Decoding the Language of Cat Tails

A cat’s tail is a fascinating and exquisite thing. Not only does it serve as an anatomical marvel, but it also plays a significant role in feline communication. By understanding the language of “cat tail talk,” you can deepen your bond with your furry friend. Let’s explore some of the most intriguing cat tail signs and their meanings.

1. The Elevated Tail

Imagine coming home and being greeted by Sinéad and Siouxsie, your adorable kittens, with their tails held high in the air. This joyful display, accompanied by purrs and head bonks, signifies their overwhelming love and excitement. Undoubtedly, it’s a language that requires no translation.

Two cats with their tails in the air.Two cats with their tails in the air. Photography courtesy JaneA Kelley.

2. The Curious Hook

When a cat approaches you with an erect tail that ends in a tiny hook, it’s a friendly yet cautious invitation. This gesture says, “I’m curious and a little unsure. May I come closer?” Shelter cats often exhibit this behavior, and even your own feline companions may do the same when guests come over. Once you greet them warmly, their tails straighten out, and they shower you with head bonks and affection.

A girl sitting on a bench petting a cat.Photography by mimagephotography / Shutterstock.

3. The Tip Twitch

While petting your cat, you may notice a slight twitch at the tip of her tail. This is an early indication that your cat is becoming overstimulated and would like you to ease off. Pay attention to this polite request when you see the tip twitch.

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A woman on her computer, hugging a cat.If your cat’s tail twitches, it’s time to take a break from pets, cuddles, and other forms of affection. Photography ©cyano66 | Thinkstock.

4. The Sassy Flip

When I scold Bella, my mischievous feline, for jumping on the counter while I prepare her food, she retaliates with a single tail flip. I interpret this sassy behavior as the feline equivalent of a teenage smart-ass comment, and I jokingly respond, “Don’t you dare twitch your tail at me, young lady!”

A gray and white cat with her tail up.The single tail flip is a sassy sign. Photography ©GlobalP | Thinkstock.

5. The Tail Hug

Picture this: Thomas, my adorable companion, climbs into my lap while I’m working on the computer. He either wraps his tail around my wrist or drapes himself over my arm, creating a heart-melting “tail hug.” Every time it happens, my heart melts with love.

A hairless cat with a curled tail.A cat with a curled tail. Photography by Dan Kosmayer / Shutterstock.

6. The Exclamation Point

Startling Bella causes her to jump backward, with her tail instantly shooting straight up and all her fur standing on end. This exclamation point tail signifies a mixture of surprise and excitement. For Bella, it seems to convey the message, “You shocked me, and I secretly enjoyed it!” In response, I gently stroke her tail and playfully ask, “Oh, Bella, what made you all fluffed up?” It’s then time for reassuring scratches around her neck and ears, gradually calming her down.

7. Cat Tail Tag

Thomas absolutely adores playing tail tag with Bella. He flicks his tail back and forth, captivating Bella’s attention as she excitedly tries to swat at it. The game of tail tag is a source of great entertainment for them both.

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A cat going on a hunt.A hunting cat stretches her tail just behind her. Photography by LeniKovaleva / Shutterstock.

8. The Hunting Stance

When my cats adopt a crouched position while stalking rodents or engaging with their favorite interactive toys, their tails stretch out behind them. You may notice a slight twitch at the very end of their tails, as if releasing some of the pent-up adrenaline.

Understanding these “tail talk” phrases will undoubtedly deepen your connection with your beloved feline companion. Cats have a unique way of expressing their emotions through their tails, allowing us a glimpse into their world. So, the next time your cat communicates through her tail, remember to respond with love and understanding.

Tell us: What are your favorite “tail talk” phrases? Share them in the comments. Bonus points if you have photos or videos capturing these adorable moments of feline communication.

This piece was originally published in 2017.

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