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How Much Control Do Cats Have Over Their Tails

A cat’s tail is among the most enticing body parts, and every cat owner can agree with this. Understanding your pet’s body language is the first step to creating an ideal connection between you and the cat.

Its role in a cat’s body is extensive; sometimes, it uses it to display emotions and other times to disguise itself during naps. The cat’s tail’s behavior leaves lots of questions unanswered, like, do cats have control of their tails?

How Much Control Do Cats Have Over Their Tails?

Yes, cats do control their tails, though not total control. According to a report by National Geographic, most of the movements of a cat’s tail are voluntary, while some are involuntary. Some of these involuntary movements are random and result from specific external factors like mental or physical conditions.

Its tail is also helpful in displaying its emotions as a way to communicate with you. Observing its tail can come in handy, like when the cat is sick or hungry. You can easily understand the cat’s mood and focus by concentrating on its tail movement.


Decoding your cat’s body language and tail movement is a necessity for all responsible cat caregivers. You can tell a lot more than what you think by investing in learning and understanding this skill. When happy, the tail movement pattern must differ from when it is sad, and knowing this will improve the relationship between you and your cat. Most of these movements are typical for all cats, except involuntary actions, which vary from cat to cat.


An excellent example to simplify understanding this concept is the human eye. You automatically blink every once in a while without thinking much about it.

But you can also decide not to and how long to close your eyes very quickly; that is the same control cats have over their tails. If you own a cat, you may observe its tail twitching or thumping when asleep; that is an involuntary tail movement.

Can Cats Feel Their Tails?

Cats do feel their tails, just like they feel their other body parts. In simple terms, it’s an extension of the spine and comprises multiple vertebrates. The nerve endings positioned strategically within it provide the sensitivity felt. It is important to note that sensitivity varies with cats, meaning your cat’s tail may be more or less sensitive than your friends.


This sensitivity in their tails can be well observed when you are brushing them. Some cats hate having their tails brushed, while others seem to look forward to their grooming routines. Susceptible animals dread tail brushing because they cannot handle the feeling of the brush. This observation proves that cats do feel their tails, showing they have substantial control over them.

What A Cat Does With its Tail

The most crucial function of a tail in a cat is body balance. Cats rely on their tails to achieve balance even in extreme conditions, which is why they are very agile animals. For example, a cat walking on a narrow ledge will shift its tail to one direction to achieve the desired balance to look to the other side. This posture will help reposition its center of gravity, ensuring it does not fall off the ledge.


The other vital function of a cat’s tail is to convey emotions. Since it is sensitive and responsive, a cat can use its tail to signal its mood and motivation. Watching and focusing on its tail movement and position can give you a hint of what your cat is feeling. The following section will address some tips that may prove helpful in decoding your cat’s tail.

How to Decode Your Cat’s Tail?

There are two aspects to consider when decoding your cat’s tail; tail position and movement. Here is a detailed guide to help you understand what your cat is telling you via its tail.

Tail Position

High Tails
A high tail in cats is a sign that the animal is in a good mood. It may be because the cat is excited to see you, and most of the time, they are very enthusiastic about interacting. Examining the cat family’s evolutionary roots will lead to a better understanding of why they do this when happy. Cats heavily depended on stealth to increase their survival chances in the wilderness, and they achieved this by keeping their tails low.


Raising its tail is an indication that it is highly visible, hence an indication of openness, curiosity, and friendship. If the tip’s tail slightly curved forward, it shows your pet is actively seeking good interaction, especially if you too had a long day at the office. Be careful not to mistake a frightened cat for a happy cat; they stiffen their legs and puff up the furs along their spines in the latter scenario.


Low Tails
Low tails do not ideally mean the opposite of happiness; it depends on how low it is. Let us take the horizontally positioned tail as the cat’s neutral posture where it neither desires nor detests interaction. The state of passive caution best explains this current mood, and your attempts to pet it are dodged or fended off.


It would be best to show concern when your cat carries its tail very low, almost touching the ground. Remember the cat’s evolutionary instincts and take this as a caution; maybe it is frightening and tucks its tail away to remain undetected. You may observe this behavior after moving to a new house unfamiliar to the cat as they skulk along the walls with their legs bent and tail low. They keep a high alert to any sound, even the fridge, as they thrive to survive in the new setting.


Curled Tails
When you observe your cat’s tail tucked around its body or out of sight, it is correct to take it as an indication of a close-off kitty. You may also see that it is detachedly observing its surroundings with no intention of interacting. Some cats neatly curl their tails when sitting to indicate that they do not want any physical touch. It would help if you approached it with some treats or petting gloves.

Tail Movement

Its autonomous nervous system through the spinal cord controls the movement of a cat’s tail, meaning they are partly in control. Here are some typical movement patterns you can use to your advantage in decoding and in understanding its emotions.


Flicking Tails
Gentle swishes from the cat’s tail are among the most common tail movements you probably have seen. It indicates a relaxed cat, as you can find one swishing its tail when idly asleep or lounging under the sun. Note that if its tip is the only flicking part, it is an indication that the cat is focused on something and extremely alert.


Thrashing Tails
Whipping or thrashing tail movements can either indicate excitement or irritation. If you are petting the cat and see the thrashing tail followed by a faint thumping sound made from the tail’s contact with the floor, consider your session over. The cat uses this movement pattern to signal that something is not right; either your hand is too close to its sensitive parts or mishandled its feet. Pay extra attention when petting her stomach to avoid unknowingly activating the whiskered bear trap of agony.


Wiggling Tails
A rapid wiggling tail in an upright stance is a sign of a happy cat. Chances are it is anticipating something like affection, treats, or you. Be careful not to mistake a thrashing tail for a wiggling tail, as it is a common mistake for pet owners.

Why Do Cats Attack Their Tails?

Cats chasing around their tails is a common sight most of you have observed. What most of us are not familiar with are the reasons behind your cat showing this behavior.

In most scenarios, a cat chases its tail as a form of play, and sometimes the play session may include vicious attacks like biting it. Another reason behind it is inadequate routine and stimulation. If not addressed, it may lead to severe consequences like tail chasing or overgrooming.


Cats are born hunters, and this trait starts to show at a very early age. The instinct to chase begins even before it learns to chase down its prey, and the tail acts as the perfect practice tool. You may observe it making ninja-like skill attempts; remember that practice makes perfect.

Why Does My Cat Slap Me with His Tail?

A gentle slap from your cat’s tail is an indication of affection and love. It is not that different from you petting it and is an accurate indication that he loves you.

Cats try to mimic your affectionate behavior by stroking them and displaying them using their tail slaps. A cattail slap may also be an approach used by your cat to gain your attention.

Do Cats Know Their Tail is Theirs?

Yes, cats know that their tail is theirs since it is an extension of the spine and is controlled by various muscles and nerves. They are very wary of their tails and are very protective of them.