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 MyPetHealthGuide.com

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.

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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.”

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191 comments

Mallory G.
Mallory G.1 years ago

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

Lis T.
Elisabeth T.1 years ago

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

NO NEWS FWD FOR Ana Marij
Ana R2 years ago

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

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

Linda O.
Linda Owen3 years ago

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

Charmaine Gonzalez

I wuv kittehs =^.^=

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener4 years ago

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

Patricia G.
Patricia G.4 years ago

"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 *

Samantha Hodder
Sam Hodder4 years ago

interesting, thanks