If you’ve observed a cat for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed their tails shaking or twitching. There is a reason for everything that cats do, and what they do with their tails is no exception.
Why do cats shake their tails? According to Christian Adams, there are various reasons that range from happiness to anger, impatience, and anxiety.
This video shows an example of a cat shaking its tail from excitement and happiness.
What Motions Do Cats Use When Shaking Their Tails?
The most important thing to remember about a cat shaking its tail is that it is a form of communication. Other cats understand the body language behind a shaking tail. As a cat owner, you will learn to understand what these motions mean pretty quickly.
Although most people see their cat’s tail at rest, there are different motions a cat may use. PetPlan describes the most common motions that cats make with their tails.
Some of these motions include keeping the tail wrapped or tucked when agitated, swishing, which signals possible aggression, and a tail up when feeling friendly. Sometimes the movement only involves the tail, and sometimes the whole body gets involved.
In most cases, the reasons why a cat shakes its tail are benign and nothing to worry about. Sometimes, a shaking tail is a sign of something requiring medical attention. Understanding the reasons a cat’s tail moves in certain ways is always helpful.
Cat behavior often seems unpredictable at a first glance. However, context often explains what might be going on in the cat’s environment that is affecting its behavior. Other behavior besides tail shaking may provide some answers.
How Else Do Cats Communicate Besides with Their Tails?
According to Pet Place, cats have multiple means of communication that are vocal and physical.
Meowing and chirruping are examples of vocal behaviors that cats have learned through living around humans. Some other vocalizations, like growling, hissing, and purring, are behaviors that cats have inherited from their wild ancestors.
Body language plays a substantial role in how cats communicate without vocalizations or with vocalizations. With body language playing such a role in how cats communicate, it is no coincidence that the tail is very flexible.
The tail’s positioning tells cat owners a lot about what is going on. Position and range of movement are often the best clues that you will have to predict a cat’s mood. Knowing how your cat feels at any time will help you predict its behavior.
Do Cats Shake Their Tails When Happy?
My Pet Needs That highlights four reasons cats might shake their tails when happy. This behavior is not exactly the same as a dog wagging its tail but occurs for similar reasons.
Cats will often shake or twitch their tails during play because they are excited. One of the things that appeal to a cat during play is the opportunity to catch its “prey” in the form of a favorite toy, or perhaps the dot from a laser pointer.
When a cat’s tail shakes while approaching a person, this is a signal that the cat is very happy to see you. Because many cats have a reputation for being reserved, this is something that owners should look forward to.
A cat that twitches its tail on seeing its owner is showing its appreciation. If you notice your cat or a friend or family member’s cat doing so when you approach, consider this a mark of approval.
Cats also shake their tails when happy if food is involved. Most cats know when it’s time to eat and recognize what the people in their household do leading up to feedings. A well-fed cat is a happy, appreciative cat.
Do Cats Twitch Their Tails Because They Are Angry?
One of the signs of a cat moving its tail because of anger is a lashing motion. When a cat’s tail starts to lash, this may be a sign that you need to stop petting the cat. Otherwise, the cat may have enough of the contact and bite or scratch.
According to The Cat in the Box, a wagging motion from a cat’s tail is not a sign of pleasure, it is a sign of annoyance and anger.
You will also need to watch for your cat thumping its tail against the floor. This gesture is also a sign of an angry cat. When cats have reached their limits for handling, they will signal their desire to be left alone with tail language.
Most cats are sensitive about being petted too close to certain parts of their body, like their feet or belly. If you don’t cease petting the cat after getting tail warnings, your cat might growl, swat, hiss, or bite.
Cat body language is relatively predictable for the most part. Although some complaint of getting bitten without warning, this situation is relatively rare. Angry or annoyed cats usually provide fair warning before acting out against their owners.
Do Anxious Cats Twitch Their Tails?
Writer Ramona Marek highlights distinct tail motions that indicate that a cat is feeling fearful and other visual warning signs.
A tail wrapped around a cat’s body may indicate a state of relaxation. However, this is an indicator that the cat needs some alone time. The cat may also feel some anxiety, which makes keeping a reasonable distance a smart idea.
When a cat’s tail is tucked, this is a sign that it is fearful. Finding the cause of the fear reaction is essential. Otherwise, your cat might try to flee from whatever has frightened it and end up getting out of the house and lost.
Although cats hold their tails horizontally when relaxed, a low horizontal tail tells a different story. A cat holding its tail this way is likely fearful and prefers being left alone. Fear can quickly turn to aggression under these circumstances.
When your cat has its tail straight up, this is another possible cause for concern. Cats will often fluff out their fur, including their tails, to appear larger. A cat with a “bottle-brush” tail could get aggressive very quickly.
Taking note of your cat’s tail posture can help you gauge its mood. Knowing when your cat needs space to decompress is always a good idea. You and your cat will enjoy a stronger bond.
Can a Cat’s Shaking Tail Have a Medical Reason?
Wag Walking states that cats may be subject to muscle trembling that affects the entire body or specific areas. The hindquarters and tail are especially vulnerable.
Some of the causes of muscle tremors or twitching, especially in the tail, may include nervous system disorders, trauma or injury, and pain. Any unusual symptoms like these should be checked out by your veterinarian.
The Reasons Why Your Cat Shakes Its Tail Are Mostly Innocent
Even though cats do not wag their tails exactly as dogs do, they use their tails in different ways to express their moods. The position of a cat’s tail may say a lot about its mood and what to expect from it, behavior-wise.
When you understand your cat’s body language, you will have a better assessment of your cat’s mood. Biting and scratching incidents often occur because someone misread their cat’s body language. This situation often happens with children.
Although cats’ tail positions mostly change due to their moods, medical reasons may be responsible sometimes. Staying up to date with visits to the vet will help prevent a lot of health issues and ensure that your cat is healthy.