Why Do Cats Move Their Tail?

why do cats move their tail

Do you know why cats move their tail?  Is it because they are angry?  Do you think they are irritated?  There are actually many different reason for cats to wag their tails and some of the reasons may be a surprise to you.  Everybody knows what it means when a dog wags their tail.

When a dog wags their tail it usually means that they are excited or happy.  Cats are a little more complicated and wagging their tails can actually have a variety of different reasons.  Lets dive into what it means when your cat moves their tail.

Your Cat is Confident

Your cat is feeling brave and confident at what he is doing.  When you see your cat walking around the house with his head high and his tail straight up gently wagging at the tip, this is usually a sign that your cat is not afraid of his environment.  He is aware of all his surroundings and has no reason to be scared or frightened.

This is also a playful stance that lets other cats know that they are open for interaction.  Whenever you see your cat like this, go ahead and give him a pet on the back or feel free to play with him.  Your cat will most likely respond in a positive manner when he is is in this type of mood.

Your Cat May Feel Threatened

Another reason your cats is waging their tail is because they are scared or frightened.  When a cat is scared they may wag their tail low to the ground.  If they are extremely afraid they might even tuck their tail in between their legs, similar to that of a dog.  This is a sign of submission that tells you that your cat does not want to engage in conflict.

On the other hand, if your cat has an arched back, erect tail, and pushed back ears, he is showing that he is scared, but willing to fight.  If he’s going to go down, it wont be without a fight.  This can be towards another cat or even another human that they are unfamiliar with.  You can see this mostly when your cat is outside and he encounters a new cat for the first time.  They will both usually start out by growling and moving their tales in a threatened manner.

Your Cat is Excited

This can also mean that your cat is very excited.  A cats tail in the upright and shaking position will typically mean that they are aroused and excited for what’s to come.  A similar situation in which your cat will show this posture is when he is urinating or spraying his territory.  If your cat is doing one of those two, he will most likely be backed up against the edge of a couch or litter box.

You can see this type of cat behavior when it is time for a feeding or for a treat.  When you shake your cat’s treat box he will usually come running and meowing with his tail in the upright position.  Another time your cat might do this is after you come back home after an extended period of time.  Again this is similar to a dog, except cat’s will exhibit this behavior in a more conserved type of fashion.

Agitated or Annoyed

Another reason your cat will move his tail is because he is annoyed or agitated.  Usually your cat will wag his tail back and forth when he is feeling on edge.  This is the total opposite to what dogs do.  When dogs wag their tail’s, it usually means they are happy and excited to see you.  Cats will often exhibit this type of tail wagging when they are in a bad mood, at the vet, or is in pain.  Your cat will be easily agitated which can cause him to bite or scratch  It’s best to give your cat some space when he is exhibiting this type of behavior.

Have you ever tried play fighting with your cat?  Usually your cat will start by being playful back.  The harder you poke or be playful, the more your cat will start to become agitated.  Don’t believe me?  Go ahead and start messing with your cat in a playful way.  He will start out playful and out of nowhere he will bite or scratch.  Not all cats will exhibit this type of behavior, but I know every cat that I have had has shown this.  It’s your cats way of saying that he’s having fun, but your being a little too rough.

Hunter Mode

Your cat may be in the process of hunting prey.  If you have an indoor cat you can see them display this type of tail behavior.  They will often wag their tails back and forth as a way to try and mesmerize their pray.  Following this type of tail wagging, you cat will often leap or jump at its prey soon after.  If you have ever been the victim or rodents in your home, then you can see exactly what I mean when your cat runs into them.  A more common type of time you will see your cat exhibit this behavior is if you have flies around your sliding glass door, or windows.  Your cat will typically try to catch these small bugs which will also put them in that “hunter mode”.

Feels Safe and Secure

Even while your cat sleeps they will exhibit different ways that their tails move.  If you observe your cat while they sleep, you will notice that sometimes your sleeping cats tail will twitch slightly if you try and talk to him.  This means your cat feels secure.  Instead of totally waking up to see what’s going on, your cat will simply twitch his tail to acknowledge that you are there, but feels safe enough to continue sleeping without opening his eyes.

Knowing why your cat moves their tail the way they do can come in handy.  This will let you know the overall general mood of your cat.  It will let you know when it’s time to leave your cat alone, or to start playing with him.  Along with the different tail movements, your cat will also exhibit different behaviors based on their mood as well, but that’s a whole different story.

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