A cat smelling a bush and wagging their tail.

Health & Wellness

Six ways cats communicate with their tails

Talk to the tail

Cats are mysterious, so few people realize that they can actually communicate with their tails just like dogs. Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch’s on-staff vet, shares some wag behavior to watch out for so you can strengthen your bond with your best friend. 

01: To greet you

When cats say hello, their tail is often extended high into the air and sways back and forth. If they’re greeting another cat, sometimes it’s accompanied by mutual head rubbing. 

Tip: Offer up some pets to your friendly cat

02: Scaredy-cat

If the hairs along the tail are upright and their spine is arched, your cat is frightened. This shouldn’t be confused with aggression, they’re just a little spooked.

Tip: Move slowly to help your cat calm down

03: Your cat is agitated

You can spot aggression if the tail is arched upwards at the base, and then curls down towards the legs. 

Tip: Give your cat some space

04: They’re in pain

Cats are good at hiding pain, so it’s important to look out for changes in their tail behavior. If your cat is already not feeling well and waving their tail while laying down, it could be their way of signaling discomfort. 

Tip: Contact your vet

05: Your cat is focusing

When cats wag and twitch their tail, it is a sign that they’re concentrating. If they spot something outside that catches their attention, they’ll show this wag. 

Tip: Try not to be their prey 

06: An invitation to play

A slow, side-to-side swish means your cat is feeling playful.

Tip: Grab their favorite toy

Understanding what your cat is saying through their tail wags will ensure your cat gets care if they need it and also make your bond so much stronger. 

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Photo by Nattarin Kraiwachirasit on Unsplash

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