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Your cat uses body language to communicate how they’re feeling. These body language signals include posture, position of the ears, facial expressions and, of course, that ever-expressive tail. A cat's tail can tell you a lot about what's going on inside their head and is a good indicator of mood. Take a little time to observe your cat's behaviour and you will start to get a feel of the tales the tail tells.
Of course, any body language signal needs to be interpreted together with all the other signals and also needs to take into account the context. But as a general rule, these ‘tell-tail’ signs can help you understand your cat better.
Position: high. When your cat holds their tail high in the air as they move about their territory, they’re expressing confidence and contentment. The Battersea Cats Home says that a tail sticking straight up often means your cat is anticipating something from you, like their favourite toy or cat food. And watch the tip of an erect tail; a little twitch can mean a particularly happy moment.
Position: curved like a question mark over their back. You might consider taking a break from your daily business to play with your cat if you notice a curve in their tail. This tail position often signals a playful mood and tells you your cat is ready to share some fun with you.
Position: low. Watch out! A tail positioned straight down suggests a very serious mood and can signal aggression. However, be aware that certain breeds, such as Persians, tend to carry their tails low for no particular reason.
Position: Wrapped around the feet and/or legs. You’ll often see this when your cat is wary about something.
Position: tucked away. Tucking the tail in close to the body signals fear. Something is making your cat scared.
Position: puffed up. A tail resembling a pipe cleaner means your cat is severely agitated and/or frightened, and is trying to look bigger to ward off danger. Do not attempt to touch your cat when they’re in this state as your skin will fall victim to those razor sharp claws and teeth.
Position: twitching tail. If your cat is twitching their tail rapidly back and forth, the PDSA warns that this is a sign they’re getting upset or angry. Your cat may become aggressive, so consider it a warning to stay away.
Position: swishing tail. A tail swaying slowly from side to side usually means your cat is focused on an object. You might see this tail position right before your cat pounces on a toy or when they’re watching a bird outside the window.
Position: wrapped around another cat. A tail wrapped around another cat conveys friendship and affection, the same way you might show affection by putting your arm around someone.