Why Do Cats Always Lift Their Tails Up?

"This is mine. That is mine. I was there."
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Generally an upright tail means you have one happy cat. He's feeling comfortable in his space, is fully capable of running around and putting his scent on everything and is showing you a greeting. Although a straight-up tail is often a good sign, watch for other cues that may warn you he is angry.


When Felix gallops across your living room floor with his tail proudly held high, he's truly happy. It's his way of letting you know he's perfectly comfortable in his estate. He's also signalling an invite for a petting session. Reach down, scratch his chin and rub his lower back above his tail. He'll arch his back, purr like a lion and let you know that you're all he needs in life to be happy.

Marking Turf

Felines have scent glands at the base of their tails. When Felix puts his rear end towards the wall, lifts his tail up high and twitches his tail, he's releasing some of his signature perfume on that wall. You might not be able to smell it, but if any other kitties come around, they'll know that Felix was there first. He'll probably do this every time he enters the room and may even rub his hind quarters against your legs. That way when you leave the house, the neighborhood felines will know that you already belong to another cat.


Watch Felix and Max when they greet each other first thing in the morning. They'll read each other's body language, stick their tails up towards the sky and sniff one another -- even sniff each other's rear. When Felix parades proudly into the kitchen with his tail held high, he's allowing you to offer him the same greeting. He's sort of stating "go ahead and sniff me!"

Time To Eat

Have you ever noticed that Felix acts a little weird when his bowl is empty? He can't talk to you so he has to show you when feeding time comes around. As soon as you get up, he'll stand right at your feet meowing, staring up at you and point his tail towards the ceiling. Those are his cues that you must stop everything you're doing and fill his dish with his morning entree.

Other Considerations

Even though an upright tail often means your furry family member is perfectly content, watch for a few signs that might let you know he's agitated. If his tail is up and puffy, he's scared of something. He might have been startled by a door slamming downstairs or maybe he saw a dog walk by outside. A fluffed-up tail indicates that he's ready to attack if need be, so it might not be the best time to pick him up. If he flicks his tail from side to side or sticks it straight out, he's a little nervous and you should leave him alone.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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