9 Common Reasons Why Cats Wag Their Tails

9 Common Reasons Why Cats Wag Their Tails

Author WCF Staff


We all know that cats are somewhat different from dogs. While tail wagging in dogs will, in most cases, mean that the dog is happy and ready to play, wagging tail in cats can mean all sorts of things. We know that cats are experts in hiding their feelings, and to understand your cat, you must learn to read cats' body language.

Their tail can help you with this and let you know if your cat is feeling happy, scared, or in pain. The following tips will help you better understand cats' body language and what different tail positions mean. Let's start.

Why do cats wag their tails?

To fully understand the message your cat will try to communicate with tail wagging, you must watch the whole cat's body, not just the tail. Tail wagging can mean all sorts of things. When trying to understand why your cat does it, you will have to see if your cat is standing or lying down, whether she is hissing or growling, and the position of her hair (lying smooth or standing).

All these things will help you understand what the cat is trying to tell you. Let's take a closer look at why your cat could wag her tail.

1. Straight up tail

This type of tail will indicate that the cat is confident and ready to play. This might happen in the known environment for the cat while she is approaching other cats and when she is ready to play. This type of tail can be seen most often.

Straight up tail

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2. Swaying

Swaying with their tail while laying on the ground, and sometimes followed by purring, will indicate that your cat is happy. She will have a relaxed posture that will also indicate she is happy.

3. Flicking

If your cat starts to slowly flick her tail from side to side while the tail is in lower posting, this could indicate that your cat is in pain. Try to play with your cat to confirm these guesses. If you are unsure what is causing your cat's pain, you should contact your vet and explain what is happening.

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4. Twitching

Tail twitching can happen because of different reasons. The first suggests that your cat needs some alone time and doesn't like to be bothered. This tail twitching will be followed by your cat turning you back and watching in a different direction.

Also, tail twitching can happen when they focus on birds outside.


5. Swishing

Tail swishing will happen when your cat is ready to attack. Before the cat starts an attack, you must notice other body language signs, such as standing still and focusing on the object. This could be directed to some object, bird, or mouse. Either way, after the attack happens, your cat's body language will reveal your cat's intention.

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6. Tucked Tail

If you notice tucked tail in your cat, most likely she is in pain. Unlike dogs with a tucked tail when they are scared, cats tuck tails when they are in much pain. Call your vet if you are unsure what is bothering your cat and don’t know how to help her.

7. Wrap tail

Wrapping a tail around their person will indicate affection. This is always a good sign, equivalent to people hugging each other. Your cat can wrap their tail around different parts of your body, but the message will still be the same.

cat yawning

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8. Question mark

If your cat formats her tail in a question mark, it is usually a sign that your cat is playful. It is a way for cats to communicate with other cats and say hello. Question mark tail is also one of the most used in cats' world.

9. Sleep twitch

If you ever pet your cat while she is sleeping and she suddenly starts twitching her tail, it simply means that your cat feels your presence, but she is comfortable enough to carry on with sleeping. Some cats will not like to be bothered while sleeping and will let you know the first time you try to pet them.


A cat's tail can tell you a lot about a cat's mood. Different tail wagging could indicate that your cat is happy, playful, scared, or even in pain. As a responsible cat owner, it is best to read cats' body language because if your cat is in pain, you will have to notice it and help her. If you don't recognize these patterns, your cat could be in pain for a longer period of time and potentially develop serious health problems.

World Cat Finder Team

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