If you have a pet cat, you must have noticed that it wags its tail often and in different ways. But, what you might not know is that, unlike the dog, the cat that wags its tail is not necessarily happy. Besides being a fundamental element in their balance, cats use their tail to communicate with fellow beings and with us! Every movement of the tail means something. Do you want to know the answer to why do cats wag their tails? Read on!
Why Do Cats Wag their Tails?
Let’s start the discussion with what does different movements of your cat’s tail mean. Or do these movements mean anything? Or is it just a distraction?
The Different Movements of the Cat’s Tail
As cat owners, specific movements of your cat’s tail, or certain behaviors, hold no secrets for you. The direction and speed with which cats move and swing their tails convey what they’re feeling—their tails would act as emotional barometers.
In general, the higher a cat’s tail, the more confident and outgoing it is. When a cat’s tail drops lower to the ground, it can mean your cat is less sure of its situation or even scared. But the context is important, and there may be exceptions to these general guidelines.
When cats wag their tails quickly, that means they’re feeling irritated, annoyed, upset, and you should leave them alone. It is better not to bother them. Be careful when your cat makes quick and forceful tail movements, rocking from side to side because it shows its anger that an attack can follow.
Slow Wagging from Side to Side
When your cat’s tail is wagging slowly from side to side, it may indicate that your cat is a little upset. But, it also happens when it is happy to see a friend – human or feline –and can also gently wag its tail from side to side or wrap it around your leg for a while. How would you know the difference? By the position of the tail, if it’s high, your cat is happy, and if it’s low, wagging side to side, then your cat is upset.
Other times, cats quiver and wag their tails as they prepare to stalk and pounce on their prey. There are a few theories about it: a flood of neurotransmitters and adrenaline in the cat’s system, which causes the tail to move.
Slow Movements While Sleeping
Sometimes the cat wiggles its tail while sleeping. If your cat’s tail is gently patting the ground while sleeping, it means that it is disturbed. Cats make a sign here that they can hear you and that they want to be left alone. Although it shows calm signs, it is not sleeping and is paying attention to what is happening around it. Ensure comfortable sleep for cats – perhaps invest in a cat bed (ASIN B07GL45JHQ).
While there could be many reasons why cats wag their tails, it should not be your only focus. You also need to be interested in the rest of the cat’s body language, including vocalizations, ear positions, whether the eyes are relaxed or dilated. Doing so will give you a better idea of your cat’s intentions.
As you can imagine, context is (still) very important. If a cat wags its tail, it’s not the same as when a dog wags its tail. It’s usually not a sign of unfailing excitement. Frequently, a cat wags its tail back and forth to indicate irritation or annoyance – slight twitching at the tip of the tail suggests slight annoyance and a widely wagging or brisk tail is a sure sign that the cat wants you to leave.
Slow Wagging While Lying Down
Experts suggest that cats that are sick or unwell can gently wag their tails when lying down. What the cat’s tail is doing should always be considered in the context of other body language indicators.
How to Welcome or Greet Your Cat?
If your cat has a raised, high tail that is vertical and slightly shaped like a question mark, this is a friendly sign. You must certainly see this when you come home. It means that your cat is greeting you and asking for a bit of caress or some treat.
When you stroke it, your cat may also lift its tail, slightly curving its back. Some say that raising the tail when petting is innate in cats, a behavior written in their genes that even bottle-bred kittens would later reproduce.
Finally, note that by lifting its tail, your cat communicates with you. Its anal glands then secrete pheromones that you cannot smell but which are as many signs of affection for you as a way of marking its territory when it diffuses them in the environment.
When the Cat Expresses Fear
As said above, if your cat’s tail is low, or even below the body between its paws, it is because it is frightened or in a very uncomfortable situation. In such a case, you can also observe its dilated pupils and ears behind.
The cat can also have a straight tail, but with the tip pointing downwards and very curved, you need to be careful because a scared cat can attack very quickly.
Expression of Aggression
If your cat feels threatened, it makes a big tail; that is, the hair on its tail stand and the tail seem to be swelled. It means that the cat is exposed to or in the face of a possible adversary.
Pain in Cats
It is easy to tell the difference because if the cat is in pain, the tail makes vigorous movements, swinging from right to left, exactly like the fear mentioned above. But, some other signs, such as patting the ground with the tail, even though you feel like it’s dozing off, show that your cat is in pain.
Indeed, this tail movement can also indicate that your cat is concerned due to physical discomfort or pain. Stay observant. You know your pet well and know how to make a difference. Do not hesitate to take it to the vet if there is any doubt.
Our Final Thoughts
We hope this article has answered the question, why do cats wag their tails? If you’re an animal lover, you must know that pets, particularly cats, manage very well to be understood by their attitudes, looks, and certain parts of the body, such as the tail, which expresses many emotions.
But rest assured, most of the time, your cat will come towards you with the tail in an upright position, slightly curved at the end, to tell you that you are the best friends in the world!