You may have noticed your cat standing at the doorway shaking their tail vigorously. Did you find it alarming? Was it alarming? Why does my cat’s tail shake?
This particular sight may be perplexing if you’re an inexperienced cat owner. Usually, the cat doesn’t seem to be in any other sort of distress. What is the reason for the shaky tail? Sometimes, the cat may seem very relaxed. However, it can also seem anxious at times.
First of all, don’t worry. Some of the behavior is learned, some of it is instinctual, and it’s a little bit of both in most cases. In this article, we’ll look at what to expect, and what you may need to look out for when it comes to your cat’s tail shaking.
As is often true with cats, there are many explanations for this behavior. Let’s take a quick look into the causes of that shaky tail and why this is an action cats may be display.
It is important to note that cats communicate through their body language. Although they may occasionally meow at you, it is much easier to understand their body language and gestures and get a better idea of their mood and intentions.
Cats chase their tails, for example, especially when they’re young. It’s cute but it also tells us a lot about their personality.
A shaking tail can be one of several things. Most of these are not alarming. In most cases, the tail shake is normal. It is important to know the reasons for the tail shake, in case you notice something unusual.
About a Cat’s Tail
Cat’s tails can tell us a lot about what they’re feeling. A low tail could indicate anxiety. The same could apply to a bushy or suddently upright tail. A tail that is high in the air indicates alertness and attentiveness.
When the tail shakes, this is our concern. This should not be confused with wagging or flickering, which could indicate impatience or irritation. The shaking is faster than twitching. It can affect the whole tail, or just the tip.
What are the 2 Types of Shaking?
There are two types to watch out for / look out for if you see quivering or shaking tails.
1. A straight, quivering tail
When your cat’s tail is pointed straight up and quivering, it is most likely just excited and happy to see you. This is most likely to happen at the end or early morning of a long day.
This is a moment to treasure, as it’s pretty reassuring to you to know that your kitty has missed you. More than that, it’s proof that your cat has affection for you, even though it may deny this through other actions later.
The quivering may also be accompanied by the tail folding back over the cat’s back, “sleepy eyes” made at you, and purring. It is common knowledge that this is an instinctive behavior to allow the cat to show us their scent glands as a gesture to trust.
2. Tail Tip Twitching
When your cat is interested in something, the tip of their tail may twitch. This could be a sign that your cat has spotted something for play or prey. It could be that you notice it. Eyes Fixated on a specific thing. This is often associated with tension or excitement.
Four Emotions that are Associated With Tail Shaking
While the reason your cat’s tail is quivering may seem obvious, there are many emotions that can be triggered by this phenomenon. Let’s take a look into what the cat may be feeling beyond the tail, so to speak.
We know that the tip of the tail shaking means high concentration, as they’re looking at something in anticipation of catching or playing with it. This is a sign of anxiety.
This anxiety can also be triggered when there is frustration. If your cat sees a bird from a window, for example, their tail might be twitching because it doesn’t know how to get there.
Another possibility is the sense that something is amiss. It could have heard a noise it is not sure of. If shaking tail is a daily occurrence, it may be worth looking into possible trigger factors.
Constant stress and anxiety are bad for your kitty’s general health. Talk to your vet about the possibility for a calming diffuser of pheromones or other options.
If any pet has a short and unpredictable temper, it’s a cat. Sometimes, your cat might show anger or annoyance by shaking their tail. Twitching and shaking are pretty easily mistaken for one another, so it’s possible that your cat may actually be angry.
If you are happily playing or petting your cat and suddenly seeing its tail vibrating, make sure it’s not because it wants you to stop. Cats can easily become upset by actions they aren’t used to just a second ago.
A vibrating tail is often a sign of more intense tail swishing. You should always be on the lookout for the switch. The best thing is to walk away from that point.
4. Excited Happiness
A shaking tail can be associated with happiness, or positive excitement. This is often seen at feeding time when the cat is anticipating its favorite wet food or cat food.
Cats can also react excitedly to your return. They will recognize you! Some cats even respond in this manner to their favorite cat toys.
The Problem of Spraying Cats
Sometimes, spraying involves cats shaking their tails. Cats spray to mark territory. The shaking and shaking of the tail can be seen as helping activate the scent glands and spread the urine.
