Cat Tail Position Meanings

Cats are often misunderstood by their pet parents. As fascinating as feline creatures are, they still can’t talk and tell us what they want or need. And while they have enviably evolved senses like sight or hearing, they still can’t speak our language.

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We often misinterpret our kitty’s demands, needs and wishes due to the lack of a mutual language. And while some breeds, such as the Oriental Shorthair, are quite vocal, the excessive meowing and the chirping sounds don’t really give us a good insight on what the cat wants.

Fortunately, there are ways to understand your kitty through monitoring its body language.

A cat’s tail position and movement speaks eloquently on its own. While dogs, for example, tend to simply wag their tails, cats have a unique and delectable way of communicating through a vast variety of tail movements.

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Your kitty’s tail indicates different things depending on the angle it’s lifted on and the way it’s curved. The tail position can show contentedness without purring and fear or aggression without hissing. In other words, the tail alone can give you a pretty good idea of what your cat is feeling and how it perceives its current surroundings.

So, without further ado, let’s talk about the various cat tail positions and the diverse meaning behind them.

Cat tail positions

The following positions are just the basic cat tail positions and each of them has a special meaning depending on the given situation and the thing, which is occupying your kitty’s mind at a certain moment.


This particular tail position can vary depending on the way your cat is stretching its tail up high, quivering it up high or even raising it up at a 90 degree angle. If your feline pal is holding its tail up high in a vertical position it translates as contentedness and amicability. This occurs when the cat is feeling safe, confident and happy.

A mom will often raise her tail up high when greeting the kittens or urging them to follow her. The quivering of a raised tail also indicates that the cat is pleased to see its owner, kittens or other pets residing in its home.

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If your furball’s tail is raised back at a 90 degree angle it indicates that your pet is feeling uncertain, but not threatened. This is a typical tail position for greeting newcomers into your home.

Hooked or curved at the top

The hooked, a.k.a. curved at the top tail also indicates uncertainty and a bit of insecurity. In this position your fluffy pet’s tail resembles the curve of a question mark at the top. And that’s exactly how your feline is feeling – unsure and cautious. Fortunately, if the tail is still raised up high while being hooked or curved, it means the cat feels friendly. However, it is still guarded, even though it’s expecting a positive outcome from its surroundings.

Furthermore, the hooked tail can also indicate the need to engage in a play session. When you spot the curved question mark, try taking a break from your current tasks to play with the cat.

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Every kitty out there needs some play time. If you can’t devote a sufficient amount of your leisure time to attending to your pet’s needs, stock up on lots of interactive cat toys. You can make them even more appealing for the kitty with a few spritz of catnip spray.


Beware of the low positioned tail! Fear and aggression are the two most common reasons behind the low tail. Scratches, bites and similar attacks may occur soon if you don’t give the cat some space to calm down.

Of course, a sudden noise or an unfamiliar scent may also trigger aggression, so this particular tail position doesn’t mean that your cat is irritated with you or its surroundings. Moreover, some feline breeds like the Persian do tend to keep their tails positioned like this most of the time. Thus, if you own a Persian kitty the tail position doesn’t necessarily indicate aggression. Nevertheless, it’s better to be safe than sorry and to give your furball some space.

Tucked in between the legs

This particular tail position is an unmistakable indicator that the cat is feeling nervous and submissive. It can show that the kitty is guilty, afraid or simply stressed out.

When the tail is tucked in between the legs the feline is severely upset and it perceives itself as the submissive creature in a potentially threatening situation. Your cat may be scared of you, another animal or even an inanimate object.

In such cases it’s better to leave the kitty alone and to provide it with a clear escape route. Allow it to calm down and make sure it feels safe and relaxed in its surroundings before approaching it again.

Puffed up and bristled

When the cat’s tail is puffed up and bristled like a brush, just leave the room. Even young children are aware of the fact that they should stay away from cats with bristled tails.

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The puffed up tail means your cat is scared and it’s acting out aggressively. By bristling up its tail and the fur on its back the feline is trying to appear larger and to ward off the potential threat. Your cat may see you, another animal or even an unfamiliar inanimate object as the threat.

If you try to calm your cat or to approach it in any way, it will most definitely attack you. By bristling their tails cats from all breeds and ages are attempting to make themselves appear bigger, stronger and more menacing in order to make the potential predator go away.

Whipping back and forth

The whipping tail is a telltale sign of unpleasant, negative and stressful emotions for the cat. When your feline furball is whipping its tail back and forth or up and down the uneasy movements indicate that there’s something, which is bothering your pet.

Overly territorial cats, which spend a great deal of time on the window perch, are constantly whipping their tails. They are feeling uncomfortable when they spot something unfamiliar in the yard and are ready to protect their territory. Such tail movements should give you a clear warning – stay away from the cat until it feels safe and relaxed.

Wagging or swishing sideways

Unlike dogs, cats don’t really wag their tails, but rather swish them from side to side. When the cat is slowly swishing its tail sideways it’s usually focused on an object or another animal. It’s common for cats to do this right before they jump towards their toys or to run off towards the food bowls. The swishing equals strong concentration and simply shows that your kitty is expressing a particular interest in something.

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This type of swishing also occurs when your kitty is stalking a prey. Moreover, it could also indicate excitement or an invitation for another furball to join a play session.

Twitching tip

The twitching tip can indicate a variety of things. The most common reason for the twitching movement of your cat’s tail’s tip is concentration. Whether it’s on a prey or on another animal, which is invading the territory, the cat’s tail will twitch when the kitty focuses its attention onto something.

It means your pet is highly alerted. Depending on the situation, the cat may be feeling playful, willing to hunt or even slightly aggressive. Either way, your feline pal is not relaxed.

Wrapped around something

This is the cutest tail position of all times. When your fluffy pal has wrapped its tail around something – a human being, another pet or even an inanimate object – it may seem as though the cat is hugging it. And that’s exactly what it’s doing!

When a kitty entwines its tail around something it’s expressing its affection towards something or somebody. Some cats will even do this as a way to plead for food, attention or play sessions.

Health-related reasons

Sometimes your cat may twitch, swish or whip its tail not because of the way it perceives its surroundings, but due to health reasons. If your kitty is suffering from an undiagnosed health issue it may try to signal the disorder through the movement of its tail or the position in which it’s being held up, down or sideways.

Make sure your pet’s health comes as your priority. Feed it only with high quality cat food items and if needed, get vitamin supplements, but don’t ever use them as substitutes to actual food.

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Don’t ever neglect your kitty’s needs and don’t skip any vet appointments. If you suspect that something’s wrong with your pet, schedule a new check-up with the vet as soon as possible. Devote your time, care and affection to your fluffy pal and you won’t regret it. Your cat will cherish you for all of your hard efforts for the rest of its lifetime.

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