Why do cats flick their tails?

+67 votes
asked Jul 8, 2015 in Pets & Animals by LashawnMcCar (280 points)
My roommate has a cat, and I’ve never really had much experience with them. We seem to get along, but you know how cats are. I’m never entirely sure he likes me. He lets me pet him a lot though, but I’ve noticed that he’ll flick his tail almost as if he’s agitated. I just don’t know what it means! Why do cats flick their tails?

4 Answers

+17 votes
answered Oct 28, 2015 by GabrielLyleb (390 points)
When your cat swishes or flicks their tail pretty lazily, this means they are excited. If their tail is waving around smoothly, then they are definitely feeling playful. Sometimes they will swish their whole tail, but it can be focused at the tip as well. It’s important to note though that a playful cat can easily turn into an agitated cat, and both of these moods can be characterized by a flicking tail. So if you’re playing with a cat that suddenly starts stiffly flicking their tail, then they might be letting you know they’re done playing and now ready to attack soon. To help distinguish this though, there are other physical signs that a cat is trying to be playful, such as eye contact and forward-facing ears.
commented Oct 29, 2015 by UlyssesNicol (160 points)
I became more confusing after reading your answer of why do cats flick their tails
O_o. So they wanna play or attack?
+7 votes
answered Aug 13, 2015 by IsabelleW529 (290 points)
If your cat is flicking their tail in an idle or noncommittal way, then something might have potentially caught their interest. At this point they are trying to figure out just how interesting this new thing is. If they get excited about this, then their tail flicking will most likely change and reflect this. They can continue this motion for a while if they are at rest and content, even when sleeping sometimes.
+4 votes
answered Jul 31, 2015 by LionelGoode0 (250 points)
Yeah, so why do cats flick their tails… See, cats flick their tails while being petted as an early sign that they are getting over stimulated and might want you to back off. This is especially the case if you notice that they are just twitching the very tip of their tail. It’s probably a good idea to back off before they get even more agitated and spike or run off.
+2 votes
answered Aug 29, 2015 by RudolfShinn7 (520 points)
Sometimes cats react in what seems like very odd ways when they are being aggressive. Cats flick their tails very vigorously when they are on the offensive or feel threatened. This aggressive tail wag will start at the tail’s base, and the hairs might become puffed up. Other indicators that they are in attack mode are things like narrow pupils, back-turned ears, and hissing. If you’re the target of the cat’s aggressive mood then be cautious until the agitation has passed. They might strike at you or dash out of the room very unpredictably.
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