Do You Know What These 8 Cat Tail Positions Mean?

While all cats are individuals with unique personalities, they do share a common nonverbal language: tail position. And while humans communicate non-verbally more often than you might think, it can still be difficult to interpret what the heck your cat is "saying" with its tail.

So whether you’re a first-time cat owner looking for a Translation Guide to Cat Speak or you’re a seasoned feline fancier who wants to brush, up this quick guide is a great rundown of the basics of cat communication. 

cat tail position cat body language


If your cat's tail is raised and curled or kinked at the end, your cat is one happy camper. You may also notice their ears and whiskers are pointed towards you, indicating that they are happy to see you.


cat body language understanding cat


Depending on the situation, this stiff, slightly twitchy tail can mean excitement or worry. You might see it if your cat is investigating something they are not sure of that they perceive to be a possible threat - or even prey item.


cat tail position cat body language


Again, depending on the context, a huge, puffed up tail can mean excitement (perhaps a case of the post-litterbox "zoomies") or if something has startled them to elicit a fight-or-flight response


understanding cats


You might see this twitchy vibration in your cat's tail when you're about to feed them, or maybe if you get home after a long trip and your cat is ecstatic to see you.


cat upset cat aggression scared cat signs cat stress


To dog owners, this might look like the cat wants to play. But this is cat speak for "BACK OFF."


cat comic cat language


You might see this tail in a cat who slinks away from something they don't like, or even something they are squaring up against. 



You may often see this low, curled tail in kittens who are acting big and tough as they learn to play fight. It can be used to indicate fright, but is also common in cats who are trying to act tough and look "big" and intimidating by puffing up their tail.   


cat wagging tail


Unlike dogs, a "wagging" tail doesn't necessarily indicate excitement or happiness. If you are petting your cat and they begin to lash their tail back and forth, it's likely they are getting overstimulated and are asking you, in their own cat way, to stop. It's best to leave them alone before the claws come out. 


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  • Kat Bull

    My part Maine Coon carries his big floofy tail curled over his back like a Husky dog. He carries it that way 24/7. Its not something he does that reflects an emotion, he just carries it that way. Its very striking and he sometimes wags his tail over his back side to side just like a dog. I’ve owned cats for decades and have never seen one that carries its tail in this fashion. Is this something seen in Maine Coons or Forest Cats? I’m trying to find a picture or video of this.

  • Janet

    Hello, my kitten was eight weeks old when I got her and most of the time her tail is sharply curve straight over her back toward her head she is a seal point Himalayan what does this mean? Thank you

  • Eithan. Just eithan.

    Ok SO i created a story and i want you all to read it! It involves a cat so this should be relevant.

    EIthan Boombox was thinking about Charity Bond again. Charity was a spiteful gamer with pointy lips and squat ankles.
    EIthan walked over to the window and reflected on his grand surroundings. He had always loved pretty Cape Town with its inexpensive, important igloos. It was a place that encouraged his tendency to feel happy.
    Then he saw something in the distance, or rather someone. It was the a spiteful figure of Charity Bond.
    EIthan gulped. He glanced at his own reflection. He was a popular, brave, beer drinker with spiky lips and moist ankles. His friends saw him as a lonely, little lover. Once, he had even revived a dying, baby flamingo.
    But not even a popular person who had once revived a dying, baby flamingo, was prepared for what Charity had in store today.
    The moon shone like boating koalas, making EIthan worried. EIthan grabbed a silver sandwich that had been strewn nearby; he massaged it with his fingers.
    As EIthan stepped outside and Charity came closer, he could see the mushy glint in her eye.
    Charity gazed with the affection of 1013 charming powerful pigeons. She said, in hushed tones, “I love you and I want a fight.”
    EIthan looked back, even more worried and still fingering the silver sandwich. “Charity, d’oh,” he replied.
    They looked at each other with concerned feelings, like two knotty, kindly kittens sleeping at a very peculiar , which had indie music playing in the background and two sinister uncles boating to the beat.
    EIthan regarded Charity’s pointy lips and squat ankles. “I feel the same way!” revealed EIthan with a delighted grin.
    Charity looked puzzled, her emotions blushing like a straight, successful sandwich.
    Then Charity came inside for a nice drink of beer.

    Thank you for reading my story.

  • John with an H

    I agree with my twin, John Shawn.

  • Jon Shawn

    my twin and i have two cats that are also twins. Their names are Ben and Dover! They are the cutest thing ever!

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