What Does It Mean when a Cat's Tail Fluffs Up at the Base?

A cat's tail is part of the way she communicates.
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Your kitty's tail is an excellent communicator of her mood. Whether she’s swishing it, twitching it, or carrying it artfully curved or completely erect, each position and action signals something. The fluffed-up tail can communicate various messages, and it's a good idea to learn to interpret them.


Look at your little fur girl’s tail position. A lowered and fluffy tail is telling you, and other cats, “I’m afraid.” She has just detected something that she doesn’t like and it scares her. She may be looking directly at the source of her fear, and her back legs may be slightly crouched. Allow her to get away from what’s scaring her so she can get back to being her usual brave and perky cat-self.

Pending Cat Fight

A cat whose tail is arched and bristled is about to attack someone. If that someone is another cat, get the spray bottle out and get ready to aim some water at the cats before a brawl erupts. If the potential target of an attack is a human being, tell him right away to stop what he’s doing and leave the area, unless he wants to be the recipient of cat bites and scratches, because any further provocation will result in an attack.

Aggressive Tail

When your furry feline holds her tail straight in the air, fully fluffed out, she’s telling you that she’s getting aggressive, so you’d better back down. She wants you to see her aggressive mood, and that’s why she is holding her tail straight up. If you, another human, or another cat have pushed her buttons, she’s saying, “Hey, , back down. I’m not liking what you’re doing, so stop.” If the target doesn't respond appropriately to her body language, she’s going to tip over to the “provoked" side and act.

“Big Tail”

This one is a little different from the aggressive stance. You’re justified if you get a little confused, because the postures look similar but the meaning is opposite. The difference between the aggressive stance and the “Big Tail” stance is that your little girl is actually happy when she displays the latter. She’s playing and chasing around -- and her tail is big, round and fully erect. The best way to figure out where your little girl is emotionally is to look at her posture. If it’s relaxed, she’s not about to spring at you, claws aimed at your eyes, so you can relax and allow her to go on her merry way.

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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