Welcome to the second post in the Cattitude Diaries series. If you haven’t already, you should read the post from last week all about fussy eaters, where I wrote some helpful pointers on how to get your cat to eat.
This week is all about tails.
As with most animals, the tail is used to convey a whole range of emotions and feelings to other animals. As humans, we often don’t notice or we simply overlook these little signals from our furry friends. How many times has someone been bitten by a dog because they weren’t aware of the warning signs? Lip-licking, tail between the legs, whites of the eyes showing and salivating are all signs of a stressed dog but we tend to be ignorant to it.
So I’m going to go through five different cat tail positions or movements and tell you exactly what they mean. Or at least, what us humans have guessed they might mean based on context and what happened next!
1. Wagging tail
If you’re a dog-lover and you’re trying to stroke a cat when their tail is wagging then you might be in for a nasty surprise. Tail-wagging can mean many things for a cat and it depends a lot on the situation. If you’re unsure, then look at what your cat is doing or what other animals in the area are up to. Here are the two main ones:
– Annoyance. A cat will flick their tail from side to side if they’re unhappy. This is a sign for you to leave them alone until they’ve calmed down. It could be the whole tail moving dramatically or just the tip flicking from side to side. The latter shows mild annoyance, but the message is still clear: keep away!
– Interest. When you play with your cat using a teaser wand, you might notice that when they’re lying flat on the floor waiting to pounce, their tail starts thrashing from side to side. This is showing that they’re really interested! Cat tip: Remember to always give your cat something to play with after a teaser-wand session. Otherwise they’ve done all that hunting without catching any prey, and they won’t feel pleased about that!
2. Tail straight up and shaking slightly
This little signal is very overlooked, even by people who have had cats for years. When you come home after a long day at work, does your cat come trotting towards you with their tail up and slightly shaking? Have a look next time you walk in!
This is a charming little welcome that shows that your cat is happy to see you. It’s affectionate and content, the cat is happy and you should be too!
3. Bushy tail
This is a very angry cat. The chances are that they’ve stumbled across another cat in their territory and there’s a bit of a stand off occurring. A fluffed up tail makes the cat appear larger and more threatening to the other cat and is often accompanied by yowling and hissing noises.
It’s quite rare to see a cat with a bushy tail, and I’ve only seen it once or twice with my three. If they’re doing it towards you then something is clearly wrong, as they feel threatened by you and are preparing to fight!
Needless to say, they won’t appreciate cuddles in this moment so it’s best to leave them alone until they come to you.
4. Tail low between the back legs
This cat is scared, and lowering their tail not only makes them appear smaller to enemies but it also shows that they’re submissive. By doing this, they’re hoping to avoid a confrontation and for the other cat to move on without incident. This is usually accompanied by a lowered head, slightly lowered ears and a tucked-in body.
Again, I haven’t seen my cats do this very often, but when I have, I try to reassure them afterwards.
5. Tail Trail
All cat owners will have experienced this, when a cat trails their tail around your legs and rubs their body on you. It’s a nice thing to experience because you feel quite loved by your cat, and I love it when Lily does this to me.
This is a cat that’s trying to get your attention. More often than not it’s because their bowl is empty and it’s feeding time. They could be asking for a stroke, and when they are it’s adorable, but more often than not it’s a hungry cat telling you you’re late for feeding! If I ignore Lily when she does this, she will start knocking ornaments off of the shelves to get my attention, and that definitely works!
There are many more tail signs, this is really just the beginning! This doesn’t even take into account the overall body language, eyes, ears and head. There are so many little ways that cats have of telling us and other animals what they’re feeling.
I hope you’ve learned something new from this post, and if you have a cat then see how many of these signs you can spot and let me know in the comments!
Next week we’ll be looking at how to keep your cat cool in hot weather. If you’re in the UK at the moment then you’ll know we’re in the middle of a heatwave, and keeping pets cool should be a priority!