Issue 8: May 09

Dear Fancy,

I need help reading my cat's tail language. For instance, when I invite
Kitty (that's actually her name) to join me on the couch, her tail
twitches a bit, but that's about it. Five minutes later, she jumps
on the couch, happy and purring. Interpreter, please!

Learning to speak "cat"

Dear Learning

Cats' tails tell many tales. Here's a summary of what our various tail positions and movements mean:

Straight up or slightly curved forward – content.

Arched forward above our bodies — a happy greeting.

Behind us, with a slight twitch — thinking, deciding, possibly getting annoyed; sometimes the tail twitches as we're preparing for a major pounce.

Behind us, twitching more deliberately, usually in a wider arc — annoyed, frustrated or angry.

Puffed out — threatened, possibly feeling aggressive.

Tucked in near the hind legs — anxious and worried.

The above descriptions are generally for when we're standing or sitting upright. When we're sleeping, the tail could be just about anywhere. When we're dreaming, the tail might twitch because of something exciting happening in the dream.

Caveat: These tale language principles hold true for most cats, most of the time. But you may find the occasional cat who, for example, holds his tail at half-mast even when perfectly content, or uses her tail movements in unique ways to express moods, or perhaps commands to her humans.

Oh, one last thing. The five minute delay after your invitation? That's just to let you know that while Kitty doesn't obey commands, she does respectfully take your request under advisement.




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