What is Spraying?
In simple words, this is normal and natural behavior for cats. Predators use scent and urine to mark territory in wild. This instinct is present in domestic cats as well. They will sometimes stand up against a vertical surface like a wall, door, or sofa and “spray” it with scented urine to mark it.
Doing so will cause the tail to raise, which will make it vibrate or seem to be quivering. This scent is a warning to other cats. This particular hunting or mating spot belongs to someone else.
Domestic cats have additional factors to consider, such as “fake spray.”
Sometimes, a domestic cat doesn’t actually spray, and the tail simply shakes as if “pretending’ to spray. It isn’t clear why this happens.
Fake spraying might indicate that the cat feels stressed or uncomfortable in its territory. This could be caused usually by an unwelcome intruder (usually a neighboring pet or animal). You can help your cat feel secure and protected if you suspect that they are feeling threatened.
For example, some cats aren’t appropriately taught how to spray by a parent figure. This could be a case of instinctive behavior that makes the cat do what it wants, but not knowing how to properly do it. This is known as phantom spraying.
Phantom spraying might serve its own purpose. A cat might see another cat spraying and it could be enough to deter conflict. Kittens might also learn from older cats who do this behavior. For example, young kittens whose mother cats do it will likely perform the same behavior – even fake spray – as they grow.
Cats may spray on other cats if they are fighting. This behavior is called dominance and will be accompanied with tail quivering. However, it can also include anger and anxiety.
A cat will rarely spray on a person or another cat passively. If it does happen, it’s most likely because you are a standing vertical surface that happens to be there.
House Cats Don’t Necessarily Spray
Many house cats do not need to mark territory. They feel more secure in their own homes. If your cat doesn’t spray, it may not cause your cat’s tail to quiver. Particularly neutered cats are less likely to display predatory behavior.
Other stress factors can trigger spraying behavior. For example, if you move house, the brand new environment may need “marking,” as your cat can no longer smell itself on anything.
Interesting Facts About Your Cat’s Tail
Since we’re talking about a cat’s tail, let’s consider a few interesting facts about your cat’s anatomy.
- Tails have bones. Depending on the breed, cats can have anywhere from 19 to 23 vertebrae in their tails. The tail is also composed of a remarkable structure of muscles and ligaments that makes it dexterous and flexible.
- As you can see, cats use their tails to communicate. You could learn to read a cat’s mood by understanding its tail position. Twitchy means annoyed, high is happy, and vice versa.
- A note about a cat who holds its tail up high. Experts know that domestic cats are usually the only ones that keep their tails up. This is thought to indicate comfort and openness to interaction. If a cat is walking around with its tail raised, it is usually in a happy and comfortable mood. Maybe. But for now.
- Cats use the tail to balance. When you see a cat do an impressive walk along a narrow fence or high surface — like a gymnast — it is using its tail to maintain that perfect balance. It can also be used for jumping, such as to correct a landing. Cheetahs may use their tails while running. A domestic cat can use it as a counterweight when turning too.
- A cat can suffer from severe consequences if it injures its tail. Even though it doesn’t directly affect the spinal cord, it can affect balance and movement. A cat’s tail is so integral to its basic movement and structure, that it is truly a shame when it is damaged. Do not pull a cat’s tail, as it may cause injury.
- When your cat walks up to you and wraps his tail around your leg as if it is saying hello, You may also be smelt by your cat. Generally, it’s a good thing. They may do the exact same thing with other cats in the house for the same reasons.
- However, a cat can live without its tail. It may not live a happy life, and it may experience some discomfort or pain, as well as loss of mobility.
- Trivia:17.58 inches is the longest domestic cat tail ever recorded. The tail belonged to a Maine Coon, a large domestic breed.
Final Thoughts: Why Does My Cats Tail Shake
As you now know, there are plenty of reasons why your cat’s tail might shake or quiver. However, it’s important to know the difference between your cat’s different tail motions. Is it excitedly quivering or twitching?
If it’s standing next to a vertical surface, might it be spraying? Is it just doing this every time it gets fed? Keep a keen eye on when the tail is moving — and how. Hopefully, you’ll realize there’s nothing to worry about.
If you feel the behavior is troubling, consult your vet to discuss the best way to deal with it. Most of all, enjoy your cat’s company!
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