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Why do cats wag their tails?

author Anna Rybová | Care and raising

Have you ever watched your cat and asked yourself what it might be thinking? It sometimes seems that these furry friends enjoy situations in which you don’t know if they love your or want to claw your eyes out. They only sit and watch you from a distance. But sometimes, they can’t keep their poker face and let these emotions go out or they show them on purpose.

And sometimes, cats are betrayed by their own tails which say more than they would like to. Do you know what the reason they wag them is? It’s not that easy as some may think. It's not true that a dog wags its tail when it’s happy and cat lashes it when it’s angry. For both cats and dogs, it’s also about the way they wag it and the reasons might be opposite. If we know what we should observe, a cat’s tail can also be used to understand its feelings, even though it’s not as revealing as dogs’ tails.

But you can recognize many cats’ moods by observing it. Even from its position. Is it down or vertically erect? Does a cat lash it or slowly swing? If you know your cat, you might already have some idea of what it does with its tail in certain moods.

Still laid or freely hanging tail means absolute relaxedness. Erect tail indicates joy. A shape of a question mark signals playful mood. A bristled tail is a threat or a manifestation of aggression.

And now about the already-mentioned wagging. Free, smooth movements from one side to another may indicate happiness. But if it lashes from one side to another, it is vigilant and advises you to do the same. For example in a situation it hears an unknown or suspicious sound.

If a cat jerkily lashes its tail from one side to the other, it means excitement (both positive and negative). If it really swishes back and forth, it is really annoyed. You should stay out of its way. When a tail suddenly goes up from swishing, it’s too late. This indicates an immediate attack. If only a tip of the tail jerks, it is a threatening posture. Only one swish with a tail which is often accompanied by turning a head away means that you’re basically dead for the cat and it doesn’t care about you at all at the moment. It’s a contemptuous signal of cats.

As you case see, a cat’s tail is a really good indicator of a cat’s mood. Have you learned to understand your cat’s movements? Do you know about another mood your cat’s tail reveals?