There are many ways that domestic felines choose to communicate. They have slow eye blinks that say “I love you” and head bumps to say “I’m Yours”. They also chirp at prey, twitch their whiskers, and puff up their fur coats to appear larger to potential threats,.
But at the forefront of feline body language, the tail is particularly skilled at signaling a cat’s likes, dislikes and deepest desires.
Beavers slap their tails to warn of danger. Horses whip their tails to swat away flies. Dogs wag their tails in a certain way to indicate emotion.
Similarly, a cat’s tail is not just a tail. While primarily used for balance, their tail serves to communicate a feline’s physical and emotional state. Together with individualized meows and scent cues, owners can put together the subtleties of feline body language.
We may not speak the same language, but we can definitely take some important cues from the feline tail. The following tail positions are the most common denominators of feline body language, and their meanings speak volumes:
- A straight up tail is a sign of happiness and friendliness. You can approach them easily and with confidence.
- A slight curve at the tip of the tail can signal playfulness. If it dips slightly, they may be waiting to see what will happen.
- When positioned low to the ground, a cat tail communicates doubt or even fear. This feline body language does not inspire a positive interaction, and aggression may be seen.
- A tucked tail is a demonstration of fear. You may witness hissing or yowling as they defend themselves against perceived threats.
- A puffy tail can signal alarm or aggression.
- A whipping tail, side to side, is a warning to others that an attack may be forthcoming. A slightly swishing tail is just a sign that they see something enticing and they’re preparing for a sensorial investigation.
- Watch for a thumping tail; they do this right before a pounce.
- A twitchy tail can mean the cat is beside themselves with glee at their relative proximity to their favorite person or thing.
- A tail that wraps itself around a human arm or leg shows absolute warmth.
Feline Body Language
Having an understanding of feline body language can go a long way toward peaceful cohabitation. When you know what your cat wants, needs and likes, you can watch their tail for confirmation. Similarly, an awareness of what triggers certain aggressive behaviors can help you remove triggers from your cat’s environment.
Your cat’s personality is unique to them. It is essential to take this into consideration when assessing feline body language at home. Observe their body and tail positioning, daily patterns, specific behaviors, and their vocalizations. Combined with an understanding of what their tail is trying to tell you, you’ll have a firm grasp on feline body language.
We Speak Cat!
Evendale-Blue Ash Pet Hospital is always happy to discuss the intricacies of feline body language. In fact, we love cats so much that we are fluent in the ways they communicate. As always, please let us know if you have further questions or concerns about your cat’s health and behavior.