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4 Reasons Why Your Cat Is Shaking Tail But Not Spraying

4 Reasons Why Your Cat Is Shaking Tail But Not Spraying

You see your cat shaking its tail and you assume what’s going to happen next – she will spray around your house.

However, it seems you have been wrong. Your cat’s tail is shaking, but she doesn’t spray. You’re probably relieved at this point that you don’t have to clean up your kitty’s urine in the middle of the house.

However, if this has happened again, you may already be a little worried.

What’s happening? Why is my cat shaking tail but not spraying?

This is also known as phantom spraying, meaning that it looks like a cat will urine mark, but no urine actually comes out. 

Let’s look at the 4 most common reasons for this behavior in cats.

1. Your Cat Doesn’t Know How To Spray

British blue-eyed cat walks through the summer grass

Spraying is one of the most common ways felines mark their territory. PetMD explains how cats also spray to attract mates, and this behavior is more common with intact male cats, but it can also be seen in neutered males, and females.

Knowing how to spray isn’t something natural to all cats. They usually learn this behavior from their mothers, or other cats in their surroundings. 

So, there is a chance that your cat’s parents were also shaking their tail but not spraying, and this is why she is behaving in the same way.

Another possibility is that your cat hasn’t learned this behavior from her mother, but rather from a cat she saw from a distance, and only caught the shaking tail part – but not the actual spraying.

2. She Doesn’t Actually Need To Spray

Your cat is a strictly indoor cat, and there aren’t any other pets around her? Then she is probably used to living alone and being the one and only master of your home.

If she never sees any other animals, and you have your full attention on her, maybe she doesn’t actually feel the need to spray at all.

In most cases, cats spray for territorial reasons, or as a call for potential mates. If your cat is sterilized, then she really doesn’t have to use the spraying method at all!

Interesting Read: Can A Neutered Cat Still Mate And Impregnate A Female?

3. For Excitement

The cat rubs against the man's legs

Have you ever wondered whether cats can control their tails, or are they just another amazing accessory on their bodies?

Well, cats do have control over their tail’s movement, and they use it consciously for balance. 

But, they can also use it to let us know how they feel. If your cat’s shaking tail, but she doesn’t spray afterward, this could show you that your cat feels excited.

This can happen, for example, when you get home from work, and your kitten is pretty happy to see you!

Another potential situation to display his kind of behavior is seeing a bird or any other prey outside that kicks off your cat’s natural hunting instinct. 

Some cats might show this behavior in the most common, everyday situations, such as before getting a delicious meal. 

4. Anxiety And Stress

All of you were probably relieved to read that your cat shaking tail but not spraying is simply excited over something.

Unfortunately, this behavior can also be an indicator of negative emotions in cats, such as stress and anxiety.

According to Marta Amat and her associates [1], there are many triggers for stress and anxiety in felines.

For example, even the slightest lack of control and a sense of unpredictability can make your cat feel super stressed. This can include any change in their surroundings, such as a new person coming over, or you spending some more time away from home.

Some owners might use punishment for their cats’ unwanted behaviors, causing their pets to feel insecure and afraid.

If you’ve welcomed a new pet into your home recently, this can also make your cat feel threatened and in fear for their own territory.


maine coon cat with large fluffy tail walking on grass

So, what’s the final verdict on the issue of cat shaking tail but not spraying?

In most cases, you shouldn’t be worried about this behavior. Maybe your kitten hasn’t learned how to spray in the right way, or she simply doesn’t have the need to show it.

The best possible scenario is that your cat is simply excited, and that’s why she’s showing phantom spaying!

But, it’s still a good idea to monitor your cat. Another potential explanation for this behavior is stress and anxiety. You should try to figure out what your kitten might be stressed about.

You might be able to help her on your own, but, if you feel like she’s getting even more stressed, the best would be to consult a veterinarian. There are even anxiety medications that can help your cat relax, if the vet finds it necessary.

Do you find a cat’s tail one of her most fascinating features? If you do, you might like our article on some interesting questions on the cat’s tail answered. See you there!


[1] Amat M, Camps T, Manteca X. Stress in owned cats: behavioural changes and welfare implications. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. 2016;18(8):577-586. DOI, Retrieved June 22, 2023.

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