Pet Tips

Tip 60 – Cat wagging its tail

When a dog wags its tail in that familiar broad stroked side to side manner, it means the dog is happy and content. When a cat wags its tail it does not mean the same thing at all. A cat wagging its tail is usually a sign of some level of predatory indecision or conflict. A classic example is a cat that is hunting, stalking or tracking something. The cat may be perfectly still, except for its tail which flits from side to side. In this instance, the cat is deciding if and when it should pounce or chase its prey. Cats might also do this when they are playing/fighting with one another and this often happens between two dominant male cats. Once in a while you may notice the cat’s tail is still, but only the tip flutters. This is to be interpreted as a milder form of internal conflict.

Sometimes a cat’s tail might start to flutter while you are petting it. This petting aggression again signals a predatory indecision on the part of the cat. You must stop petting immediately, or you may well get swatted or bitten.

Cats may wag their tails when they sleep. This usually indicates that they are resting contentedly but still alert.

7 Responses to this Article, So Far

  1. Avatar Kimberley says:

    I have a 3 year old cat, and since the day i got her she’s been consistently wagging her tail. I have never seen her with her tail still, it doesn’t matter if she’s sleeping, eating, or just chilling out it just never stops. is there a reason for this?

  2. Avatar Mark says:

    We just adopted a 5 year old female from the shelter and she is very affectionate. Also, her tail wags all the time in a wide back and forth motion, evenly and smooth. This happens when we pet her, when she is lying next to us, and always when we are interacting with her.

    With this cat, we are able to continue our pet from her head all the way to the tip of her tail. Some cats won’t let you pet their tail in your hand, but this one is fine with it. Part of her interaction behavior includes being up close to us for petting, then moving around 2 feet away from us and purring loudly all the while, even though she is not right on top of us. She shows no signs of aggression when her tail is wagging, nor does she swat at us during this time, nor does she seem agitated. To us, it seems as if she is approving the interaction and happy.

    I think the viewpoint that a cat is in “predatory indecision” as soon as its tail wags is only partial true. I have previously seen cat behavior such as this, but the tail was more of a swatting motion from side to side, not evenly and smooth.

  3. Avatar patricia ann blow says:

    I rescued a female cat she is about 4 or 5 yrs she is very nervous,but getting used to me,in her own way,but when smoothing her,she will suddenly lash out & attack my arm or bite my leg,what advice can you give me,pat,

  4. Avatar patrick says:

    When I pet my cat and he wags the top portion of his tail but still has his head stretched looking for attention does it still mean keep going or slowly start to stop I’m kinda confused

  5. Avatar Dee says:

    My neighbour has a female rescue cat and she was badly treated .before he got her was badly.kicked around .Kia she will let you touch her but if he touches anywhere near her rear end or pat her in this way will attack So I would only stroke her in places where she has eye to eye contact such as her head and paws
    . and under her chin .regards Dee.Hope this helps.

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