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How to Read Feline Tail Twitches

  • April 24, 2011
  • 6:01 pm
How to Read Feline Tail Twitches

Although cats have long, expressive tails, you won’t catch them wagging them. Cats do more of what we call tail twitching, where just the tip of the tail moves. And it rarely means they’re feeling happy when they do it.

By the Editors of

Fast-twitching tip

Cats who are agitated or irritated seem to channel all of their energy into the top 2 inches of their tails, which will briskly twitch back and forth. Some cats will also twitch their tails when you pet them, right before they turn around and give you a playful bat on the hand. It’s just a sign of excitement.

Tail lashing

A cat who’s slightly irritated will twitch her tail. A cat who’s very irritated is more likely to lash it back and forth. That’s when it’s time to really back off.

Your guide to reading your cat’s ears.

Slow-twitching tip

People who are comfortable and relaxed sometimes gently tap their feet. Happy cats do a similar thing by slowly twitching and rolling the tips of their tails. If you’re not sure if what you’re seeing is a fast or slow twitch, look at the rest of the cat: A cat who is content will also relax her whiskers, and her body will be downright limp.

Tail high and quivering

Even though cats don’t wag their tails the way dogs do, sometimes they’re so happy that their entire tails go into a bit of a quiver. When a cat is facing you and the tail is erect and quivering all along its length, you’re being told, “You’re the best thing in the whole world.”

Read more: Behavior & Communication, Cats, Pets, , , , , ,

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5:54PM PDT on Jun 2, 2014

Im not sure I agree, when my cat is sitting on my lap and I am patting her, her tail swishes around a lot, if I stop patting her tail still does the swishing and she head butts my arm to keep patting again.. It doesn't seem like she is aggressive or telling me to stop patting at all

6:10AM PST on Mar 6, 2014

My kitty's twitch their tails while looking out the window at the birds on the deck. Big excitement!

5:31AM PST on Feb 18, 2013

My dog thinks he's a cat...:)

9:23PM PDT on Oct 29, 2012

Thank you for article.

9:23PM PDT on Oct 29, 2012

Thank you for article.

12:40PM PDT on Aug 22, 2012

Sometimes the tail erect and quivering means the kitty is about to spray so be careful. =)

2:43AM PDT on Jun 1, 2011

I wuv kittehs =^.^=

4:49PM PDT on May 31, 2011

Oh goodie, mine think I'm the best thing in the world!

12:42PM PDT on May 17, 2011

"When a cat is facing you and the tail is erect and quivering all along its length, you’re being told, “You’re the best thing in the whole world.” --- This just made my day! * Love *

4:55AM PDT on May 16, 2011

interesting, thanks

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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