“Why does my cat hit me with her tail?” you’re thinking to yourself as your mischievous munchkin’s making her way around your apartment trying to scout every nook and cranny. You never thought this would be the way you’d spend your Saturday nights, but here you are.
You’re observing your newest addition to the family as she attempts to get acquainted with the couch by meowing, purring, and ever-so-slightly hitting the bottom with her paws. She can’t get to the top (not that she hasn’t tried!) So, she’s pretty satisfied ruining the parts that nobody else can catch a glimpse of.
She’s happy on her own – running through every room of the apartment, knocking down glasses and other fragile valuables she can get her paws on, and scouring through the leftover dinner. But, every now and then she perks her ears up, throws a glance at you, and hits you with her tail.
“Why does she do that!?” you can’t help but overthink and overanalyze. “Does it mean she’s angry with me? Or that she wants to play with me? She doesn’t look annoyed, but she doesn’t necessarily show her emotions openly enough for me to judge… Argh!”
Listen, nobody ever claimed that being a pet parent was an easy task. There are many things you need to learn, discover, and understand. But, the most important seems to always be that you keep on trying. And that’s what you’re doing now searching online for “Why does my cat hit me with her tail?”
Worry not, we’ve gathered every bit of information you might need to finally understand what your boisterous beast’s been trying to tell you for days.
Understanding the TAIL language
Trust me, your curious creature’s not the only one exhibiting strange behavior at all times. Cats absolutely adore keeping their humans on their toes, pulling on their strings, and keeping them at the edge of their seats – that’s what happy and healthy cats are supposed to do.
Sure, you might be thinking to yourself “Why does my cat hit me with her tail? Does she do that because she likes me or because she wants nothing to do with me?” But you’re forgetting about something very, very telling about your munchkin. She does these things regardless of whether you’re there or not.
You might have missed these occurrences because you were way too busy watching the reruns of Friends. But while you were glued to the screen, Mrs. McFluffer was puffing up her tail at the sight of the mailman (only to shape her tail into a question mark afterward!)
And let’s be honest here. Cats don’t really have much choice when they’re trying to express how they’re feeling. Making use of their tails to let you know whether they’re happy, angry, hungry, or even hangry seems to be the best way to go.
So, take a look at some of the ways to recognize and decipher your cat’s “tattle tail” gestures.
1. A wagging tail
“Umm, cats don’t wag their tails! That’s what dogs do!” While that’s true, there are certain gestures cats do that can be described as wagging. Moving their tails from side to side, quickly or slowly, seems to be their way of focusing on something that’s caught their attention.
When your feline friend starts wagging her tail, there’s no need to give your vet a quick call and hit him with “I think my cat’s lost her mind! She’s acting like a dog!” Instead, check whether she’s looking at a butterfly, spider, or some other crawling creature she might be trying to catch and munch on.
But, we can’t forget about the obvious myth that’s been bestowed upon you by the (very wrong) dog parents. Cats don’t wag their tails because they’re happy! That’s not to say that they aren’t happy when they’re wagging their tails. But, there’s a different reason they’re making that gesture.
Trust me, when your furry friend’s moving her tail from side to side, she isn’t telling you (or anyone else) “Yaaay, I can’t wait to go for walkies!” She’s focusing on something. And you better move out of her way before she scratches your eyes out, because you’re ruining her secret mission with your questions.
2. A thumping tail
“Why does my cat hit me with her tail?” goes hand in hand with “Why does my cat thump her tail before she starts hitting me with it!?” Oh boy, when you notice your four-legged friend thumping her tail on the ground, you better run because you’ve done something to get on her last nerve.
Such gestures suggest your cat’s overwhelmed, angry, and/or agitated. Maybe you’ve had some guests over that have been pushing her buttons (chasing after her, touching her without her consent, or making loud noises around her). Or perhaps you’ve been the one petting her for a while and she’s starting to get over it.
Either way, the moment you notice your furry friend thumping her tail, stop doing whatever you were doing and remove yourself from the situation. Trust me, the thumping gesture is a warning that she’s planning on scratching, biting, hissing, or swatting at whoever ends up being the last straw.
3. A wrapping tail
“Why does my cat keep wrapping her tail around me!?” sounds like something you would never ask because most pet parents know that this gesture is a sign of love. That’s right, when your furry friend wraps her tail around you, that means she feels safe, loved, and appreciated.
Let’s be honest here. Cats don’t have the best rep when it comes to showing love and affection.
Your kitto’s more likely to scratch you the second she feels like you’ve gone overboard with petting and kissing. Or if it feels like you’re deliberately annoying her. Even the moment that she feels like you’re not doing exactly what she wants you to do.
