Tale of the Tail
The tail is so much more then what we see. Yes, it can be fluffy or thin, long or short but whatever the aesthetics are its functions is astounding.
1. It's what makes the cat land on its paws! An amazing balancing tool that acts as a counterweight when kitty walks along fence top or window sill. Remember that amazing sharp turn Fluffy did a few days ago? That would not be possible without The Tail.
2. It's a self-expression organ and a magnificently beautiful one. Cat talks in this myriad of signs, while vocalization amounts to just a limited communication and scents can only be clear to other cats and dogs. Here The Tail is essential.
While it takes some observation, it is very important that you learn the Tail language. Nearly all of the so-called behavioral problems result from a lack of communication between you and Fluffy. She tries to tell you how she feels and what she needs and expects you to understand and follow. And if you have both a dog and a cat, being a multilingual pet parent prevents a lot of headaches.
Nothing says, “OMG I love you so much and I’m so happy to see you!” (per Catster.com) quite like high-tailed kittens. When kitty feels friendly her tail is attempting to decrease the distance between individuals. When the tail is straight up it means that your attention is welcomed and expected.
In times when there is interest with a tiny bit of reserve, a cat will come with a question mark. Just to make sure it is ok to interact, is it? And the moment you acknowledge and approve the tail will shoot back straight up.
And yes, it doesn’t happen with every cat, just some. When the kitty cuddles, he wraps his tail around your arm just like a hug. And your heart just melts!
When they are stalking pray (or toy) cats usually have the tail straight out behind. If you watch very closely the tip might twitch just a tiny bit. As if to keep the focus sharp.
Twitch is an early sign of “Oh, I have something I need to do. Can you let me go please?” Cats often get overstimulated with petting and this is a first sign to stop. So, keep an eye on the tail and obey!
When the cat feels, she needs space she signals it with a variety of flipping motions. Any type of flip is an attempt to increase distance. And if the tail is hitting the floor on each side she is ready to lunch a full-blown attack. Walk away human! You don’t have what it takes to win that battle…
Tail between legs
Is the ultimate sign of fear universal between many species. Just remember some cats and people freeze with fear but more often cats (and some people) attack.
Or exclamation mark is when the hair on the tail stands straight. Depending on where the tail is pointing it can express different emotions but neither is good.
If its straight up kitty might be ready to attack. But if it is curved down in the U shape your baby is terrified. Either way, the best approach is to back off and remove the source of excitement. I would not try to comfort a kitty with a bushy tail.
Look at this chart from our friends at Taste of the Wild