We all have seen our dogs communicating their emotions through tails, it is the same with cats. They do express their emotions using their tails. We can never know whether they do this voluntarily or instinctively, however, you can read their minds by keeping an eye on their tail.
Strange right…? How can we read a mind just by observing their tails…?
One more fact is, “you can predict their mood or their next move just by watching their tail.”
Read this article, and you might get to know more…
Can Cats Control Their Tails?
The answer varies, a cat can control her tail depending on the situation. Some tail movements are involuntary, which can happen when cats are sleeping, or in a situation where they are either very excited or scared.
Usually, cats control their tail to communicate or express their feelings toward other felines or their human companions.
Cat’s tails consist of muscle, nerves, tendons, and ligaments, which give them voluntary movement access to their tail. However, their tail can also move involuntarily like when they are deeply focused on something, it can be something they love or something that scares them.
Imagine a scenario when you are surprised by someone you love or with something you love, you would not be able to not be happy. The same thing happens with cats, only difference is, that they can’t express it by speech or laughter, their tail will do this job for them.
Why Do Cats Have Tails?
Cats need a tail to keep balance during their normal day-to-day activities, their tails serve as a counterbalance when walking in narrow places like shelves, walls or fences, etc.
Also, a tail helps cats to keep balance when running, hunting, or jumping. You must have heard this about cheetahs and other wild cats on any wildlife show. It is just the same with our domestic cats, except for the fact that cheetahs can run faster than our cats.
Cats also use their tails to communicate with humans and other cats about how they are feeling at that very moment.
Do Cats Feel Their Tails?
Yes, cats can feel their tail, they have nerve endings on it. Tails are an extension of the spinal column, which is made up of vertebrae, this makes their tail more sensitive than other parts of the body.
Cat tails can feel the pain and touch. Some cats won’t let you touch their tails, however, it is not the same for all cats. If they let you touch it, consider that they are comfortable with you.
They will not feel anything on the tip of their tail as it does not have any bone or skin in it, it’s just fur.
How Do They Move Their Tails?
Cats have nerves, muscles, fibers, and ligaments on their tail, hence it gives them the ability to move their tail as they wish. There are two different types of tail movements, voluntary and involuntary. Let me explain them to you.
- Voluntary: Voluntary movements are the ones that cats do by intention, by their choice, or in other words, the movements that a cat would perform under their conscious control.
- Involuntary: The movements performed by a cat unintentionally or under their subconscious control, their autonomous system is making them do things like swaying their tail or jumping off when frightened.
It is a non-verbal communication method that all the animals use to talk to us using their body language. Sometimes you will find your cat’s tail twitching or swaying during their sleep, it happens when a cat is comfortable in the environment that she is in or, it can be that she is watching a dream.
Involuntary movements can be triggered when there is a sudden change in the mood of a cat, like when she is watching a bad dream, her mood can suddenly trigger involuntary tail movements.
Cat Tail Language
As cats cannot speak, they have their own way of communicating their emotions through tail movements. Sometimes, they will move their tail in front of their human parent in order to express their feelings. Let me shed some light on what kind of body language they will show to express themselves.
- Happy: When a cat is happy, you will find their tail high up with a slight curl.
- Focused: When your cat is focused on something, for example, some other cat or dog or a bird across the street, their tail will be twitching and wagging.
- Content: A content cat will keep her tail loose.
- Unpleased: When her tail is moving in a manner that seems fast and forceful, it means that she is not enjoying the particular situation that she is in.
- Concerned: Concerned cats will keep their tail close to them or lower it or wrap the tail around themselves.
- Terrified: If a cat is terrified, she may either hide or pull back her ears and arch her back with piloerection (bristling or erection of hairs due to involuntary contraction), also you may notice her pupils dilated.
These tail movements can be voluntary or involuntary, depending on the situation.
Can cats live without a tail?
Yes, cats can live without a tail, however, their life would become more difficult than normal. Cats use their tail to maintain balance during movements, it works as a counterbalance when they walk on a backyard wall or very narrow passageways. Also, it might become difficult for them to express their feelings.
Do cats have bones in their tail?
Yes, cats do have bones in their tail. A cat tail comprises an extended spine protected by the vertebral column.
A series of vertebrae make up a vertebral column, the vertebrae at the base of the column is the biggest in tail section, which decreases in size as we go towards the tip of the tail.
Except for this, they do have some muscles, ligaments, and tendons which allow a cat to move their tail.
Why is my cat thumping her tail on the floor?
A cat thumps their tail on the floor when she is either angry or irritated. You should take it seriously and recognize the trigger.
Sometimes you are just petting her, and she thumps her tail on the ground, this is her warning you to stop, or you’d suffer the consequences.
Now that you know, how a cat expresses her feelings, you can build a better bond with your fur baby. You just need to observe their body language, and tail movements, and you will understand what your cat is thinking.
- N.W., A.N., T.K., & M.T. (1994, December). Anatomical structure and action of the tail muscles in the cat. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved July 8, 2022, from National Center of Biology Information.
- C.W., C.J.V.J., & L.A.R. (1998, March). Balance in the cat: role of the tail and effects of sacrocaudal transection. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved July 8, 2022, from National Center of Biology Information.
- International Cat Care. (2019, October 6). What does it mean when a cat’s tail goes bushy? Retrieved July 8, 2022, from Internation Cat Care.