Why Do Cats Wag Their Tails?: Cat Tail Wagging Explained

cat tail wagging meanings

Has your cat ever repeated a specific movement so many times you think they’re trying to tell you something?

Or are you just genuinely interested in knowing how your pet cat’s feeling today?

Just like humans, cats have incredibly exciting body language as well!

But similar to the complexity of human behavior, it can sometimes be hard to decipher.

It’s tough to tell what your cat’s trying to say just by looking at their body movements.

The most common topic of concern for cat owners is “cat tail wagging.”

Why are they moving their tails like that? What are they trying to say?

Is a cat’s tail wagging good or bad? We’ll talk about everything today!

What Does A Cat Tail Wagging Look Like?

When your cat moves their tail back and forth without changing the plane of movement, you call it tail wagging.

This activity is widespread in dogs, and if you have ever seen one do it, you will quickly recognize it in cats as well.

You will see cats wagging their tails in multiple different positions and times of the day. And each time, it could mean something different.

However, understanding what this tail wagging means and what your pet is trying to tell you is essential.

It helps you develop that special bond with your pet and understand their needs better. This way, you can take care of them in a much better way.

cat tail wagging. cat wagging his tail in air. cat wagging tail while walking.
what cat tail wagging looks like…

Why Do Cats Wag Their Tails? Is It A Good Or Bad Thing?

Even though tail wagging is common among cats and dogs, this movement doesn’t mean the same in both animal species.

While dogs have a more positive emotion associated with tail wagging, cats have an entirely different psychology.

A cat wagging their tail in a “swish” motion is not always happy news.

In general, it means that your pet animal is not pleased to see you, and it’s annoyed by your presence.

The speed, force, and intensity of this wagging movement also tell you a lot. The more intense it becomes, the more frustrated they’re becoming.

Once your pet starts thrashing their tail, it’s time to take a step back! This particular intensity of tail-wagging usually comes with a growl and an incoming attack!

If you don’t listen to the tail, you might get a paw to your face!

However, that’s not always the case.

You must observe the way they’re wagging their tails, the situation they’re in, and the rest of the body posture as well.

Let’s take an in-depth look into it, shall we?

Why Do They Wag Their Tails While Walking?

If you notice your cat walking around with their wagging tail held high, it means they are feeling quite confident and secure in their surroundings.

Confidence and trust can show up in their body language in this way. Notice the way they move around the house and you.

If you see your pet doing this and strutting around confidently, it means today is a good day and that you and other pets are welcomed to interact.

why do cats wag their tails while lying down? cat wagging tail while lying down. cat tail low and wagging
cat wagging tail while lying down meaning?

Why Do They Wag Their Tails Lying Down?

If your cat is lying down and wagging their tail very low, it represents fear.

A frightened cat can adopt this position and stay in it. If you want to figure out the intensity of its fearful emotion, look at the tail’s position. If the pet has tucked it between the legs, their fear is extreme.

Furthermore, notice if they have straightened their tails in the air, pushed their ears back, and arched their spine.

If yes, it means that they are scared but will definitely attack you if you approach them. Thus, make sure you study the cat’s body language thoroughly before approaching them.

Another possible meaning of a cat wagging its tail back and forth in a lying position is that it’s annoying. If the tails are flickering, it’s an obvious sign that your cat is irritated and wants you to leave them alone.

So, what’s the right thing to do when they are wagging their tail this way?

The most common recommendation is to give them their time and space and stay away.

Don’t try to forcefully approach them or touch them because this will lead to even further fear and anxiety.

If you invade their space while they’re telling you not to, they won’t hesitate in attacking and making it clear aggressively!

Why Do They Wag Their Tails While Purring?

Cat tail wagging with slight purring or making sounds indicates a feeling of security, which is always a good sign.

If you see your cat doing this, this is your best chance to come and pet them.

If you’re already petting them and they purr, congratulations! You have made them happy, and they like it!

They won’t mind, and you’ll probably end up cuddling your moody little kitten!

why do cats wag their tails?

Why Do They Wag Their Tails While Sleeping?

Similar to purring, if you see your cat wagging their tail while they’re sleeping, it means that they feel secure.

You can pet the cat if you want, but it’s best to let the kitten have a good rest and not test its patience- we all know how moody these beautiful creatures can be, right?

Also read: Best cat food for sensitive stomach in cats.

Why Do They Wag Their Tails While You’re Petting Them?

If you are moving closer to the cat or petting them, they start thrashing their tail, stop immediately and step back.

Cat tail wagging in this specific situation means that they are telling you to stop. If you don’t, you’ll notice hissing, swatting, scratching, and biting in just a few moments!

However, as mentioned above, if the cat starts to purr and softly wags its tail, you can take that as a sign to keep doing it.

Why Do They Wag Their Tails When You Call Them?

This one is rather funny.

If you call your cat and don’t respond with a sound or don’t come near you, they’ll probably wag their tail in a sleepy flicking motion.

This movement means, “I hear you. But I choose to ignore you.”

If your cat does this, know that they can hear you, and they are acknowledging your call with their tail, but they are telling you they’re not interested in coming to you. Talk about being brutally honest, right?

Why Do They Wag Their Tails While Playing?

Very often, cats can wag their tails shakily. You will notice this movement while they are playing or when they see someone they like and missed.

They will hold their tail upright, and you’ll notice quivering.

If you enter a room and your cat does this, it means they are excited to see you and want to play with you.

Plus, wagging tails back and forth in an exciting manner also means they’re hunting and getting ready to give a surprise attack to their prey.

You will notice that grasping their feet and this posture is most commonly associated with sudden jumping and pounding. The target could be a rat or a cat toy.

However, since cats can be mysterious and notorious sometimes, make sure you take a thorough look at them, their body, and the way they’re moving.

Sometimes, shakily wagging their tail can also mean marking a territory.

If that’s the case, know that they’re not happy and excited to see you. Instead, you better be cautious, trying to approach them.

cat walking in snow with tail high in air. cat with tail high in air. cat tail language. cat tail meanings.

Do All Cats Wag Their Tails?

Yes, all cats wag their tails. While the type of movement might be different, wagging is particularly common in all ages and cats’ breeds.

Cat tail wagging is a tool these mysterious animals use for communication, and even though interpretation can be challenging for some cat owners, it is not tough to learn what they mean. (Look, you just learned so much from this five-minute read, didn’t you?)

Once you understand their movements and body language, you’ll know why your cat is doing it in particular and what they’re trying to communicate to you.

Do All Animals Wag Their Tails?

Cats and dogs are the two most widely popular animal species for their tail wagging. But there are indeed are some other animals who also do the same movement.

Foxes and wolves wag their tails when they are young, but this particular habit goes away as they grow old and fierce.

In adult animals, only cats and dogs show this behavior most commonly.


In summary, cats wag their tails when they’re annoyed, irritated, scared, anxious but also when they’re excited, playful, and happy to see you.

It sounds complex and complicated, doesn’t it? It’s not once you really start to implement your knowledge and common sense.

While cat tail wagging is a straightforward term, it is quite vague.

There are several different kinds of tail wagging movements, and the position of the cat’s position and their environment decide what each of these movements mean.

As you and your pet become more and more accommodated, you start to understand their body language and behavior. Obviously, a guide like this helps make the process much faster.

This way, you can take care of them better and avoid any unnecessary claws to your face!

Also read: Best cat toys for active cats to pick from.

grey kittens playing in bed. best cat blog. blog about cats.

Author: Cathour

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *