Alright, cat lovers. Who has ever wished they were like Eliza Thornberry so they could actually speak to animals? (Me! Oh, pick me!) That’s what I thought. Unfortunately, the magical Shaman Mynambo isn’t around to grant us the gift of communicating with animals. But no worries, there are ways to translating what your cat is trying to tell you. Just follow T.A.I.L!
T – Track
- Take time to observe your cat’s behavior
A – Analyze
- Decode how your cat reacts to different situations
I – Interpret
- Translate what your cat’s behavior means
L – Learn
- Pick up a few tricks to make your cat’s life more happy and purrfect
Here are some brief descriptions of the 9 different positions of cat tail language. Try and identify which one your kitty is doing!
High like a flagpole. A tail that sticks straight up signals happiness and a willingness to be friendly; your cat is alert and confident! Sometimes the tip of an erect tail will make a quick, little twitch which can mean a particularly happy moment.
Curved like a question mark or hooked. This tail position often signals a loving, playful mood and a cat that’s ready to share some fun with you, so get out the toys and string!
The dog wag. When dogs wag their tails fast from side-to-side, you know they’re happy to see you. It’s quite the opposite for cats. If ever you’ve held on to your kitty for a loving hug, then you know what I’m talking about! Their tail will swish very fast, but it means they are annoyed with you, so it’s best to let them go and give it a few minutes. *tear* “kitty, come back!”
Slow swoosh. Sometimes your cat will see a bird outside the window, in addition to making funny noises, usually s/he will be slowly swishing their tail. This means they are most likely focused on an object and are very interested or curious.
Vibrating or quivering. This one tail position means you are doing something right for your kitty. A quivering or vibrating-looking tail means your cat is excited and very happy! Often when we are playing with Yoda (he loves to be chased and play hide and seek), his tail will be pointing high in the air like flagpole position, but will jolt, flicker, or quiver slightly. It took me a while to notice it, but when I did I was thrilled myself!
Neutral. A cat that is relaxed or feeling good will have their tail in a natural position. A slow swish shows they’re comfy and interested.
Low. Uh oh! Watch out for your feet when you walk! A tail positioned straight down can signal aggression. A lower tail indicates your cat is in a very serious mood.
Tucked away or between legs. A tail curved beneath the body signals fear or submission. Something is making your cat nervous and you should try to soothe him by sniffing out the scary source.
Puffed up and spiky looking. A tail resembling a pipe cleaner reflects a severely agitated and frightened cat trying to look bigger to ward off danger. One time, Yoda was chasing my sister’s little dog when he barked at Yoda and all of a sudden Yoda’s tail became three times the size of its normal fluffiness. His tail was all spiked out and frizzy looking!
Want more? Check out this cool video from the cat daddy himself, Jackson Galaxy!
Cat tail language can be tricky to understand but we hope now it will be easier for you to get a sense of what your cat is trying to tell you, or at least what kind of emotion or mood s/he is in!