Talk To The Tail!



 It’s Monday and I’m Merlin, so it’s Mondays With Merlin. I’m an old cat but I’ve learned a thing or two. With humans they usually grow wiser as they grow older but cats learn our lessons faster. A cat who jumps on a hot stove once never does it again. I should know because that’s what happened to me as a curious young adult. After an emergency trip to the vet and being wrapped in hideous bandages, I learned my lesson. I also learned how to peel off bandages but I never jumped on the stove again. Some things cats know instinctively and immediately from birth, like purring.

We’re simple and complicated at the same time. The main thing I wish humans would learn is how to decipher our “tail talk”. Talk to the tail folks! It tells you everything you need to know about how we’re feeling.  We don’t speak English, Japanese or Swahili.  We may have a 101 ways of saying meow and that’s useful but the tail tells all with each little vertebra.

One thing I taught Layla this year is how an old blind Siamese like me uses his tail differently than when I was younger and sighted. I use my tail for balance by keeping it draped near the ground like a rudder. Instead of the usual happy and confident flagpole tail, my happy tail is happier at half mast. I navigate the first few vertebrae from the tip like an extra pair of eyes or a submarine periscope. I flick it around objects like I use my whiskers to gauge distance.

Truth be told, an old cat does sleep more and there’s less reason for dramatic  anger twitches and tail poofing up, and like old humans, we’re simply less active, tail included. In my case, there are some neurological issues (senility) which also explain the different tail positions.

For more tail talk, check out our other post Hooked on Cat Tails

21 thoughts on “Talk To The Tail!”

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  2. I have always been terrified at the idea of one of our cats jumping on a hot stove. I always try to be around or to cover it when I’m done but it still remains hot. Thankfully they never did that, although I caught Texas on the stove (not hot) more than once :-/
    Hugs to Merlin!
    Texas’ human.

  3. Yes the tail doth tell a tall tale or two boust the feline that duth bearith it high or nigh.
    Luvs and purrs to our dearest sweet friend Merlin. Skeeter and Izzy >^..^<___! that would be our tail at full salute.

  4. Me talks with my tail! Mommy can tell what me is thinking by my tail (and me ears) and me is a old girl. me thinks me sleeps about 22 hours a dat now (least that’s what Mommy says).

  5. Gemini’s tail never went up when she was a kitten. The Woman is wondering if something happened to her or if her fluff was too heavy–she thinks the former, especially now as she has constipation and stuff. Tails are interesting.

  6. Morning Merlin! Thanks for the info. A cat’s tail is always fascinating to me. Austins is gorgeous and thick and long and very expressive indeed 🙂 xx

  7. The human remembers the first time she had Chumley’s hind end shaved (mats) — his tail drooped for a day or two after that, then he adjusted to the breeze and up it went again, to its usual jaunty upright position. 😉

    Our mom watches Nicki’s tail a lot, especially when he’s outside. It’s definitely her gauge as to whether she has to step out and intervene before he redirects any aggression toward Derry, when there’s another cat on the other side of the fence.

    But even when Nicki is getting a head-butting and scritching session, his tail will poof up and often the hair along his spine will stand up, all while he’s purring up a storm, in absolute bliss. So he puffs up not only when agitated/aggressive, but when excited in general. 🙂

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