Sign Up for Cat Talk
Get the latest health and behavior news and
advice from the veterinarians at Tufts University.

News

(Why Don't Cats Go Bald #2) Can Cats "Speak" With Their Tails?

Excerpt from Why Don't Cats Go Bald by Dr. Skip Sullivan, DVM, and David Fisher

Tail expression is only a small part of a cat's vocabulary, but it is probably the easiest to comprehend for a new student of Felinese. A cat may signal a change in its attitude by flicking or just bending the tip of its tail. It's a great place to begin your mastery of catspeak.

Tell-Tail Signs On a Cat:

  • A tail held slightly straight up indicates energy and a lack of tension.
  • A tail raised straight up — completely vertical — and held very high is a greeting to a trusted human or a companion cat.
  • A tail raised straight up and held high with the lowering of the chest to the floor with the rear end elevated indicates that you can pet the cat (and not have to worry about getting swiped!). For an intact female in heat, when accompanied by incessant yowling, this could mean she wants some action. If you stroke her backside and the tail at the base cocks to one side to clear the vaginal area, it definitely means she's in heat.
  • A tail that's erect and quivers like a rattlesnake is a conversation stopper — it means the cat is about to mark its territory with urine. Cats spray a samll amount of urine, usually on vertical surfaces, to stake out a territory. This is more common in intact male cats.
  • Moving the tail sideways and ryhtymically — generally a slow movement — can connote mild to moderate agitation.
  • When this sideways movement is slow and steady, it generally means the cat is appraising the current situation.
  • A bushed-out tail usually means the cat feels threatened or endangered.

To learn more about your cat’s behavior, purchase Why Don’t Cats Go Bald? from Catnip. This is one purr-chase you won’t regret!

 

Comments (0)

Be the first to comment on this post using the section below.

New to Tufts Catnip? Register for Free!

Already Registered?
Log In