Cat tails are a very important part of their vocabulary! They use them to express their emotions and learning to read what your cats tail position is telling you, is very valuable.
Tail curled under the body
If a cats is very nervous, frightened or insecure their tail could be tucked underneath their body – often curling between the legs and hugging the belly. This is a sign of anxiety, where the cat feels more secure with its tail tucked away – making them appear smaller and less threatening. You can observe the same sort of body language in frightened dogs.
Tail limp and relaxed
This is your cats “default” tail position. It indicates the cat is relaxed.
Tail straight up like a ships mast
This can be often seen as your cat walks towards you. In cat language a straight up tail is like a smile. The cat is happy and indicating it wants to greet you. This tail position signals confidence and happiness. A variation of the straight up tail is what I call the “question mark tail” where the tail has a curve in it like a question mark.
The “question mark tail” is the sassier version of the straight up tail.
The Twitchy Tail
If this little section of tail is twitching back and forth, then the cat is really interested in something. Commonly seen as a cat looks out a window, or watches a human doing something interesting.
Super Smash Tail
This video is of a very mild “Super Smash Tail”, but this indicates the cat is annoyed. This can progress to very violent tail wagging and if the cat is sitting can involve thumping the tail on the ground. Often this tail wagging will tell you its a good time to stop patting the cat or face their wrath.
If your cats tail puffs up like a bottlebrush or a squirrel then it it very scared. Cats try to make themselves appear larger and scarier to discourage enemies. The squirrel tail can be accompanied by fur on the back fluffing up like a mohawk. Think your typical witches cat silhouette!