Your Pet’s Tail Tells a Tale

Do you know how to decode your pet’s tail twitches? It’s our job as pet owners to recognize when our dog or cat is feeling happy, uncomfortable or scared. Our pets give us numerous signs of their feelings through their body language. They give signals that we can learn to decode with the right information. Catster and the ASPCA give us tips for learning the tale of the tail – or what your pet’s tail movements mean for their mood. If you are unable to read the expression on your cat’s face, always look to their tail; you can learn a lot about your cat’s mood.
Straight Up in the air is a sign of a happy cat. Your cat may be saying, “I’m happy to see you!”

Question Mark is where the tail is straight up in the air but hooked forward at the tip indicates a curious but unsure cat. Give your cat a little encouragement and assure them that the situation is okay.

Tip Twitch is a relaxed tail that starts to twitch back and forth at its tip and is an early sign of over stimulation. Your cat may have had enough with the current situation and is ready to move on.

Flip is when your cat whips their full tail once in a single direction. They may be giving you a little bit of ‘tude. You may see this twitch if you need to scold your cat for bad behavior; it’s a “yeah, whatever” from your cat.

Hug is if you are lucky enough to have a cat tail wrapped around your wrist. Consider it an affectionate hug!

Exclamation Point is a startled vertical tail position and is often accompanied with an arched back and fur standing on end. Your cat may have been caught by surprise by something. A soothing voice and slow petting will help them to calm down.

Hunting Tail is when a cat is stalking prey, whether it’s a mouse or a favorite toy. They will hunker down low to the ground and stretch out their tail behind them, where it may twitch slightly. This cat is full of adrenaline and ready to pounce.



A dog’s tail can, surprisingly, be more complicated to decode. Although a wagging tail does often mean a happy dog, this movement does not always mean your dog is pleased and ready to play. The ASPCA tells us a bit about decoding a dog’s tail, noting that one of the most important things is to know your dog’s resting tail position.
While most dogs have a relaxed tail that hangs low to the ground, certain breeds have a tail that hangs naturally in more intense positions, like a pug’s curly tail or a greyhound’s naturally tucked-under tail. 
Relaxed in its natural position means that your dog is at ease.
Gentle Wag is a tail that wags slowly side to side and indicates a happy dog.
Forceful Wag is when your dog’s tail wags enthusiastically back and forth or even in a circular pattern and it indicates that they are excited to see you!
Low Wag or Tucked is if your dog’s tail is held lower than normal or curled underneath them just between their back legs. This means they are feeling nervous or submissive. The may still wag their tail side to side in a rapid manner, but if the tail is low, this is a nervous wag.
High and Stiff is when your dog is alert. You may see them hold their tail higher than usual in a stiff position without any movement.
Flagging is if your dog is alert with a high tail and starts to “flag,” or rigidly move his tail back and forth. This is a sign that your dog is standing their ground. It may look like a tail wag at first, but the rigid movement actually indicates a more threatening behavior.

Once you learn the way pets talk with their tails, you can learn the best ways to communicate with your pet!