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What does it mean when a cat wags its tail?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Geoffery wags his tail when he sees Luca (our new kitten) and when they are play fighting, is that okay? Or does that mean he is threatened/mad?

post #2 of 17
What I have noticed with my cats is that when Fatman (my pmsing male) is irritated his tail flicks..umm whats the word....impatiently back and forth and its mostly just the tip of it! I also pay attention to his ears cuz when he is mad they start flicking and going back and I know hes about ready to chew someone out for bugging him. Now my other 2 get this casual wagging to their tails as if they are saying look at how pretty I am haha. I think if you watch your cats ears and eyes youll be able to tell better if its out of aggression or playfulness...
post #3 of 17
It depends. If it's a quick swishing/flicking of the tail, it's in pounce/play mode. If it's a gentle wagging, swaying back & forth, it's a happy sign, much like when a dog wags it's tail.
post #4 of 17
They definitely wag their tails for different reasons, and playing is one of them!
post #5 of 17
speaking only for myself and my interpretations/experiences, tail wag means agitated 90% of the time, and 10% of the time it's associated with playing

i remember a friend (who knows nothing about cats) saw penny's tail wagging and said "oh look! she's wagging her tail that means she's happy!" (as in, dogs wag when they're happy)

i laughed to myself silently i didn't have enough energy to explain that he was in error

also, ears back plus wagging plus a pissedoff facial expression = watch out
post #6 of 17
Well, I think it depends on the cat, but if it is a fast side-to-side swish, you can be certain it's aggression.

My Ferris wags just the tip of his tail, back & forth, back & forth, constantly when he's eating or just plain old happy.
post #7 of 17
I'm a new "cat person" and one of the first things I learned was that cat tail wagging is WAY different than dog tail wagging.

When my cat plays (should I say on the RARE occasion that she plays) the tip of her tail will "switch" back and forth. And definitely when her ears are back and her pupils are large I know she's in no mood for affection.

But she will wag her WHOLE tail (sometimes) when I'm petting her and she's enjoying it. But I usually find that her tail wagging means she wants to be alone or wants to play.
post #8 of 17
When Normand (BF's cat) wags his tail, it means he intends to bite you. You should avoid him for at least a few minutes
post #9 of 17
i love this diagram. of course, every kitty has their own rules for their tail
post #10 of 17
LMAO at #3 in the top row!!! Stop! Stop! ROFL! Gotta be on the lookout for that one!

I see Penny with #2 in the middle row (straight out) quite a bit ....... and #2 in the bottom row a lot ("potentially agressive" - my my - I never knew about that)

Bushy tail also means extremely startled, as most of us know.
post #11 of 17
in my household, #2 in the middle row (straight out) means "cautious", or at least that's how i interpret it

and #1 in the middle row (all the way up with a little twist) is as stated = "friendly, but a tad unsure" ... again, speaking only for myself.
post #12 of 17
The tails in this house are Members Of The Family. Tolly's Tail is used to communicate love and possessiveness. If he is near me his tail is wrapped around a part of me. Or he will walk next to me with his tail pressed against my leg.

Mazy's keeps me in laughter as it is so expressive and responds to every little stimulus in very hilarious ways. She has a funny way of holding it in a hump (see 3rd pic 2nd row) and waving it in all sorts of ways, while being held in that position. Her tail never stops moving.

Jennie's Tail is a very quiet individual.

One of my favorite things to do is to sit quietly and speak to each cat in turn, just to see the tails rattle.

"Mazy" I'll say and just the tip will rattle. Mazy. A bigger rattle. But if I keep on with it, soon I've got a fully lashing wiggling thumping Tail. heehee

I love Tails!
post #13 of 17
Riley's tail is very long and heavy so he almost never lifts it up. Most of the time it drags the ground like a dust mop. If he is slightly irritated he will twitch the end of it a bit. If he's mad he flops the whole thing up and down really hard, lol. He does swish it side to side a bit when he's about to pounce on something.

Xander wags his like a dog
post #14 of 17
one of my kitties will wag his tail so enthusiastically his whole butt goes with it whenever i get out the wet food it's a happy wag.
post #15 of 17
Originally Posted by kwren View Post
one of my kitties will wag his tail so enthusiastically his whole butt goes with it whenever i get out the wet food it's a happy wag.
wow, that's like a dog
post #16 of 17
When Oscar flips his tail he is pissed at me or annoyed.
post #17 of 17
When Rusty's tail is flying high over her body, almost touching her head, she is happy. If she sees another cat outside, her tail will flick back and forth.

Dusty's tail is deformed and she can't fly it like Rusty. It curves off to the side
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