These cat tail movement meanings will help you understand your cat better.

Cats use their tails to communicate with us.

These specific cat tail movements tell us when they are happy, excited, scared, and annoyed.

Here are your cat’s tail movement meanings:

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1. Straight up tail means a cat is comfortable

Cats are territorial creatures so they consider our homes their territory.

A cat that walks around with his tail sticking straight up is confident and comfortable with his territory.

cat tail meaning cat tail sticking straight up
A straight-up tail:
  • Shows respect to other animals
  • Says “I intend no harm”
  • Your cat is confident and comfortable
  • Says “I’m happy to meet you”

Wild cats use this straight-up tail movement when meeting other animals.

The same cat tail meaning translates to our home life.

This tail movement is a good sign that we’re keeping our cats happy.

A straight-up tail movement means your cat is comfortable in your home.

2. Straight up tail with a curl at the end means a cat is happy

The same tail movement meaning applies here with a straight-up tail.

cat tail sticking straight up with small curl

The curl at the end means comfortable plus happy and friendly.

Socialized and happy cats walk around with a slight curl at the end of a straight-up tail.

3. Hook-shaped tail means a cat is curious and playful

This larger hook-shaped curl in your cat’s tail means that he is curious about what’s happening.

And he’s feeling playful.

cat hooked shape tail
  • Cats are curious creatures
  • They love to inspect things
  • This is the perfect opportunity to engage in playtime

I work with cats professionally. A lot of clients are shocked that I can get their cats to play.

But the advice is simple: I play with cats when they are curious. And I keep them engaged.

Take advantage of what your cat is telling you with a hooked tail and get those toys out.

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4. Low hanging tail with curl means a cat is cautious but still curious

A low-hanging tail with a slight curl means the cat is interested. But he wants to be cautious.

cat tail meaning low and curved up
  • Cats are curious by nature
  • They may not be straight-up tail confident in a new environment
  • First assess the situation then confidence comes

This is useful when we take our cats to a new environment or change things around our home.

Make sure any changes that you make to your home are gradual. This will give your cat the proper time to adjust.

Cats love and need routines to be happy and feel safe.

Changing routines too quickly can stress cats out. We can use these cat tail meanings to know if we are changing routines too quickly.

5. Low tail between the legs means a cat is scared

Cats’ tails go low and between their legs when they are scared, worried, or nervous.

  • Exact opposite of the straight-up confident tail
  • This is crucial, especially when meeting a cat for the first time
  • Take a few steps back if you see this tail language
  • You need to take it slower

Cats prefer everything to be done at their pace and on their terms. We need to respect that.

We lose trust from our cats when we rush this process.

Cats are much different than dogs. Dogs work to earn our trust. We need to work to earn our cat’s trust.

The cat’s tail will be low and between the legs when he is scared. Cats’ bodies also get closer to the ground when they are scared or nervous.

6. Tail whipping back and forth quickly movement means a cat is annoyed

Cats move their tails around very quickly when they are annoyed or frustrated.

  • Cats may do this during brushing and petting
  • Some cats will swat or bite if they are overstimulated
  • Watch for these signs so that you don’t get scratched

Typically, dogs wag their tails quickly when they are excited.

However, with cats, this tail movement has the opposite meaning.

Stop interaction if your cat’s tail is whipping around quickly.

Give your cat some time to calm down on her own.

A quick whipping tail means your cat is annoyed. Stop what you’re doing. We have to respect cats for them to be comfortable and happy in our homes.

7. Poofy tail means a cat is excited or scared

This poofy pipe-cleaner-looking tail means your cat is feeling extreme emotion.

We need to use some context with poofy tails to decide which emotion your cat is feeling.

kitten poofy tail
  • An arched back, hissing, or lunging means anger
  • Rubbing on things, rolling around, and purring means your cat is happy

In the wild, poofy fur and an arched back make cats appear larger. This is a defense mechanism.

If your cat’s fur is poofy and he’s rubbing, rolling, and purring then he is extremely happy and excited to see you.

8. Quickly shaking tail movement means a cat is excited

You’ll see this quick shake toward the base of the cat’s tail where it meets his back.

The tail will shake vigorously.

  • A quick shake means excitement
  • Wild cats do a quick tail shake before they spray to mark their territory
  • Even fixed cats will quickly shake their tail

If your cat’s tail quickly shakes, he is excited or marking his territory.

Jericho’s tail quickly shakes when it’s mealtime and playtime. A few clients do this quick shake when I arrived for cat sitting visits.

It’s so wonderful to know that they are excited to see me.

A quickly shaking tail is a great sign. It means your cat is comfortable and happy at home. Or he is marking his territory.

Final thoughts on cat tail meaning

It can be difficult to know what our cats want from us since we can’t speak to each other.

But understanding cat tail movement meaning is a sure way of knowing how they feel.

Our cats are family members. We need to do everything we can to make sure they are comfortable and happy in our homes.

Make sure you dress your home with cat essentials like cat condos, beds, scratching posts, and lots of toys to enrich their lives indoors.

Need a centralized place to keep track of everything related to your cat? Grab my Cat Care Binder Bundle!