Pop quiz: when a cat flicks his tail, he is feeling:

  1. A) Playful
  2. B) Agitated
  3. C) Hungry
  4. D) Depends on the situation

Cat owners are experts at decoding their furry friend’s body language. As for everyone else? We’re often left scratching our heads trying to figure out what the mysterious creatures mean when they crouch, or suddenly have a frenzy of energy, or walk by with their tails pointing straight up. While we could talk for hours on this topic, today we’re focusing all on the tail (and if you were wondering, the answer to the question above is D!).

Cats send many messages through their tail. Understanding what a certain position or movement in their tail means is key to understanding them – and once you’ve got it down, you’ll be surprised how communicative cats are, with just a subtle flick of their tail!

The basics:

-A tail that is pointing straight up with a slight curve on the end is an amicable position, and is often the position of a cat happily greeting his or her owner at the door. If you’re at a party and a cat approaches you in this manner, they’re saying hi!

-On the contrary, a tail that is pointing straight down or back without a curve is a cat feeling aggressive or agitated.

-A languid swinging motion is often a cat in a playful or focused mood. You’ll see this as cats hunt or focus on a bird outside the window.

-When a cat wraps its tail around its body they may be feeling nervous, submissive or unsure.

– A whipping tail or active wag is often a sign of an agitated or excited cat and generally means, “Do not touch!”

-A puffed, rigged tail is the sign of a fearful cat.

Of course, even with this information, all cats are unique and exhibit unique behavior when it comes to their tails. How does your kitty communicate with his or her tail? We’d love to hear in the comments!