Although it is hard to tell how cats feel, as a matter of fact, their tails tell you how they feel. This page summarizes 14 patterns with illustrations and comments, such as "Make a tail" and "Wave a tail to left and right." Once you know these patterns, it will help you when you live with a cat.
14 Patterns of Cats' Tail Movements
1. Put their tail straight up in the air.
They show this sign when they feel good at a safe place or happy. Also, they raise their tail to show themselves off. They are masters of their territories. It is as if they are saying, "I'm nice, ain't I?"
2. Stand hairs on end
They do this sign when they stand are apprehensive or aggressive . They do this to intimidate an opponent or prey, or when they feel fear. They make themselves look bigger by standing their hairs on end. Their size is important to help avoid conflict. Sometimes the cause is fear, but most of the time, they do this for attacking.
3. Make their tail into a mountain shape
They do this when they are in tension or before fighting. When there is an opportunity, they make pattern 2 and 3 in combination, which means fighting. The sign means “Do not come any closer.”
4. Sandwich their tail between their legs
This is a sign when they feel helpless fear. Sometimes they do this pose as a sign of "submission" to an opponent, whom they cannot win against at all. In addition, they make this sign when they feel sad, or when they feel extreme anxiety when they go to a new place or an animal hospital. It is one step before a panic situation. So avoid giving them stimulus.
5. Lower their tail
When they are disappointed because they got yelled at by their master, they are down, or they feel ill, they do this sign. You can tell their health condition with this sign.
6. Long tail waving
They do this sign when they find something interesting. When they feel "What's this?", they have a question, or they watch something, they often do this sign. Sometimes they wave their tails when they are relaxed or when they are not thinking anything.
7. Short tail wave
This is when they are annoyed or feel bad. It can also show they are restless. It is like people shaking their leg.
8. Swing their tail from left to right
It shows confidence. They show their strength by walking majestically and swinging their tail from left to right. It is also a sign that they are within their territory.
9. Shake a tail rapidly
They do this when they are frustrated or are mad. They feel bad so it's better to leave them alone. Be careful of an outburst: they may suddenly bite or scratch you.
10. Wave their tail in rhythm
They do this sign when they are concentrated in order to catch their prey. They also do this when they are thinking something or pondering.
11. Wave their tail slowly side by side while sitting
They do this when they are thinking what they should do. They also wave a tail like this when they cradle kittens.
12. Wave the tip of their tail while laying down
They reply to you only with a tail because it is troublesome to wake up. It is like an amiable reply, like "Oh, yeah." It may also like a conditioned reflex.
13. Snuggle their tail when being held
They do this when they feel fear. When animals show their belly, it means they are showing their weakest point. They "protect" themselves by hiding. On the contrary, it means they are confident if their tail is falling.
14. Shake their tail strongly when being held
This sign shows that they don't like being held. On the contrary, it means they are confident when they wave their tail slowly.