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Interpreting Your Cat’s Tail Movements

You’ve probably wondered many times what your cat is thinking or feeling. Did you know that one of the best ways to determine what’s going on in that feline brain of hers is by watching the tail? Below, a Marietta veterinarian tells you about some of the basic tail maneuvers you’ll see your cat perform.

The Gentle Curve

A cat with a gently curved tail, commonly thought of as a question mark shape, signifies that the animal is in a playful mood. She’s probably looking to stalk some prey, romp around on the floor, or bat at a piece of string. Indulge your pet’s mood, and oblige her with toys, a laser light, string, or whatever else she enjoys playing with.

The Hoist or Flagpole

Some people refer to the hoisted, straight, and rigid tail as the “flagpole” position. This means your cat is feeling confident, self-assured, and generally contented. Most cats will be friendly in this mood, so give your cat some love with petting and verbal praise.

The Wrap

Have you seen your cat wrap her tail around your leg as she brushes by? Perhaps you’ve seen your pet wrap the tail around another cat, or even a pet of a different species. This maneuver shows love and affection—it’s your cat’s way of wrapping a protective or loving arm around someone! Thank your cat and love her back.

The Tuck

Everyone’s heard the expression about tucking a tail between your legs. Pets do it quite literally, as the tuck indicates fear, submission, agitation, and nervousness. You’ll see your cat tuck the tail up under the back legs when she’s been frightened by a sudden noise, another pet, or a foreign presence of some kind.

The Puff

Have you ever seen your cat’s tail go completely rigid and puff up, often accompanied with an arched back and hissing? This is your cat’s way of making herself look bigger and therefore more threatening. She’s perceiving danger and attempting to ward it off, letting the threat know she’s prepared to defend herself.

Curious about more of your cat’s tail positions and what they mean? Consult your Marietta veterinarian for more information about your cat’s body language.

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