But that sounds like something dog people want you to believe. All you remember are the loving moments you’ve shared with your furry feline.
Wrapping her tail around your leg is only one of them – and you absolutely love it whenever she does that because you know that’s her way of telling you “I love you.” A very “I might start scratching you and biting you any moment, but for now, I’m enjoying your presence” declaration of love, but a declaration of love, nonetheless.
4. A straight-up tail
“Hmm, why does my cat hit me with her tail whenever she’s playing with me? She ALWAYS puts her tail in a very specific position, straight-up and quivering, and proceeds to slap my face. Why, why, why?” You could write a mystery novel based on your four-legged companion’s odd behavior, couldn’t you?
Would you feel better knowing that most cats do this exact same thing? And that keeping their tails straight up before hitting you (or anyone else) can mean one of two things?
Firstly, if you have a male cat, he’s likely marking his territory, which would explain the quivering, peeing, and slapping.
On the other hand, your cat might be excited to see you (or whoever’s standing behind you). She’s keeping her tail up and high because she’s trying to show you that she trusts you and she’s happy that you’re there (a low tail typically means she feels threatened).
5. A puffed-up tail
Oh boy, you don’t want to stand anywhere near your cat when she’s got a puffed-up tail! And, you definitely don’t want your cat to hit you with her puffed-up tail – that would suggest double-trouble for both you and her.
You see, the puffing up of the tail typically happens when your furry friend feels threatened, terrified of something, or even ready to attack. You know how your hair stands on end when watching a horror movie? That’s exactly how your cat feels when she’s got the hair on her tail standing on end, too!
Word of advice – DO NOT play with your cat when you notice she’s got a puffed-up tail. You can try to calm her down (on the off chance that you weren’t the one who upset her). But, you’re better off getting out of her way for the time being. DO NOT pet her because she will claw your eyes out!
Why does your cat hit you with her tail?
These gestures (wagging, thumping tail, puffing up…) might seem pretty straightforward to most pet parents. More times than not, their precious pets make these gestures to show whether they’re happy or sad, hungry or thirsty, calm or alarmed.
“But why does my cat hit me with her tail? Everything else sounds pretty perfect when you explain the meaning behind it, but hitting me with her tail sounds… personal. Does my cat hate me!?” Worry not, your curious creature doesn’t have a personal vendetta against you.
With that out of the way, your cat hitting you with her tail can actually have different connotations. Her behavior depends on what she was doing before she hit you, what you were doing to provoke her actions, and even what everyone around you was doing the moment that she decided to hit you.
“But, but, but… How can I know for sure?” We’ve gathered several reasons your cat might be hitting you with her tail. Take a look and decide for yourself whether she’s doing so to show love or because she’s plotting to wipe you off the face of the earth.
1. She loves you
Let’s start off with an obvious one (or maybe not!?) When your furry friend hits you with her tail, she’s more than likely showing you her love and affection.
“Wait, what!? You’re meaning to tell me she’s not trying to make me feel like the worst pet parent EVER?”
That’s right, and based on your reaction, you’ve probably been personally victimized by your cat on more than one occasion. And that’s completely normal – cats have a weird way of showing their emotions, granted that they’re showing them at all.
They meow and purr at you to give them cuddles and kisses. But, when you do, they look at you like you’ve single-handedly murdered their entire family. They rub their cute little faces against your chest and purr their little hearts out, but when you try to do the same, they threaten to claw your eyes out.
So, you shouldn’t be surprised when your cat starts hitting you with her tail as a sign that she loves you. Sure, she’s a little weird – but, she’s got the spirit.
2. She’s curious
“Hmm, why does my cat hit me with her tail whenever we come back from the store? Or whenever we’re AT the store? Come to think, or whenever we’re doing pretty much anything related to the store?”
Cats are curious creatures, aren’t they? They love to investigate everything that’s around them – pushing things around with their paws, sniffing and licking things that are within their reach, and (apparently) hitting things with their tails.
When your little helper’s hitting you with her tail whenever the two of you finish doing something fun (like going to the store), chances are she’s simply exhibiting her curiosity. She’s showing you that she wants to check what’s in the bags, help you unpack the groceries, or even give some of them a little lick of love.
She doesn’t want you to shoo her away, so she’s resorting to hitting you with her tail as her way of saying “Hey, I’m right here and I would LOVE to help!”
She’s more than likely going to be pretty gutted when you tell her she can’t stay and munch on the groceries. So, make sure to give her a little kiss before you send her off.
3. She’s scared
That’s right, we’re going in a completely different direction. “How’s that possible, how can one gesture have such opposite meanings!?” Depending on the circumstances, your cat’s demeanor, and everything else that might affect the way your cat reacts – hitting you with her tail might mean that she’s scared.
