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What does it mean when my Kitty Cat Swishes her Tail?
The 12 Tail Signals a Cat Makes
By: Ming Toi & Mai Tai
The tail wagging of a cat in conflict is the most familiar, but there are
other tail signals that indicate mood changes. Each movement tells us (and
other cats) about the animal's emotional condition. Some of what follows may
be of help:
- Tail curves gently down & then up again at the
tip: This is a relaxed cat at peace with the world.
- Tail raised slightly & softly curved: Cat
is getting interested in something.
- Tail held erect but with the tip tilted over:
Cat is very interested & is in a friendly, greeting mood, with slight
- Tail fully erect with the tip stiffly vertical:
Intense greeting with no reservations. For adult cats this is borrowed
from the action of a kitten greeting its mother. The kitten's signal is an
invitation to the mother cat to inspect its rear end.
- Tail lowered fully & possibly tucked between hind
legs: Signal of defeat to totally submissive cat showing its
lowly social status.
- Tail lowered & fluffed out: Cat is
indicating active fear.
- Tail swished violently from side to side:
This conflict signal of tail wagging is its most angry version. If the
tail is swinging vigorously from side to side, it usually means that the
cat is about to attack.
- Tail held still, but with tip twitching: This
version of tail wagging shows only mild irritation. If the tip twitches
become more powerful, then it is a clue that a swipe from a bad tempered
paw is imminent.
- Tail held erect with its whole length quivered:
Gentle quivering action often seen after a cat has been greeted by its
owner. The same action is observed when urine spraying is taking place
outdoors, but in this case no urine is produced. The gesture appears to
have meaning of a "personal identification" as if saying
"Yes, this is me!"
- Tail held to one side: Mating invitation of
a female cat in heat. When she is ready to be mounted by the male, she
conspicuously moves her tail to one side. When the tomcat sees this he
knows he can mount without being attacked.
- Tail held straight & fully bristled:
Signal of an aggressive cat.
- Tail arched & bristled: Signal of a
defensive cat and one that may attack if provoked further. Bristling fur
makes the cat look bigger and may deter the enemy if the defensive cat is
The above info was purr-fectly provided us by two of Alfred's good buddies,
.....Ming Toi & Mai Tai.
Ming Toi & Mai Tai
They are owned by a most gracious pet lady, Faith O'Heron. Faith is one of
Dave's good friends and she & Dave are both very successful Field
Representative for HealthyPetNet.
Here's Faith's web site
For more info on Cat Communications see:
What does it mean when my Cat Purrs?