Why Do Cats Wag their Tail

A cat tail reveals a lot about its moods. Communication is key to create a good relationship. Importantly, cats use a range of communication modalities including vocal, visual, tactile, and olfactory.

To start with, a cat that curls its tail around your legs is a sign of friendship and affection.

What Does it Mean When a Cat Wag its Tail?

Wagging of the tail is not only common to cats but also dogs to show their emotions.

Particularly, a cat can communicate its emotion with its posture. For instance aggression, friendliness, calm, and welcoming can be depicted by how they position their ears, eyes, and tail.

In Regards, with our cats, it might be difficult to read different body languages. Even so, the cat tail will help you immensely to read its moods and emotions. The cat may be portraying different strong messages with different tail positions.

Clearly, the cat tail position will tell you when your cat is happy, angry, friendly, or agitated.

Understanding Your Cat Tail Position

Cats have different tail positions or languages that communicate different emotions. The most common cat tail positions are the hooked tail, straight tail (friendly and contented), scared or very angry, aggressive, fearful, in love, etc.

Let us place meaning on different tail positions in relation to their emotions.

Hooked Tip Tail

We can have two scenarios for this:

Friendly Cat Tail Position

If the cat is calm and the tail is straight and flat it means it is happy to see you that is a friendly greeting.

Following this, if the cat is excited to see you it might come near and curl the tail around you showing you friendliness and willingness to interact.

Sometimes a cat may be spraying or urine marking.

For example, when the tail is straight up and the cat is backing up against a vertical wall or surface.

An aggressive cat with a straight tail that is fat could be angry and ready to respond to any aggression.

Scared or Startled Tail

Cats’ emotions are pent up in their tails.  Clearly when a cat is scared or startled her tail will puff up to twice its size and become very fat. Notably, it will be arched back as it tries to make herself look bigger as possible. This commonly happens when the cat detects a threat in her nearby environment. This is clearly a defense mechanism body language of the cat even when the threat can only be a furry pet or human being.

The cats want to feel macho in front of the enemy and this posture simply says “I am big and I am not scared of you, don’t mess with me”. Subsequently, you will notice the cat’s back hair will also puff up along with the tail.

Also when your cat is feeling scared or frightened he might tuck the tail close to her body.

Allow your cat to calm down and don’t make noises near her when you notice that position especially when standing. Otherwise, if they are too scared they will end up running off and you don’t have a cat tracking collar you might not be able to track her wereabouts for a while, maybe a couple of anxious days for you.

Angry Tail

When a cat is threatened despite his size will respond to defend itself. Some cats are not scared and once angry will attack as their predatory instinct turn dangerous. You will notice their claws, teeth, and tail starting to react readily for defense. Not only, will the cats’ ears be held high up against the head, but he will produce a hissing sound, and the tail and back hair will be puffed up and straight. This can mean the cat is angry, annoyed, or irritated by something.

As a cat owner also looked at your cat’s other body position and language as a puffed tail doesn’t necessarily mean he is angry. Also, a happy and playful cat can have a puffed tail and can be laying down.

If they’re not playing or stalking something, then the twitching tail movement probably means that they are annoyed.

Straight Tail

Unquestionably, when a cat tail and straight and looks relaxed, the cat may be friendly. Indeed also, confident, contented, feeling social and ready play and mingle.

Different Meaning of Cat Straight up Tail

It is common among cats while greeting and for a cat owner it would be a good time to cuddle and pet your cat.

These tail positions can be confused with the hooked tip tail position. Hence, it is good to read your cat’s other body languages as both tail positions can depict that your cat is friendly and ready to interact.

The only difference is the hooked tip cat tail position can also be due to anger and ready to attack when the tail is puffed up and the cat is aggressive.

When you try to interact with your cat when the back hair and tail are puffed he might see you as a threat. Clearly, the cat doesn’t want to be disturbed and wants to be left alone as this is a defense mechanism.

Tail Laying Down

The cat tail can lay down to just relax or due to stressors in the environment or various reasons, namely:

  • Feeling unwell
  • In pain
  • Frightened
  • Defensive

The cat can be unwell or feeling pain in her body. If you noticed the tail is wrapped around the body and shows signs of crouching he might need a vet evaluation and checkup. This will rule out any pain or discomfort.

When the tail is laying down but tucked under the anus, this could likely be the cat is in a defensive position and is getting ready to attack if need be.

Same position but different meaning. Regardless, one needs to know the different emotions portrayed as the same cat position with the tail under the belly will mean feeling submissive.

During hunting you will also your cat will lay low on the ground and her tail is left stretched out behind. Due to excitement while hunting for rodents the tail will twitch a bit or when playing with their favourite toy.

Tail Tucked Between the Back Legs

This posture could mean the cat is submissive. It might also mean the cat is frightened by an object, another animal or person and becomes submissive to avoid the threatening situation. When you notice the submissive position be sensitive to her/him.

This would make the cat stress out, when you notice this posture allow your cat to calm down or allow for an escape route.

Nevertheless, when the cat has realized they will lose out in a threatening situation, he becomes obedient. You will see him putting the tail between the legs to show he has accepted defeat.

Tail Quivers

Cat can have the tail quiver if he is excited to see another cat or you. It could also happen when it is feeding time as seeing you excite him as he will get fed.


When the cat is communicating it can use its ears, eyes, body language, and tail movement. One needs to understand her cat tail positions to understands her emotions and know her well.

These knowledge will help you identify which environment makes your cat happy, angry, relaxed, and or when in pain and need a vet checkup.

In addition, different tail positions will give you tips on how your cat’s emotions are based on the tail position and empower you to create a loving and trusting relationship.

We want the best for our feline friends by providing a comfy home with enclosures, cat flaps, high-quality food, and a condusive environment.

Lastly, the tail positions open up a lot of insight to you on how your cat is feeling emotionally and will make you understand your cat better.