Cat Behavior 101,  Man Cat Mondays,  Mondays With Merlin

Talk To The Tail!

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



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


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