Language of the Cat's Tail

Jan 26, 2019

Cat on the hunt - and she's spotted something!
Credit Mindy Norton

Look at that tail - straight behind her - and her focused look.  This cat has found her prey.  It may be a chipmunk, or a leaf, or a toy, but she is all business.  Cats are hunters by nature, so even in play time their body language speaks volumes about their nature.


How many cat owners have wished their pets could talk? The truth is cats have a pretty extensive vocabulary of sounds. Our cat “talks” to us all the time, in little meows and purring. We used to have one that sounded as if he were carrying on a real conversation, with lots of inflection and a wide variety of cat sounds.

Cats have another language, as well, one that may be easier for us humans to interpret - the language of the cat’s tail. - and if you learn this language, you can (almost) read your pet’s mind - or at least, read its attitude.

When a cat holds its tail low as it moves about an area, as if trying to tuck it under its body, your furry friend is telling you it is unsure about its surroundings. Cats do this when they explore a place that is unfamiliar to them. As your pet becomes more comfortable and secure, you will see its tail gradually rise as the animal relaxes a bit.

A stalking cat holds its tail low and straight behind the body, except perhaps for some twitching right at the tip. You’ll also see this when a cat is playing hunting and stalking games.

If the tail is whipping or thrashing side to side, do not confuse this with the friendly wag of a dog’s tail. Quite the opposite - this is a sign of agitation or aggression. The cat is saying, “back off - leave me alone.”

But when the tail is help upright, especially with an “umbrella handle” hook at the top, your cat is feeling very friendly and secure - it’s a message of trust and affection.

If you will be in the Birmingham area this weekend, you can find some real cat conversation at the Birmingham Feline Fancier’s Annual Cat Show, taking place today and tomorrow at the Zamora Temple in Irondale.

Visit for more information, and to print a discount coupon for the entry fee. You’ll see hundreds of gorgeous cats and meet people who really know the language of cats, when you’re speaking of pets.