Ever wish your feline friend could talk to you? You may be surprised to know that they are actually saying a lot through body language and their tails, specifically!
Let’s start with a basic anatomy lesson: 10% of the bones in your kitty’s body are in her tail. That’s a lot! These bones are known as “caudal vertebrae” and there are about 20 to 23 of them. Your cat’s tail is actually an extension of her spine. The tail connects to her body at the “tail head” which controls the bowels. Therefore, injury to the tail would result in damage to the large intestine or bladder.
The tail is very important in terms of balance. Your cat uses her tail as counterweight. Meaning, if she looks right, her tail will move in the opposite direction. Her tail also plays a significant role in her ability to make very sharp turns while in pursuit of prey.
But what about cats who’ve had their tails amputated for health reasons or breeds born without them? Not to worry! If your kitty had her tail removed, she can learn to balance again, no problem. It will just take some time and TLC. Many cats are born without tails, so they have especially sensitive vestibular tubes in their ears to compensate.
In addition to being biomechanically useful, your furry friend’s tail also allows her to tell you how she’s feeling. We’ve compiled a handy list of kitty body language so that you can become fluent in “cat”.
When your kitty’s tail is held high, she’s showing you she is confident and content. Pro tip: if you look closely at her tail in this state, you’ll be able to tell by a slight twitch at the tip that she is particularly happy.
This tail position is letting you know your furry friend is ready to play with you. Consider taking a break from your routine to engage her with a little a play session.
If you notice your cat’s tail is puffed out like a pipe cleaner, she is trying to look bigger because she’s frightened or ready to fight. Be cautious around your cat when she is in this mood. Try to identify any external stimuli that may be causing this behavior, so that both of you can go back to being happy and healthy.
Position: slowly swishing side to side.
This tail position means your kitty is focused on an object they’re about to attack like a toy or prey.
Usually a lowered tail is a sign of aggression. Your cat is saying that she is in no mood to be messed with. However, it’s important to note that some breeds (notably Persians) naturally carry their tails low.
If your cat’s tail is tucked under, something is scaring her. A tucked tail is a signal of fear, submission, or nervousness.
Position: wrapped around another cat.
This ADORABLE position is a gesture of friendship. It’s basically like putting your arm around a buddy.
So, as you can see, you cat has got a lot to say! Make sure you’re a good pet-parent and listen carefully to your fur-baby. After all, as with any relationship, communication is key.