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 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. If your cat is staring out the window, it 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 its tail while lying down has a more wholesome explanation.

Do Cats Wag Their Tails?

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

Tail ActionMeaning
Swishing wildly from left to rightBack off 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, your cat is overstimulated

When a cat wags its tail while lying down, it’s a little different. The cat has to be relaxed.

Cat Wags Its 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. 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 for physical interaction when it’s desired.

The fact that your cat remains lying down is a compliment. It suggests that your 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. As Animal Cognition explains, felines recognize and enjoy the sound of their owner’s voices.

Is My Cat Expressing Contentment?

A lying down cat will often wag its tail while being petted. Your pet 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. You are bonding through petting and affection.

The moment the tail wagging speeds up, you should 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 they’re 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. Cats are not as unpredictable as some people claim.

cat wagging tip of tail

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 a warning. If you see your cat lying down and behaving this way, distract it. Tossing a toy is recommended. 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. It may also be imitating its prey. Cats making cooing sounds similar to birds. It may 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 be scratched. Let your cat cool off before interacting. If it grows more agitated, close the curtains to obscure its view.

Is My Cat in Pain?

Cats hide physical pain. Your cat does not want anybody knowing it 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 its tail upward and shake it. This is an involuntary, reflex action. If your cat notices that it is doing this, it’ll stop. It’s a subtle action that can be missed.

Check that your cat is not injured. There is a slim chance that it wants to walk toward you but cannot. It may have hurt or strained a limb.

This tail movement can also denote excitement. 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
  • Loss of appetite

There are a number of reasons why a cat could be in pain. It may have experienced a one-off impact injury. It may be in dental discomfort.

Why Do Cats Thump Their Tails When Lying Down?

If your cat thumps its tail, it is as a warning. It usually means that it 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 cat will warn you to stop.

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

Why Do Cats Wag Their Tails When Sleeping?

This action is designed to acknowledge your presence. Your cat is informing you that it 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 cat is still aware of its surroundings.

It will denote its reaction to this by using the tail. 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. It is annoyed that you are potentially interrupting its nap. Do not even consider waking your cat up. It’s advisable 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 it 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 its 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 cat is reliving a hunt, a petting session, or a meal.

My Cat is Wagging the Tip of Its 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, 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 it 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 it
  • 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.

The body language is strikingly similar to spraying. Your cat is just happy to see you. Spraying is virtually impossible while lying down.