Tail Expressions

graphic by Ali Noel Vyain

Tail expressions tend to be overlooked by many humans. But our tails can communicate in ways our meows can’t. For example, when a cat carries their tail upright, it means they are happy. I know I walk around with my tail upright often. I’m quiet, but I’m still quite content.

If the tail is down low, such as lying straight on the cat’s back, it means the cat is nervous. Nuri used to walk like that when she first went to live with my girl. After Nuri learned how safe her new home was and how good my girl is, Nuri was able to relax. Now she walks around with her tail upright.

A fluffed out tail is a warning. It’s what we do to appear larger to scare off what is frightening us. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it’s all in play. Sometimes Nuri’s tail fluffs out and then she relaxes once she realizes there’s nothing to be afraid of. It was probably all the time she had live outside on her own. Every little sound could spell danger out there.

And now I come to Spot and his very expressive tail. Some humans make the mistake that he was angry when he waves his tail around. He isn’t. He usually is very happy go lucky. In fact, my girl used to recite my name and others we knew to him. Spot would respond not with a meow but with his tail beating faster. It was his way of saying how much he loved us all.

So, pay attention humans. We do use our tails as a means of communication.

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