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Cat Communication Through Tail Movement

(Last Updated On: 26/03/2017)

How to communicate with your cat in the proper way? What is cat language? Cat purring, cat hissing, cat kneading and cat growling are all important mood indicators. But cats communication goes further away in the form of cat body language.

Cat communication is basically the physical expression of several emotions. Whereas, humans primarily rely on vocal communication to express how they feel, cats primarily rely on body language. A cat’s tail, together with providing balance to the cat’s body, is an extension of its mood and a mirror to its thoughts. Understanding different tail positions can help the owner to know how the cat feels and how it wants to be treated.

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Tail Carried High and Straight Up

This tail position might be at times misinterpreted as a sign of anger, but the trick here is to check if the tail is dainty. If the tail is held high up but with delicacy then it is a sign of happiness and pride. This position is usually seen just before the cat is going to be treated. Mother cat uses this tail position as a signal for the kittens to follow her.

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Tail Carried Horizontally Behind

This is a sign of being content and confident. Cats usually use this tail position to indicate that they are open for some pampering from their owners or when they are stalking other cats.

Standing or Quivering Tail

Tail held straight up with a slight quiver is probably the best compliment that a cat can give to its owner. This indicates that the cat is extremely pleased to see its owner and is in a perfect mood to play around.

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Hooked Tail

Tail carried upright with a curve is indicative that the cat is still deciding whether it likes the other person/cat enough to fully straighten its tail or not. It shows friendliness but with caution. The more the tail is hooked, the more the degree of hesitation in being openly friendly.

Puffed Tail

This sign of cat communication shows fear and agitation among cats which means it is in a defensive aggressive state. A cat puffs up its tail so as to appear bigger to its opponent. In such a state, the owner should proceed with caution and leave the cat alone for some time so that it regains its composure, otherwise it might attack the owner.

Tucked Tail

If the cat tucks its tail between the legs it indicates that the cat is frightened and is ready to submit to its opponent. When in such a state the cat is extremely nervous and the owner should be cautious. Reassuring words help the cat to relax and regain confidence.

Swishing Tail

Cats usually swish/flick their tails so as to express annoyance or irritation. This action is usually carried out when the cat is focusing on its prey or when the prey is out of bounds for the cat. The more annoyed the cat, the faster the swishing. So if the cat starts to swish its tail when being petted, then the owner should stop petting it.

Thrashing Tail

If the cat starts to lash and thump its tail it means that it is very aggressive. This action is usually followed after tail swishing- which means that the object that was annoying the cat is soon going to be pounded upon. Thus if this stage is reached, the owner should make sure that the object of irritation is removed and the cat is left alone to calm down.

Interpreting cat’s tail positions is a fairly easy task, especially because it is accompanied with other body movements as well. An arched back, a hissing sound, dilated pupils, ears turned back are all usually accompanied with a thrashing tail- thus telling owner that the cat is very aggressive.

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