A Guide to Understanding Your Cat

The Tail:

Here’s a quick primer on the most common tail positions and what communication clues they offer:

A confident, contented cat will hold her tail high in the air. A tail that is erect like a flagpole signals a happy mood or a friendly greeting. Cats often send this message as they approach a welcoming person. If the top third of the tail twitches as the cat nears you, this means he totally adores you.

Question Mark
A tail looking bent in a question mark often conveys a playful mood. This would be a good time to engage in a five- or ten-minute play session.

Tucked Away
A tail curved beneath the body signals fear or submission. Something is making kitty nervous.

Puffed Up
A pipe cleaner of a tail reflects a severely agitated or frightened cat who is trying to look bigger to ward off danger.

A tail that whips rapidly back and forth indicates both fear and aggression. It is a warning sign meaning “stay away.”

Flying Low
A tail positioned straight down, parallel to the legs, may represent an aggressive mood. Be wary. That said, there are exceptions to this rule with certain breeds such as Persians, Exotics, and Scottish Folds. They normally tend to carry their tails lower than their backs.

A tail that swishes slowly from side to side usually means the cat is focused on an object. Cats often swish their tails right before they pounce on a toy mouse. It is part of their predatory nature.

A tail that twitches just at the tip is a sign of curiosity and excitement.

Below is a pictorial guide to interpreting tail positions.

And finally, the Eyes…


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