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How Cats Speak with Their Tails

Your cat's tail can be like a fluttering flag or a lashing whip. Whatever the position, their fluffy tails communicate a range of information and emotions. Here are some tips to help decode kitty's special "language."

Read the signs

Whenever cats wander into friendly territory with nothing but secure feelings and fun exploration ahead, their tails will stick upward. This means they are relaxed and comfortable. Tails pointed downward are a sign of caution or distraction. It could mean the cat is feeling scared or timid or he's on the move and trying to slink without drawing your attention. A tail that is flat against the ground and twitching means the cat is concentrating on something. You'll often see this movement when kitty is eyeballing birds out the window.

Whip it

Just about any cat parent has picked up a cat for a little bit of snuggling and felt her tail whipping back and forth. This signals that she is looking to get a move on and may spring away from you the minute she gets a chance. If around an unfamiliar cat with a fast-switching tail, don't attempt to pet or pick her up. She's telling you loud and clear to stay away.

Whenever your cat's tail suddenly puffs out to double its size, take note. This signals that kitty is being confronted with a threat and is doing everything in his power to make his own hostility clear. In cat language, your cat is telling the intruder cat to "scram!"

Keep an eye on your cat's tail. In most cases, the tail speaks much louder than words—or meows.