Don’t Guess Your Cat’s Mood: Watch Its Tail

Cat Tail

We love our cat and very often have asked ourselves what our cat is thinking or feeling and wish our furry friend could talk. But that’s not really necessary.

Cats communicate through vocalizing, purring, scents marks and also with body’s language, such as ears or whiskers. On this article, we will talk about the emotions and mood your pet express through its tail.

The cat’s tail is not only a balance tool for your cat’s body when walking in narrow areas or when turning fast while running. The cat’s tail is also a way cats communicate their emotions.

All you have to do is pay attention to your cat’s tail movements and you will have a pretty accurate idea of what your cat is feeling. Here I will explain what’s the meaning behind the different types of movements of your cat’s tail so you can understand your pet much better.

Why it’s important to understand your cat by observing its tail

Well, you can avoid some unpleasant circumstances such as scratches or bites at visitors, if you have a little children that play with your cat, you can avoid triggering stressors that may cause your cat to develop anxiety, such as excessive noise or simply you get to know your cat better and learn what are the things that make your cat happy. If you have a cat and a dog, understanding your cat’s body language towards the dog is really important as well.



In general terms, the tail in a high position regarding the cat’s body is usually associated with positive emotions, but depending on how the tail is, it could be a sign of aggression.

Calm High Tail: If the tip of the tail is like a hook, it means your cat wants to be friendly or it’s showing love. If the tail is in arched or curved like a question mark, it means your cat wants to play. If the tail is calm and straight-up it means the cat is happy and content, for example, when you get home and your cat shows its tail straight-up saying “I am so happy, I missed you”.

This cat is showing acceptance and friendship


A happy cat exploring

Straight-up Shaky and Fluffy. It’s a very exciting and happy moment for your cat. Sometimes cats show this tail right before receiving a treat.

Straight-Up Erect Tail. This could be your cat showing aggression.

Straight-up bristled Tail. Indicative of extreme fear and showing a warning for the other to back off. It’s also indicative of aggression.

High in Diagonal Waiving the Tail. Your cat may be angry and a warning to stay away.

High in Diagonal and Firm. Your cat is unsure, it is not relaxed but it is not fearful either.



Calm Tail. When the cat’s tail is aligning with its back and calm, generally means a neutral and relaxed mood. It shows that your cat is not fearful and is not extremely happy.

Calm Slow Wagging Tail. Your cat wants to be amorous.

Slightly Firm Tail. It could be a sign of curiosity and interest in something.

Bristled and Straight Behind the Cat. This is an indication of aggression.



When the cat’s tail is low, it could be a signal of your cat feeling threatened and in defensive mode. When the tail is low, your cat is not certainly in a good mood so you need to have caution when approaching it.

Tail Hanging Straight-Down. Sign of aggression. Stay away.

Tail Curved Down and Bristled. Your cat is in defensive mode and willing to attack. Remember that cats never submit before a good defense. If the tail has not bristled but curved down the cat is being cautious.

Tail Down Curled to One Side. Your cat is showing that is not trusting a situation so it’s in cautious mode.


Cat ready to attack

Cat in cautious mode


A tail beneath the body shows fear and complete lack of confidence in the cat’s territory. Remember that when it comes to felines, fear doesn’t mean lack of attack.


Whipping, Flicking Tail. When a cat whips the tail against something, it means a warning to stay away, he or she doesn’t want to be touched. By slapping its tail your cat is showing you he or she is not in a good mood and it’s irritated with you close to it.

Fast Wagging Tail. By this movement, your cat is showing it wants distance between him and you. Unlike dogs that show a wagging tail when they are happy, cats show fear and aggression.

Slowly Moving Back and Ford. Your cat is trying to decide how it feels about something. Also when the tail moves from side to side it means your cat is examining something or when your pet is ready to pounce a toy or an insect. If the tail is not too high or too low, it means your cat wants to be loving.


Although the tail is a good indicator of your cat’s mood, cat’s body language is pretty complex and you need to make sure to see other signs such as ears. When your cat’s ears are back, it means fear, when they twist back visible (like little horns) your cat is angry, when they are flattened your cat feels frightened, when they are forward your cat is content or playful.

By learning your cat’s body communication you can gain more trust from your feline friend which ultimately will make your pet happy.



Lorena Avila is a Marketing Engineer, Writer, cat figures collector, cat lover and cat owner as well but above all a very passionate investigator of felines. She started investigating cat products 5 years ago when she couldn’t find reliable reviews on the internet to buy an automatic feeder for her own cat and since then she has been helping others providing honest information online.