Interpreting the Tail

February 7th, 2019


Cat’s have many different ways of expressing their feelings and communicating. It is common for us humans to interpret what our cat may be feeling by paying close attention to their posture, facial expressions and the position of their ears. Another big indicator to closely at when a cat is expressing themselves is the tail. A cat’s tail can be a deep insight in to your cats emotions. The following tail movements and positions will give you some insight into what your cat is feeling:

Vertical Tail

A cat that has its tail in an upright, vertical position is often considered to be a friendly greeting or that they are in a playful mood. If there is an added tail quiver when your cat sees you, it means they are happy, content and confident to be around you as it is an added greeting.

A tail that is upright, but more arched, usually means they are defensive or ready to attack and do not wish to interact.

Wrapped Tail

Cats will often wrap their tail around your arm, leg or neck to show affection. Along with a headbutt from a cat, this is one of the major signs to show that a cat truly loves you an feels confident around you.

Tail Flick

When a cat’s tail is in a lower position, extended firmly and is flicking back and forth, this usually means they are showing their displeasure or signs of offensive aggression. It often happens just before a cat is ready to pounce as they stalk their prey.

This tail flick is common in environments where the cat does not feel comfortable (i.e. the vets) or if it is slow, confident movement, this can sometimes mean the cat is relaxed and just surveying their environment.

Fluffed Tail

When a cat senses they are in danger or are confronted by another animal, it’s very common for them to fluff up their tail and arch their back. This is to make themselves appear bigger and scarier to whatever they perceive is the danger.

Cats are very expressive creatures and more often than not will use their tails to express their emotions and feelings. It takes their whole body to truly show what they are feeling as each part of them will react in a certain way to different situations. Taking time to observe the movements your cat makes will help you to better interpret what your cat wants, helping to build a trusting bond between the both of you.


The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the writer. Content published here does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Petplan.

One Response to “Interpreting the Tail”

  1. Viktoria Varnikova says:

    I’ve always had dogs. And when my father brought a kitten, I knew nothing about its behavior. I thought that wagging tails is the same as for dogs. I was really surprised when I read the article