How Much Control Do Cats Have Over Their Tails

How Much  Control Do Cats Have Over Their Tails? 

You could probably compare a cat’s tail to a cobra that is slowly emerging from within a basket. 

Interestingly enough our cats have learned to meow for our sake only, but they also use their tails to communicate with us. Understanding how cats control their tails and what their tail movements mean can help you gauge how your cat is feeling and it is one of the best indications of the mood your cat is in.You have to take the whole body into account when reading tail signals, says Carlo Siracusa, of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.

Cat’s Tail Anatomy

If we were to mentally dissect a cat’s tail with Superman’s X-Ray vision, we would see that it’s an extension of their spine and not just a separate body part. The tail is composed of up to 20 supple and articulated caudal vertebrae, depending on the species, breed and individual. These vertebrae are enclosed by a versatile musculature making the various segments, especially the tip, capable of finely graded movements.  Similarly, to us, these bones are attached and held together by ligaments, tendons, and 6 distinct muscles. This is a complex system and all these small parts work perfectly together to provide their tail its amazing mobility and flexibility.

Why Do Cats Constantly Move Their Tails?

It’s a common misconception that cats will only wag their tails when they’re angry, but there’s actually loads of reasons why they may do this.Cats behavior can be so confusing. They use their tail movements, along with their eyes, ears, and body postures, to communicate. Understanding cat tail language will help you to better understand your cat. When a cat’s tail is twitching, it’s a sign that they’re concentrating. If they spot something outside that catches their attention, they’ll usually have continuous tail movement.

If you observe that your cat’s tail always seems to be twitching from the tip, perhaps you always catch your cutie when she’s in a less than friendly mood. Maybe you pet her too much and she feels a little overstimulated, so she uses the twitching tail to indicate to you “Stop petting me for now. I’m just not in the mood. When your cat’s tail is quickly twitching, watch out, because it often signifies anger and intimidation. Hyperesthesia, which is extreme sensitivity in an area of a cat’s skin, almost always on the back, and often in the area right in front of the tail. Symptom of this disease can also seen in the form of continuous tail movement. 

What Does a Cat’s Tail Movements Mean?

Each movement of cat’s tail is precious and purposeful, except for sleeping cats. Cat’s tail movements are voluntary and are the sign of their emotions when awake but during sleep their tail move involuntarily. Since their appendage is still intricately connected with their nervous system and spine, it may act out of reflex. 

Despite this a tail movement could also be a reflex, which is an involuntary and nearly instantaneous movement in response to a stimulus.

Their voluntary movements include:

A happy cat, for instance, walks with her tail held high, and a super-happy cat will add a quiver at the tail tip to demonstrate her joy. On a calm cat a straight-up tail with a hooked tip is a friendly greeting, while an aggressive cat may just have its tail straight up.

A cat concentrating on prey will have her tail held low to the ground, although there might be a very slight twitching at the end as she tries to control her excitement.

If your cat’s wagging tail is low, it’s generally an indicator that they’re scared. Their ears may also be pinned back, their body crouched low to the ground and if they’re really scared, they might tuck their tail between their legs too.

Once the tail goes straight down, this signals the beginning of aggression. A slight curve at the top of a tail that goes straight down may express a slightly aggressive, defensive stance.

If your cat is flicking the tip of its tail forwards and backward in a rigid way, there may be something in the environment that is piquing their curiosity or they are being irritated by environmental distrubance such as loud noise. 

If you notice your cat’s tail doing a short, quick twitch, it usually implies concentration. You’re most likely to see this cat tail language when they’re window watching a small critter or bird, and they may even display strange cat sounds like chirping or chattering.

If you catch your cat laying around with their eyes closed and their tail swaying, they might not be sleeping but simply having a lazy day. 

If your cat is hitting you with their tail, they’re doing it for attention; it’s up to you to decide how you want to respond and to find out what they want.

Cats often show their emotional attachments through tail placements. Connection is demonstrated by twining tails around the legs and arms of their favored buddies. Boriana Slabakova, co-founder of PetPedia, says this is the cat equivalent to “humans holding hands.”

In addition to tail wrapping and touching, kitties express happiness and warm feelings by fluffing out the base of their tails while subtly quivering them.

How Do Cats Control Their Tails?

As studied a cat’s tail movement can be voluntary or involuntary because a cat’s tail consists of a series of muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves which give cats a full range of motion over their tail. Thus, cats can control their tail by using the muscles located throughout the base of the tail to tip and flex certain nerves and maintaining the tail’s structure through its tendons and ligaments located along the tail. 

How Do Cats Use Their Tail To Balance?

“A tail acts a bit like a counterweight or stabilizer,” Dr. Fadl told The Dodo. “Think of it as similar to the pole a tightrope walker would use to stabilize themselves.”

Tails work as a counterbalance for felines. If your cat’s weight shifts left, for example, the tail may swing or even rotate in the other direction. It also helps a running cat to stay standing as he makes sharp turns in pursuit of prey … or his favorite toy. 


  • Can Cats Break Their Tails?

A cat’s tail is attached to his spine and is made of vertebrae (along with muscles, ligaments and tendons) — so just like other bones, it can break

  • Do Cats Have Feeling In Their Tail?

Cats can feel every part of their tail.  They may be unable to feel the hair that coats their tail, but they do feel the: Hair follicles.

  • Are Cats Tails Sensitive?

A cat’s tail is a very sensitive and an essential part of their body. Injury to your cat’s tail can sometimes lead to bigger health issues causing a variety of problems including mobility issues, incontinence or nerve damage.

  • Do The Dog Tail Rules Apply To Cat’s Tail?

One thing is for sure, dog tail rules don’t apply to cats. A cat wagging her tail is a sign of irritation, not a friendly greeting.

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