The two of you might have walked into a dark room and she’s feeling threatened because she doesn’t know what’s behind the darkness. Or you might have witnessed an argument between other cats chasing each other around your backyard. Or you may have even accidentally run into each other and scared each other to death.
Depending on the scenario, your cat might be hitting you with her tail or wrapping her tail around your legs because she’s looking for a sense of safety.
Word of advice: When you have a good reason to believe your cat’s scared, don’t pick her up or try to comfort her the way you would a child. Let her be, or she’ll backfire.
4. She’s angry
Sounds pretty reasonable to assume that your cat is hitting you with her tail because she’s upset with you. Newsflash, you’re not going crazy and she actually might have a bone to pick with you (maybe because you haven’t given her that chicken bone!?)
Cats don’t really have much going for them with regard to expressing emotions (especially anger) towards their humans.
They can’t scream and shout, and they certainly can’t throw a plate at you. But, they can push things off of your shelves, wake you up in the middle of the night, and yes, hit you with their tail.
So, whenever your cat hits you with her tail again (and she will hit you again), you might want to apologize with a Fancy Feast or Meow Mix.
5. She wants your attention
And, there’s nothing more adorable than a pet that’s looking for your attention. Whether she’s reminding you of the time of the day when you typically go outside and chase each other around the garden or whether she’s jogging your memory that you promised to take her to the pet store.
There’s a pawsibility she’s hitting you with her tail because she wants to meow “All eyes on me, mister!” As a matter of fact, she’s pretty likely to do the same thing when she wants to show you something she’s discovered (typically a mouse she hunted down or your neighbor’s kittens!)
6. She’s claiming her territory
Umm, how do we put this…? Your cat may be hitting you with her tail because she’s trying to leave her scent on your clothes – to mark her territory so other cats know they shouldn’t come anywhere near you?
That’s right, your cat’s pretty much like that one crazy ex you’ve been avoiding for years. And contrary to popular belief, male cats aren’t the only ones marking their territory.
Sure, male cats love to pee on pretty much everything within their reach. But, every single cat loves to leave her scent on the thing that she doesn’t want anyone else touching. And this time, she doesn’t want anyone touching you. Cute!
7. She’s trying to get you out of her way
Yeah, this one might not be your cup of tea! Nobody wants to hear that their precious pet’s getting fed up with them. But, we can’t forget that these things happen more often than we’d like to admit.
Sure, you would love for Ms. McFluffer to spend every second of every waking hour with you. Chasing each other around the apartment, cuddling, watching your favorite movie (Aristocats, of course), and munching on snacks. But… there are times when she needs to take care of her own business.
And, it’s in these times that she needs you to get out of her way. She might swiftly move past you, give you a little flick of the tail as to say “Don’t you dare put anything in my path!” and leave.
8. She’s overwhelmed
Whether you’re having some friends over for a Sunday barbecue or babysitting your neighbor’s kittens, your cat might be hitting you with her tail because she’s overwhelmed. She’s trying to get your attention and meow at you hoping you’d understand “Get them out of my face!”
With that out of the way, we can’t forget to underline that you shouldn’t force your precious pet to socialize when she doesn’t want to.
Don’t get me wrong, some cats are very patient and loving, and they don’t have a problem with entertaining crowds. But, some cats do – and you don’t want them leaving a gash on your (or your guest’s) arm because you didn’t take the hint.
9. She’s playing with you
“Why does my cat hit me with her tail? Does that mean that she doesn’t want to hang out with me?” No, silly! That means the opposite of that – she’s using her secret tail language to tell you that she’s ready for that playdate with you!
Take a look at her. She should look like she’s super happy, energetic, and ready to take on the world as soon as you hand her the toy (you know exactly which toy she’s looking for, don’t you?) She’s hitting you with her tail and thinking “Come on, what’s stopping us from playing RIGHT NOW!?”
10. She’s signaling that she wants to eat
Last but not least, your cat’s hitting you with her tail because she’s hungry. We’ve already learned that cats use their tails to get your attention – now you have to figure out which gesture means what. How do you know she’s hungry? How do you know she’s looking for a snack?
Worry not, cats are pretty easy to read when they’re hungry. They start roaming around the kitchen hoping to stumble across a crumb or two (“Why does she clean everything!?”) They sniff every nook and cranny, and meow at you like they haven’t eaten anything all day.
And, they start hitting you with their tail to get your attention. They’re thinking “Oh god, she must’ve forgotten to feed me! Let me refresh her memory!” That’s right, Mrs. McFluffer has her way of telling you exactly what she needs you to hear. And, we’re hoping we helped you figure out what that means.