In the previous post we looked at the messages that cat ears can convey. There are a few, yes. But the stronger transmitter of how a cat is feeling is the tail.
I just love my cat, Willy’s, tail. I often comment that he’s got the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz’s tail. It is long and OH so expressive. By the movements of Willy’s tail I can tell if he’s happy, excited, agitated, relaxed, playful or downright angry.
In doing research about “tail talk” the general meaning behind a cat’s tail holds true for Willy.
In the morning Willy greets me with his tail straight up. That means the cat is happy or knowing something good is coming. For Willy, it is a nice long back and belly rub and plenty of cooing from his mama –me.
Willy sleeps on the back of our sofa more than anywhere else in the house. When my husband is watching TV that is where Wilson surely plants himself. When I join my husband and put a throw over my legs, Wilson eyes my lap and his tail has a slight wag. Apparently that is the sign of a cat in the process of making a decision. Lucky I, that decision is usually to leave the perch of the sofa back and melt in my lap.
If he decides against my lap, I don’t let that go lightly. I press him with my voice and by tickling his back end, hoping he’ll change his mind. If I succeed, he stands with his tail is slightly curved –showing increased interest in my lap. I know to drop prodding when his tail starts to twitch – he’s getting agitated. If I don’t stop at that point eventually his tail will start to thump as if to say, “Stop now or I can’t be held responsible for what happens next.”
When it comes to feeding time Willy’s tail is straight up and quivering. That seems to indicate he is especially in love and excited. He loves food and is excited he’s getting some. (Willy is considerably over weight)
If a neighboring cat happens to hop into our patio and press its nose up against our glass window, Willy’s tail goes wild. It gets bristled first, then arches as he crouches down to leap at the glass to get the cat. When he hits the glass, not the cat, he slinks away with his tail between his legs – sign of defeat.
Purina has put together a delightful video of “tail talk”. It is on YouTube and accessible here. I don’t know what came first, this illustration or the video, but these illustrations do show up in the video as tail talk is explained.