cat swishing tail when lying down
Questions About Cats

Why Do Cats Wag Their Tails While Lying Down?

Cats have a reputation as being imperceptible, but they can be understood. A cat’s tail, for example, can reveal how your pet is feeling. Tail movement while lying down can be particularly revealing body language in cats.

Often, the cat is acknowledging a human or other pet without getting up. This behavior can also denote excitement. If your cat is staring out the window, she is imagining pouncing on birds. The tail wagging is an imitation of the birds and an attempt to gain their attention.

Occasionally, this wag is an involuntary display of pain. Check for other symptoms of discomfort, such as an arched back or uncharacteristic aggression. Usually, a cat slowly wagging her tail while lying down has a wholesome explanation.

Do Cats Wag Their Tails?

Cats are not commonly associated with tail-wagging behavior. Ignoring this body part is a mistake. Watching a cat’s tail provides insight into her mood. This table summarizes the different meanings:

Tail ActionMeaning
Swishing wildly from left to rightBack off – the cat is in a bad mood
Gentle swaying from left to rightCome on over – the cat welcomes interaction
Twitching at the tipHigh levels of excitement or stimulation
Swishing on the groundThe cat is about to pounce
Thumping on the floorStop what you’re doing, your cat is overstimulated

When a cat wags her tail while lying down, it’s a little different. The cat must be relaxed to assume such a position. All the same, the tail response should be reviewed.

My Cat Wags Her Tail While Lying Down

There is a wide range of possible explanations for this action:

  • Saying hello
  • Enjoying petting or grooming
  • Inviting you – or another pet – to play
  • Concentrating intently
  • Pain

These readings have drastically different meanings. You must identify why a cat wags her tail. Pairing the action with another body language will help you achieve this.

Is My Cat Saying Hello?

A popular feline greeting is an erect tail, gently wagged from side to side.

If this is the case, why does your cat not get up to greet you? She may be busy. Cats do not see humans as masters to serve. Your pet will approach for physical interaction when she desires it. Right now, she has something else to get on with.

The fact that your cat remains lying down is a compliment. It suggests that your pet has a secure attachment to you. Cell explains this in more detail.

Speak to your cat when she wags her tail at you while lying down. Just saying, “hello” makes a cat happy. As Animal Cognition explains, felines recognize and enjoy the sound of their owner’s voices.

The cat will eventually deem you worthy of approaching. Let her make the decision as to when this will be. Your cat is lying down for a reason. She will not find interruption to her activity endearing.

Is My Cat Expressing Contentment?

A lying cat will often wag her tail while being petted. You must pay attention to this as your pet is sending a message. It’s easy to mistake frustration for happiness.

The first thing to consider is where you are petting your cat. As explained by Anthrozoös, cats respond to petting on different body parts. Your cat could go from purring to growling.

If your cat lifts her rear and swishes her tail gently, she is happy. This is your cat asking for more petting. Don’t stop until she says so. You are bonding with through petting and affection.

The moment the tail wagging speeds up, proceed with caution. This is a sign that your cat is growing frustrated. The petting may be painful. It’s worth noting that purring is not always a pleasure sound. Some cats purr when agitated or sore.

There is a time limit on how long cats find petting enjoyable. Your cat will bite or scratch if you stroke her for too long. By watching her tail, you can avoid this outcome. Cats are not as unpredictable as some people claim.

cat wagging tip of tail

Does My Cat Want to Play?

Wagging a tail in happiness is a trait associated with dogs. Cats sometimes engage in this behavior too. It’s prominent in play.

Often, a wagging tail while lying down is a precursor to pouncing. This is especially common in kittens. Young cats are cautious about overstepping their boundaries. By wagging their tail, they announce their intentions. They won’t be told off for jumping on a sibling.

The wag may also be a display of excitement mid-play. Acknowledge this. It suggests that your cat still has energy. If you stop the game, this may be misdirected as aggression.

Is My Cat Concentrating on a Hunt?

A cat may be wagging her tail because she is concentrating on a hunt. Lying down precedes a pounce. The cat is making herself small and inconspicuous to avoid detection.

Cats also wave their tails to mesmerize prey. It buys the cat precious seconds to attack. Some cats swish their tails along the ground instead.

