tummies.
Please keep in mind with all of the above that these are general cat behavior signs. Somethings will always vary from pet to pet and a majority of these behaviors are things that the cat should learn through their mothers. With kittens not spending enough time with their parents due to over breeding some of these behaviors are not always learned. Keep this in mind especially when adopting a pet from a shelter that each of them has their own individual, often sad, story. Your cat will do his or her best to communicate with you but you need to do your best to understand where they are coming from and strive to create a happy home for them and understand what they are trying to tell you. I hope these guidelines help you in understanding your cat so you can provide them with the loving home they deserve.