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."


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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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  • Morgan Sumler

    My cat is seven weeks old and he curls his tail in words and I am just trying to figure out what that means

  • Jean Jenn

    “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.”

    Ummm……no, cat will NOT seem ecstatic to see you after a long trip……you must be PUNISHED for a while, first.

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