A tail can tell many tales. We all have that image of a friendly dog who with his tail frantically wagging so hard it seems as though he may take off. In this case, the message is pretty clear- you have a happy dog. However, according to the experts, in some cases, the message isn’t quite so clear. When it comes to cats, movement and tail posture are not always easy to interpret. Still- they are sending a message.
If your cat is carrying his tail low, rigid, and flicking it back and forth- he is showing signs of aggression. This is definitely not a happy cat. This often occurs during a visit to the vet- the cat is letting everyone know that he doesn’t want to be there. On the other hand, you may have a cat that is relaxed and surveying the area that also has this tail posture. However, the movement is leisurely and reflects contentment.
If your cat is holding his tail upright, you can believe that he is in a playful mood. There may be some motion back and forth, which is his way of greeting you and letting you know that he’s in the mood to interact.
On the other hand, if the upright tail is quivering on a cat that is backed up into a corner, wall, or furniture, it could be that he is spraying- keep in mind that female cats are just as likely to spray as male cats. If the tail is held upright, but is concave, it’s a defensive aggression stance. The cat does not want to interact.
If your cat has his back arched, his ears pinned back, and his tail erect- he is either ready to react in a defensive or offensive attack. The cat will do anything it feels is necessary and is letting everyone around him know that he’s ready to react in whatever way he needs to.
The truth is that cats are quite expressive and will use their posture, their ear position, their facial expressions, and the position/movement of their tail to show feelings and intentions. Basically, unlike a dog who wags his tail to show happiness, a cat that is ‘wagging” his tail is likely not expressing joy.