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A Guide To The Cat Tail Position Meaning Chart

A Guide To The Cat Tail Position Meaning Chart

We can learn a lot about our feline friends from observing their behaviors.

For instance, certain triggers will make them seek for some time alone. When they’re perfectly at peace they will usually come to us and seek attention.

Together with their behavior, their body language can also help us in recognizing their emotions.

A body posture and a cat’s ear position can help you tell whether a cat is relaxed, stressed, or, perhaps, about to show aggression.

Furthermore, a cat’s tail is also a useful way to recognize your pet’s mood. Let’s take a look at this cat tail meaning chart and see what your cat’s tail might be telling you.

Cat Tail Position Meaning Chart Overview

cat tail position meaning chart

Tail Straight Up

The first position is the one that, I hope, you most often see in your furry companion.

When a cat stands with its tail straight up, it signifies that it’s happy and relaxed. Most usually, cats show this tail position when they’re around their human family members.

This also means that a cat feels perfectly content and confident in its own territory. There aren’t any threats around it, and nothing is bothering it.

So, if you have ever been asking do cats control their tails, the answer is: Yes, they do! And they can use it as a signal that everything’s just right in their surroundings.

Tail Curved At The Top

On occasions, cats can curve their tails so that they look like a question mark.

This position indicates that your cat is in a friendly mood and is looking for a play session. Playing is very useful and important for a cat’s health.

It simulates it both physically and mentally, and is also an excellent way for you and your pet to spend some quality time together. 

So, as soon as you notice your cat’s tail curved at the top, seize the opportunity to brighten its day with a fun play break!

Quivering Tail

cat walking with quivering tail

This position implies that a cat is holding its tail erected, while it seems to be vibrating a bit.

Most often, cats quiver their tails when they’re very excited. For instance, you could notice this upon coming home after a long day of being out.

Or, your cat could move its tail like this when you’re about to give it its favorite cat food or some tasty treats!

This tail position can be understood as a friendly greeting or a sign that your cat is absolutely thrilled about something. Tail quivering can be accompanied by other signs of excitement, such as continuous purring.

Slowly Swishing Tail

A cat slowly swishing its tail from side to side is alert and deeply focused on something.

PetMD explains how this can be anything from a cat’s surroundings, such as another animal in the house, a toy, or something outside.

Since cats are exceptional hunters, they are likely to engage in predatory behavior. This means you’ll probably observe your cat stalking and pouncing on something it marked as its prey.

This is a healthy and normal feline behavior. However, it’s important to ensure that your cat’s predatory instincts don’t pose a danger to your surroundings!

In total, hunting is a good enrichment and stimulation for your cat. Without having the opportunity to hunt, cats could become bored and display destructive behaviors.

Tail Tucked Between The Legs  

scared cat with tail tucked between legs

When a cat tucks its tail between its legs, this indicates that it feels submissive, scared, or stressed.

Cats can be afraid of veterinary visits, loud sounds like thunderstorms, or unknown people in their surroundings.

However, they could also get startled by some things we don’t even pay attention to, such as balloons!

Fear often goes hand in hand with stress in felines. Any alterations in their living environment can trigger anxiety and stress.

This can be the arrival of a new family member or animal, or a simple thing such as relocating some of its items.

Upon noticing this tail position in your cat, you should try to figure out what is scaring it or making it feel stressed.

Make sure your cat feels safe and comfortable in your home and that nothing is jeopardizing its well-being.

The Humane Society of the United States suggests contacting a veterinarian if a cat seems to be constantly stressed. A veterinarian could direct you to a veterinary behaviorist, who is an expert in cat behavior.

Puffy Tail

When you see your cat’s tail looking like this, it’s a sign it could show aggressive behavior.

A puffy tail makes it look more prominent and intimidating to potential threats around it. Some other common signs of aggression in cats are an arched back, dilated pupils, and ears flattened backward on the head.

Of course, you should take preventative measures to stop your cat from showing aggressive behavior. Keep it indoors to discourage it from attacking cats that it may encounter outdoors.

If you have multiple cats in your household, make sure there are enough items such as water and food bowls, and toys for both of them. 

One thing to do to avoid aggressive behavior between your cats is not to make them share their territory and belongings.

Thumping Tail

gray cat sitting with thumping tail

This position shows that your cat is annoyed or bothered by something. It’s possible that this is about something you have done.

Most likely, your cat is simply overstimulated. Maybe you’ve been petting it for too long, and it wants a break.

You shouldn’t worry about this behavior. Cats can enjoy a petting session, but in the way that they find acceptable.

So, when a cat feels like it has been enough cuddling for it, it will make it clear to its owner. Some cats might take it a step further and even bite you gently out of nowhere as a warning.


A cat’s tail is a very interesting feature of its body.

It’s helpful for balance, but can also be a way for your cat to communicate its mood. This can assist you in choosing the right way to approach your cat, depending on the state it’s in at the given moment.

Hopefully, this cat tail meaning chart has offered you a fair insight into feline body language.

Now, what’s the tail position you most often see in your pet? Feel free to share your answers with us!

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