Unlike Garfield, our cats can’t talk, making it difficult to know exactly what’s going on inside their kitty-cat brains. In the wild cats were solitary animals and used scent to communicate. However, as they became domesticated and lived in closer proximity to other kitties as well as humans, they developed an intricate way of expression through body language. One such type of body language is cat tail language and that’s exactly what we’ll be discussing today. So, move over Duo Lingo! After reading today’s blog you’re going to be a master in cat tail language!
The Basics of Cat Tail Language
A cat's tail is a vital tool used in its intricate communication style. They’re highly mobile and expressive, and can convey a wide range of emotions depending on what position they put them in, from happiness to fear and aggression. It can also be used to signal to others that they’re not to be messed with! Reading your cat’s tail language is an impawtent skill to develop to help you understand how they’re feeling and what they want.
Here are some of the main cat tail positions that you’ll come across:
1. Tail Straight Up or a Question Mark Shape
When your kitty’s tail is straight up in the air or slightly curved like a question mark, it signals that they’re feeling confident and happy. You might notice their tail looking like this as your kitty-cat confidently struts around home, exploring their territory in all its glory. This is a good sign that they’re content with their surroundings and don’t feel threatened.
2. Tail Puffed Up
If your cat is looking like Basil Brush, it’s a way that they’re communicating through their cat tail language that they’re scared or feeling threatened. Cats puff out their tails to bulk them up and make them look bigger. This is essentially their defensive position and aimed to intimidate potential predators or foes.
3. Tail Curled Around You
If your cat curls their tail around your leg or arm, they are expressing affection and love. This is a sign that they feel comfortable and safe with you, so praise them with lots of love and cuddles to reinforce this positive cat tail language.
4. Tail Tucked Between Their Legs
Another cat tail language to watch out for is if they tuck their tail between their legs. If your kitty-cat does this, it means that they are feeling scared, anxious, stressed, or submissive. Often cats will adopt this position if they are in a new or unfamiliar environment.
The Role of Tail Movement
In addition to tail position, the movement of your floof’s tail is another aspect of their cat tail language which they use to convey impawtent information.
Here are some of the most common tail movements and what they mean:
1. Slow Swishing
If you’ve ever had the pleasure (or displeasure) of watching your cat seek out a mouse that’s scurried under your kitchen cupboard or fridge, you may have noticed their tail slowly swishing forward and back or side to side. When your cat's tail is swishing like this, it means they’re focused or feeling playful. You’ll see them do this as they’re investigating or just before they pounce on their prey or favourite toy.
2. Rapid Swishing
Unlike slow swishing, rapid swishing conveys an entirely different emotion. If your cat's tail is swishing rapidly back and forth, it means they are feeling angry, agitated or annoyed. This is a sign that they want to be left alone and may become aggressive if their space is invaded. If there’s something in their vicinity that is agitating them, remove it, otherwise give them some space to cool off.
3. Tail Twitching
This one is a bit more complex and requires context to decipher how your cat is really feeling. If the top of their tail is twitching, they look relaxed and otherwise happy, this can mean they’re content or feeling playful so use this time to enrich their lives through cat playtime. If they’re twitching their tail in your face, or rubbing up against your leg they may be hinting that they want something like their favourite all-natural delicious cat food.
However, if the twitching is accompanied by an arched back, fur standing on end, dilated pupils and angry or focused-looking whiskers, this could mean they’re upset or angry.
4. Tail Wrapping
If you have two kitty-cats (lucky you!) and they wrap their tails around one another, you can be sure that they’re besties. This is a show of affection or a cat’s version of a hug.
The Impawtence of Context
Whilst being able to recognise and decipher these tail positions is useful, it's impawtent to remember that context matters. We can all fake a smile when we want to, but sometimes when we do, this expression is vastly different to how we feel inside. This is similar to deciphering cat body language, as cat tail language is only one piece of the puzzle.
For example, a cat may have their tail straight up when they’re feeling happy and confident, but they might also have their tail straight up when they’re feeling threatened or in a defensive position and trying to appear larger.
This is why it's essential to pay attention to your cat's overall body language, taking into account what their eyes, ears, whiskers and body postures are doing as well as the context so you can get a better overall picture of what they’re trying to communicate.
4 Pawesome Tips for Communicating with Your Cat
Now that you’re bilingual in English and Cat Tail Language, here are some helpful tips for communicating with your old tom.
1. Pay attention to your cat's overall body language and behaviour. Cat tail language is just one aspect of how your kitty-cat communicates. By looking at the big picture, you can better understand what your cat is trying to tell you.
2. Respect your cat's boundaries. If your floof is displaying defensive or aggressive cat tail language, such as a puffed-up tail or rapid swishing and twitching, give them the space they need to cool off and avoid approaching them until they’re feeling comfortable and at ease.
3. When your cat displays affectionate tail language, such as curling their tail around your leg or arm, use positive reinforcement such as rewarding them with their favourite delicious cat treats or cat cuddles to strengthen your bond with them.
4. Be patient and consistent. Like any form of communication, understanding your cat's tail and body language takes practice. Be patient and consistent with your interactions with your kitty-cat, to make your bond even more unbreakable.
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