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 it is feeling. Tail movement while lying down can be a particularly revealing body language in cats.

A cat wagging its tail is acknowledging a human/animal without getting up. This behavior can also denote excitement. So, if your cat is staring out the window, it is imagining pouncing on birds. The tail wagging is an imitation of the birds in an attempt to gain their attention.

Occasionally, this wag is an involuntary display of pain. So, you’ll need to check for other symptoms of discomfort, such as an arched back or uncharacteristic aggression. Usually, a cat slowly wagging its tail while lying down has a more positive explanation.

Do Cats Wag Their Tails?

Watching a cat’s tail provides insight into its mood. This table summarizes the different meanings:

Tail ActionMeaning
Swishing wildly from left to rightBack away as the cat is in a bad mood
Gentle swaying from left to rightCome on over as 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 as your cat is overstimulated

Cat Wags Its Tail While Lying Down

There are various explanations for this action:

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

These readings have very different meanings. Pairing the action with another body language will help you understand what’s happening.

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? Well, it may be busy. Cats do not see humans as masters to serve. Your cat will approach you for physical interaction when it’s desired.

The fact that your cat remains lying down is a compliment. It suggests that the cat has a secure attachment to you, according to Cell.

Speak to your cat when it wags its tail at you while lying down. Just saying, “hello” makes a cat happy. Felines recognize and enjoy the sound of their owners’ voices.

cat wagging tip of tail

Is My Cat Expressing Contentment?

A cat this is lying down will often wag its tail while petted. Your cat is sending you a message about how it feels.

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/hissing if you get it wrong.

If your cat lifts its rear and swishes its tail gently, it is happy. Your cat is asking for more petting, so you are bonding together.

The moment the tail wagging speeds up, you should proceed with caution. This is a sign that your cat is growing frustrated. Note that purring can occur when a cat is feeling agitated or sore.

There is a time limit on how long cats find petting enjoyable. Your cat will bite or scratch if you stroke it for too long. By watching its tail, you can avoid this outcome.

Does My Cat Want to Play?

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.

The wag may be a display of excitement mid-play. 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 its tail because it is concentrating on a hunt. Lying down precedes a pounce. The cat is making itself small and inconspicuous to avoid detection.

Cats also wave their tails to mesmerize prey. It gains 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 the bottom
  • Clicking the mouth
  • Shifting weight between back legs

These behaviors are warning signs. If you see your cat lying down and behaving this way, you should distract it. Giving it a toy is recommended. If you fail to do so, the cat may start to ‘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. It may also be imitating its prey. Cats make cooing sounds similar to birds. It may also attempt a physical impersonation of a bird’s quivering tail feathers.

This excitement can turn to frustration. Do not approach your cat while it is agitated, as you risk being scratched. If it grows more agitated, close the curtains to obscure its view.

Is My Cat in Pain?

Cats will try to hide any signs of physical pain. It does not want anybody to realize that it is vulnerable as it leaves them open to attack from territorial rivals or predators.

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

This tail movement can also denote excitement. Look out for other signs that your cat is in pain:

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

There are several reasons why a cat could be in pain. It may have experienced an impact injury, or its teeth may hurt, for example.

Why Do Cats Thump Their Tails When Lying Down?

If your cat thumps its tail, it is a warning sign. It usually means that it is reaching a saturation point with an activity, such as petting or grooming.

Perhaps you are petting it in the wrong place. All cats have different sensitivities and pressure points. Cats dislike being touched on the belly or feet. Get too close, and your cat will warn you to stop.

Your cat thumps its tail to inform you of its unhappiness, and expects you to understand what it’s telling you. If you continue petting, it will assume that you are ignoring its visual cues.

Why Do Cats Wag Their Tails When Sleeping?

The cat is informing you that it knows you are nearby. This could mean that it sees you as a threat, or it could be a sign of trust. It ultimately depends on how well you are bonded with the cat.

A cat nap differs from sleep. Cats doze lightly throughout the day, but they remain aware of their surroundings. The amount of tail movement helps you to understand your cat’s state of mind at that time.

why do cats wag their tails when sleeping?

A quick flick of the tale is a sign of irritation. The cat knows you are there, and is annoyed that you are interrupting its nap.

A slow, lazy wag, especially with the tail erect, is an acknowledgment. Your cat is permitting you to remain in the room while it sleeps. This tail-flick means that your cat feels safe with you nearby.

Your cat may be dreaming, according to Trends in Neuroscience. It is believed that cats relive experiences of the day while sleeping. Your cat may be reliving a successful hunt, a petting session, or a meal it enjoyed.

My Cat is Wagging the Tip of Its Tail

Twitching at the tip of a cat’s tail denotes happiness or excitement. It begins with the tail itself. As Behavioral Processes explains, cats that keep their tail erect feel confident and assured.

Twitching at the tip of the tail from a lying down cat suggests that it is:

  • Observing prey through a window
  • Enjoying getting attention
  • Waiting for you to get home

Twitching at the tip of a tail can also denote frustration, but other behaviors will accompany this action. Your cat is unlikely to lie down if it’s in this state of mind. If your cat does not hiss, it is unlikely to be frustrated.