Cat Behavior 101,  Cats,  Odin

Hooked On Cat Tails

If you love cats, sharing makes us purrrr :-)

Since I study and photograph cats every day, I thought I’d begin sharing their unique ways of communicating via photos of their body language. These will be posted under the Cat Behavior 101 category for future reference. In the case of cats, a photograph can often tell more than a thousand words. I generally subscribe to most cat behaviorist’s opinions but not always. Cats are far more nuanced and expressive than we give them credit for. There is room for further research and dialogue. Please feel free to voice your opinion.

A calico (below) lives on a farm near me where I buy vegetables from. She very friendly and her straight up tail with a hook signals the classic friendly but alert position. The hook is more sideways like a question mark and in her case, I’d label it inquisitive or inquiring.


By contrast, another straight up and hooked tail shown here by Odin this week, has less curve in the hook showing a friendly tail but more uncertain.


Odin managed to climb onto the porch roof and couldn’t get down. I rushed inside to open the window and he meekly came inside. Guilty as charged. This is a familiar pose for Odin outdoors when he’s not full on-confident. He’s naturally confident and his normal friendly greeting is a straight up tail with no hook. However, you could have two cats showing the same tail position but depending on the what the ears, whiskers, eyes, mouth and back are doing, it will influence the interpretation. What is your cat’s friendly tail greeting?


  • Milo and Alfie

    Our little Alfie walks around with his tail in a dead straight upright all the time ~ unless there are strangers about. Yet he is a nervous little kit. He was born feral and lived in a field until rescued at 8 weeks (by Cats Protection UK) and then re-homed with us at 12 weeks ~ and mom thinks that’s why he is a scaredy cat. Perhaps he is just brave around us ‘cos he knows we love him so much.
    He also (((quivers))) his tail a lot around mom.

    Milo xx

  • Lucy the Cat

    I love seeing the cats’ tail straight up. Sometimes, the tail is down meaning someone is disgruntled, usually with another kitty. The calico sure is a pretty girl. I love Odin’s hook. I never thought how that could mean that they aren’t feeling completely confident. He looks so cute through the window like that.

  • Oui Oui

    I think that’s a great idea, posting pix and interpretations. I’m looking forward to more photos! My personal favorite is the question mark tail with the greeting chirp. When I come home, Oui Oui has a totally different greeting. Quietly sitting on the stairs with her tail wrapped around her front paws, she is all attention and patience, waiting until she has MY undivided attention. Its one example of her being 1 step ahead of me and willing to wait for me to catch up!

  • Katnip Lounge

    Friendly at our house is tail at 12 o’clock and stick straight, with the exception of The Baby, who arcs hers over her back, and Kona’s, which doesn’t straighten out fully. Felix adds a little quiver and poof at the base if he’s especially pleased about something.

  • Marg

    We have all kinds of expressions with our tails. When we are happy, out tails go straight up. Sometimes we have the question mark. Just depends on what is going on. Great subject. Take care.

  • Marg

    We have all kinds of expressions with our tails. When we are happy, out tails go straight up. Sometimes we have the question mark. Just depends on what is going on. Great subject. Take care.

  • CATachresis

    I love it when Austin sees me and his very long tail shoots up in welcome. I must admit to not discerning anything else with the questionmark tail thus far! His bushy tail seems totally to be reaction to an unfriendly feline in his garden. the flailing tail is showing agitation the “you try that one more time” threat!

    You are right, there are many nuances we have yet to learn.

    BTW Layla, are you missing a picture of Odin above? Or is it me?

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