Q:

Why do cats move their tails?

A:

Quick Answer

Cats move their tails to communicate their moods and thoughts. The posture and position of a cat's tail and the way it is moving communicate what a cat is thinking and feeling.

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Full Answer

Cats communicate a wide array of thoughts, emotions and intentions by how they position and move their tails. Understanding the meaning of a cat's body language is key to understanding the cat's behavior. About 10 percent of a cat's bones are found in the tail, allowing the cat tremendous range in how it moves its tail. While the tail does serve as a rudder for balancing, communication with humans and other cats often takes place nonverbally.

A cat approaching with its tail pointed upright and quivering is expressing affection and excitement. When a cat holds its tail low to the ground and the tail is puffed, the cat is expressing fear or uncertainty. A twitching tail, especially when the cat is sitting, expresses annoyance, while a cat that lashes its tail back and forth is angry. The faster the cat lashes its tail, the angrier it is. Most cats do not want direct conflict and use these very visible cues before the conflict escalates into bites and scratches.

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