If the tail movement is followed by any of the following, it’s hunting-related:

  • Wriggling of the bottom
  • Clicking of the mouth
  • Shifting weight between back legs

These behaviors are a warning. If you see your cat lying down and behaving this way, distract her. Tossing a toy is best. If you fail to do so, the cat will ‘hunt’ your toes or ankles.

Many cats lie down by a window and watch birds outside. This will lead to a twitching tail, as your cat imagines pouncing. She may also be imitating her prey. Cats making cooing sounds similar to birds. She may attempt a physical impersonation of a bird’s quivering tail feathers.

This excitement can quickly turn to frustration. Do not approach your cat while she is agitated. You may instinctively be scratched. Let your cat cool off before interacting. If she grows more agitated, close the curtains to obscure her view.

Is My Cat in Pain?

Cats hide physical pain. Your pet does not want anybody knowing she is hurt. Cats consider a display of pain to show weakness. It leaves them open to attack from territorial rivals or predators.

Sometimes, a cat in pain will shoot her tail upward and shake it. This is an involuntary, reflex action. If your cat notices that she is doing this, she’ll stop. It’s a subtle action that can be missed.

Check that your cat is not injured. There is a slim chance that she wants to walk toward you but cannot. She may have hurt or strained a limb. You’ll know if this is the case. Your cat will reject any attempt at handling.

This tail movement can also denote excitement. Do not automatically gear the worst. Look out for another warning sign that your cat is in pain. These include:

  • Lethargy and depression
  • Walking with an arched back
  • Struggling to sleep
  • Refusing to be handled
  • Acting aggressively toward humans and other pets
  • Loss of appetite

There are a number of reasons why a cat could be in pain. She may have experienced a one-off impact injury. She may be in dental discomfort. She could even have a serious medical concern. Professional tests are the only way to be sure. Make an appointment with a vet.

Why Do Cats Thump Their Tails When Lying Down?

If your cat thumps her tail, it is as a warning. It usually means that she is reaching a saturation point with an activity. This is most often related to petting and grooming.

It’s also possible that you are petting in the wrong place. All cats have different sensitivities and pressure points. No cats enjoy being touched on the belly or feet. Get too close, and your pet will warn you to stop.

Your cat thumps her tail to inform you of her unhappiness. She expects you to understand. If you continue petting, she will assume you are ignoring her cues. This will lead to biting or scratching.

Why Do Cats Wag Their Tails When Sleeping?

Cats wag their tail when sleeping. This action is designed to acknowledge your presence. Your cat is informing you that she knows you are nearby. This could be a threat or a sign of trust. It depends on your relationship with your cat.

A cat nap differs from main sleep. Cats typically doze lightly throughout the day. Your pet is still aware of her surroundings. She will denote her reaction to this using her tail. As always, the degree of movement helps you understand your cat’s state of mind.

why do cats wag their tails when sleeping?

A quick flick is a sign of irritation. The cat knows you are there. She is annoyed that you are potentially interrupting her nap. Do not even consider waking your cat up. It’s best to walk away. If you disturb your cat further, you’ll risk being scratched.

A slow, lazy wag, especially with the tail erect, is an acknowledgment. Your cat is granting permission to stick around while she sleeps. Cats will not sleep if they feel uncomfortable. This tail flick means that your cat feels safe with you nearby. Your presence will not disturb her doze.

It’s also possible that your cat is dreaming. Trends in Neuroscience confirm that cats dream. It is believed that cats relive experiences of the day while sleeping. Your pet is reliving a hunt, a petting session or a meal.

My Cat is Wagging the Tip of Her Tail

Twitching at the tip of a cat’s tail denotes a moment of pure happiness or excitement. You will only see this in contented cats.

It begins with the tail itself. As Behavioral Processes explains, the way a cat carries her tail sends a message. Cats that keep their tail erect feel confident and assured. If the cat is lying down, this goes double. A cat will not assume such a position if she is nervous or anxious.

Twitching of the tip of the tail from a lying cat suggests one of the following:

  • Observing prey through a window and building excitement
  • Enjoying attention being bestowed upon her
  • Waiting for your get home all day

Twitching of the tip of a tail could also denote aggression and frustration. This will typically be accompanied by other behaviors. Your cat is unlikely to lie down in this state of mind. Wait a few seconds before approaching. If your cat does not hiss, you are safe.

A cat twitching the tip of her tail can look worrying at first. The body language is strikingly similar to spraying. Your pet is just happy to see you. Spraying is virtually impossible while lying down.