Vet Blog

Cat Behavior: Your Cat’s Tail Tells All

June 09, 2021

A cat's tail can tell you a lot about their wellness.

Cats are known for their playfulness and curiosity. At Highway Veterinary Hospital, we believe that understanding this communication can improve your relationship with your pet.

Understand Cat Behavior with a Glimpse of the Tail

Although sometimes it might seem like your cat is blatantly ignoring you, their tail can tell a lot about what they are thinking and feeling. The following tail positions can signify certain emotions:

Tail Up

If your cat's tail is holding up strong, they are feeling confident and friendly. This is a great time to pet or play with them. If the tail is in a question mark shape or a hook-they are super ready to be amused and they expect you to comply with their wishes.

Tail Down

This particular tail signal can be an indicator of pet health. When a cat's tail is in this position, check out the environment. Look around at the big picture to gather some more context clues. Is your cat snuggled into herself and resting? Does she appear to be agitated or anxious? If her tail is tucked around her body and remains above the ground, it may indicate she is tense.

If your cat is lying down with his tail wrapped around his body or sitting, he could be a few things:

  • Scared
  • Preparing for defense
  • Sick

Tail Tucked

If your cat's tail is down and tucked underneath-especially with an arched back, watch out! She does not want to interact and may be getting ready to lash out.

Thrashing or Thumping

If your cat's tail is thrashing or thumping, she could be irritated or anxious. Similar to a human tapping their finger on a table, this one means something in the environment could be better.


Tail quivering is an interesting cat behavior and definitely one to look out for. If a cat is quivering his tail while it is straight-up, he may be urine marking-that is mainly when backing up against a vertical surface.

Question Mark

Good news! This is a friendly and spirited way to say, "I want to play with you!" Pet your furry friend while they are in a good mood.

Wrapping around Your Leg

Saving the best feeling for last-this is a physical, interactive, and affectionate sign that your cat is at the very least, content. At the most, your cat might want to snuggle. This cat behavior is one reason that many people enjoy having cats.

Understanding a cat's emotional state can be complex, but reading cat behavior through the tail is a great place to start! While some of these interpretations can be accurate at the time, know that every cat is different and may have some variation in their own style and personality.

If you want to learn more about your cat's behavior and how you can facilitate your cat's overall wellness, contact us at (301) 249-2005 or request an appointment online today.

We are now accepting new clients!

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Let your pet join our team for the day for extra cuddles and love and pick them up at your convenience!

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