Why Do Cats’ Tails Move When You Talk to Them? All About a Cat’s Tail Language

Grey cat wearing red collar lying and looking up
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Cat owners want to know every little thing about their feline friends. But figuring out our cats is not an easy feat. It needs keen observation and a lot of careful analysis to understand why a cat does something. So, have you ever wondered why do cats’ tails move when you talk to them? What do they want to tell you when they wag their tails?

A common belief is that cats wag their tails when they are joyful or excited. This is a tell-tale sign that your kitty feels happy and safe around you. But there is more to it—she may also flicker her tail when she feels nervous.

Therefore, to better understand why cats move their tails when you talk to them, we have added all the possible reasons behind this behavior.

A Flickering Tail—What is Your Cat Telling You?

Why do cats’ tails move when you talk to them? What does it mean when a cat’s tail moves or vibrates? Tail wagging is more common in dogs, but when cats move or vibrate their tails, it is called flickering or twitching.

Cats use their tails and their body posture to communicate, so understanding their tail language can help you to better know your kitty. There are certain reasons why a cat flickers her tail. These are discussed in detail below.

· Your Cat is Happy

The most common reason why a cat moves her tail is that she is happy and joyful. If the tip of her tail is moving while she is otherwise calm, it means she is excited to be around you. According to an article in the National Geographic by Carlo Siracusa of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, “on a calm cat, a straight-up tail with a hooked tip is a friendly greeting.”

Thus, a vibrating tail is a clear sign that your feline friend is happy to see you and wants to play. So, whenever you see your cat with this tail position, make sure to give her attention and affection.

Grey tabby kitten with her tail straight up looking at the camera
Photo by Ioana Cristiana on Unsplash

· You Cat feels Safe

Another possible reason your cat may move her tail when you communicate with her is that she feels safe. She is calm, relaxed, and doesn’t feel threatened or anxious. When your kitty is lounging around, and you call her name, she would gently start flickering her tail.

This is a clear indication that your cat trusts you and feels safe in your presence. Accompanied by a sweet meow or a soft blink, this tail flickering means your kitty is inviting you to give her some gentle pets.

· Marking Territory

A cat that hasn’t been spayed or neutered may be straightening her tail and wagging it whenever she intends to mark her territory. Cats and dogs mark their territories by spraying urine so they can leave behind their smell. This way, they keep other cats and dogs out of their area. It is their way of telling them that the place or the human is taken.

· Your Cat is Afraid or Scared

Sometimes, a cat can suddenly start to feel unsafe or threatened by something or someone in her surroundings. In such instances, your kitty would tuck her tail between her legs and run to hide in a safe place.

If your feline friend has heard you speak loudly, or if you have scolded her, she may start feeling unsafe and take refuge in her hiding places, such as in an attic or inside a ceiling. It is also possible that a cat feels uncomfortable if there is a new pet or a new family member, or a stranger in the house.

Asian Semi-longhair Cat on Grass looking towards the camera
Photo by Lynn Elder:

· Your Feline is Angry or Annoyed:

It is also possible that a cat is fast moving her tail back and forth because she is annoyed or frustrated about something. It may signal that a cat is angry or annoyed about something in her surroundings, such as another cat or a new pet.

If you find that your cat is showing agitation towards another cat, you should try to de-escalate the tension between them and separate them from one another. This helps in keeping the environment friendly for your cats.

Thus, it is to be kept in mind that while a cat’s straightened tail indicates her happiness, a fuzzed-out tail with an angry hiss can signal your cat’s anger or annoyance.

· Your Kitty is in Pain

Lastly, if nothing else seems to be the reason and you are still wondering why do cats’ tails move when you talk to them, they may be in pain. It is very easy for a cat to hide her pain from her owners so you need to keep a closer eye on your kitty.

If your feline friend is sick and she is experiencing pain and discomfort, her tail may point it out.

A cat may have an uncomfortable body posture when she urinates, or her tail may flinch, which can indicate she is in pain. Tumors, neurological disorders, and wounds like bite or scratch marks can cause pain and discomfort in a cat’s tail.

So, you need to be more observant around your feline fellows so you can instantly know whenever there is something unusual.

Reading a Cat’s Tail Language

So, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that the tail of a cat works as a barometer for their emotions. If you can read their tail language, you would better understand your feline fellow and respect her boundaries.

In order to understand her better, you should observe her body posture and tail language. Below, we have listed some of the common tail movements.

  • Wagging a Tail’s Tip: This indicates your feline fellow is enraged and wants to be left alone. Unlike dogs wagging their tails when they are happy, a cat wags the tip of her tail to show anger or annoyance.
  • Twitching Tail: When a cat twitches her tail, it means she is curious about something. Cats are curious creatures, so it is only natural for them to be interested in their surroundings. Thus, their twitching tail is a sign that they are intrigued by something around them.
  • Puffed Up Tail: If a cat’s tail is puffed up, it shows she is feeling threatened or scared. It is their defense mechanism, and it makes them appear bigger than they actually are. This may also be accompanied by growling sounds, hissing, and spitting.
  • Quivering Tail: When a cat’s tail rattles, it means she is happy and excited. If your cat’s tail starts quivering whenever she sees you, it shows that she loves you and likes to be around you.

Final Thoughts

To build good and friendly relations with your kitty, it is essential to understand her. By giving her affection and time, you can ensure your fluffy fellow is happy and contented around you. It is also important to observe your cat closely so you can learn more about her body and tail language.

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