A cat with a disgruntled look on its face

Cats may not always follow their owners around dropping clear, audible hints about their preferences, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t communicating. In fact, cats tell us a great deal, but because it’s usually conveyed through subtle body language, messages can get lost.

Cat tails in particular act like barometers for feline emotions, so it’s important to observe and interpret the signals being sent. When we respond accordingly, the relationship between cats and people can become even more trusting and respectful.

The Moods

Cats are often perceived as “moody”. Sure, it can be difficult to read a cat’s mind. But it’s very easy to take a moment to listen to vocalizations, observe their behavior, and what they’re doing with their bodies – particularly their tails.


There are certain feline breeds that are born without tails, or individuals with specific injuries that caused the loss of their tails. These animals can still be enormously expressive, but may lack the levels of nuance usually achieved with long cat tails.

In fact, a great deal can be gleaned just be looking at the position of the tail:

  • Straight up and down typically indicates friendliness, contentment and security
  • If there is a slight curve or bend in the tip, a cat may feel a little uneasy or is showing an interest in playing
  • If it’s low or the tip is flat to the floor, they are experiencing fear or aggression
  • A tucked cat tail shows stress, anxiety, nervousness, or fear
  • Puffy cat tails can mean freaked out or possibly ready to attack

Various Shades

Cat tails can do some truly odd things, such as shake or vibrate, swish, wag, or even whip around. Indeed, cats have great control over their tail movements and employ them to communicate true feelings.

Amazingly, cat tails show curiosity, playfulness, affection, as well as stress and aggression. Cat tails can go from quietly draping around their loved ones arms or legs to puffing out in visual attempts to ward off attacks. They can also go from swishing lazily back and forth to whipping around like a dragon’s tail, depending on the level of perceived threat.

For the Love of Cat Tails

One of the best things ever for cat owners is to see their cat approach them with a vibrating tail. You could be standing nearby when your cat rubs up against your legs. Looking down, if you see their tail all a-flutter with twitchy tail madness, you’re their favorite person in the world. Congrats!

Should You Be Worried?

Cats are highly sensitive animals, and will show their true feelings through body language. Cat owners should pay extra attention to the position, quality, and movement of their cat’s tail to help understand what’s going on behind those beautiful eyes. By responding, you not only gain a deeper appreciation for their feelings, but the respect you show them will deepen the bond between you.

If you notice your cat’s behavior, vocalizations, scent, or general appearance is “off”, please let The Pet Experts know. We’re always here for your cat at Springbrook Animal Care Center!