Your cat’s tail serves many functions aside from tickling your nose when she walks across your computer keyboard as you try to work or blocking the view as you attempt to read texts on your phone. One important function is that the tail contributes to the cat’s sense of balance. It serves as a natural counterweight for those abrupt turns during high speeds and also keeps the cat balanced when walking on narrow branches or walkways.
The cat’s tail is also quite an effective communication device. The tail’s position or movement are mood indicators and if you pay attention, you can gain insight about what your cat is feeling. The position of the tail is also used to communicate to other cats. Of course, when it comes to interpreting your cat’s mood, you can’t rely exclusively on the tail without taking other body signals and the immediate environment into account, but the tail is extremely expressive and offers many clues.
A cat who walks with her tail in an upright position is typically displaying a feeling of confidence and comfort in her surroundings. It’s almost as if the tail is a flag in the air indicting a willingness to be noticed and to engage in social interaction. If your cat is walking toward you and you notice she also gives a little flick with the tip of her upright tail, consider that a friendly greeting. Make sure you don’t pass her by without offering some attention, affection or a little playtime.
The Question Mark
An upright tail that has a little hook or curve at the top is an even stronger indication of a desire to interact as the cat approaches. She may also give a slight flick of the tail.
The Spray Quiver
When a cat is about to spray-mark, she will back up to an object and her upright tail will begin to quiver. Her body posture will also include treading with her front paws. Cats who are spray-marking will also usually close their eyes or have them half-closed. And yes, female cats do spray, in case you were wondering.