How to Read Cat Tail Language

Cats may not be able to speak, but they can express all sorts of emotions using just their tail! You might have noticed that your feline friend moves and shapes their tail in lots of different ways. But why do cats wag their tails? What does it mean when a cat’s tail is down and curved? What does a hook in a cat’s tail mean?

Cat tail language is easy to read once you know how. Simply look for the different movements and shapes your cat makes with their tail, and consult our handy article to discover what they’re trying to tell you. From little flicks, to a question mark shape, there are lots of different cat tail meanings. Once you’ve learnt to understand them, you and your furry friend will have an even stronger bond.

Cat Tail Language 101

Here are the main cat tail movements and shapes, and what they mean!

Straight Up

A cat with their tail up is feeling happy, confident, and sociable. If their tail is also quivering, this means they’re excited!

Question Mark or Hook Shape

A curve at the end of a cat’s tail has a similar meaning to when they position it straight up in the air. It means they’re being friendly, and want to interact with you. They might even be eager to play a game!

Puffed Up

If a cat’s tail is puffed up, and maybe bristling too, it’s a sign they are irritated or afraid. This cat tail language is often accompanied by an arching of the back.


Tail ‘wagging’, thrashing or thumping is cat tail language for anger. Unlike dogs, a wagging tail for a cat is not usually a good sign!

Tail Wrapped Around Your Leg

Just like humans shake hands or hug when they say hello, cats like to use their tail to greet their favourite people. If your cat wraps their tail around your legs, consider it a warm greeting!

Tail Wrapped Around Their Body

This behaviour is often exhibited by cats as a way to keep warm, particularly when they’re sleeping. However it can sometimes mean that the cat is feeling vulnerable or defensive. Wrapping their tail around their own body can indicate that a cat is unwell or in pain. If you’re concerned, consult your vet.

Low to the Ground

If a cat’s tail is lowered below the level of their back, or even between their legs, they are likely feeling scared or anxious.

End of Tail Twitching

If your cat is playing or hunting, they might twitch the end of their tail. It’s just a small movement, and can suggest concentration. However, this tail movement can also be a sign that they are a bit irritated, so look out for other signs to ascertain their mood.

Slowly swishing

Cats might slowly swish their tail from side to side if they are concentrating intently on something – the chances are, they are about to pounce!

Wrapping Up

It’s only natural for cat owners to want to communicate better with their pet – and now you can! Cat tail language can tell us a lot about what they are feeling, and help us to understand them better. Cats can also convey their love and affection for you with their tail! For more information about spotting the signs that your cat loves you, check out this blog. Now, what’s your cat’s tail doing at the moment? Let us know in the comments!

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