What Does it Mean When a Cat Flicks its Tail?

what does it mean when cat flick its tail

Cats will often flick their tails back and forth. If you have a cat, you have probably noticed this particular motion happening a lot. It’s a normal part of a cat’s body language, but what does it mean? Why does a cat flick its tail? There are a few different reasons for this behavior.


A cat flicking its tail may be a sign that it is happy and wants to play. When a cat feels playful, their tails will often wave back and forth very smoothly. Sometimes it’s their whole tails which will move, or it could just be the tip of the tail which flicks back and forth.

Some scientists believe that this tail flicking motion is a natural instinct designed to distract potential prey, although this has not been proven. If your cat feels playful, it may also have its ears facing forward, it might make eye contact with you, and they might lay down facing the toy or target, potentially with their claws out.


Cats may also flick their tails when they feel agitated or annoyed. Along with flicking, an agitated cat may also thump its tail on the ground. Unlike a playful cat which will smoothly and constantly flick its tail, an agitated cat’s tail flicking will come in the form of quick and sudden bursts.

Other signs of agitation in cats include a tense body, wide eyes with dilated pupils, and ears that may be turned a little bit. These, along with intermittent flicking and thumping of the tail are clear warnings that a cat is annoyed. It is probably telling you to stop whatever it is that you are doing.


A cat may also flick its tail when it is just bored or idling. They often do this when they are content, and sometimes they even do it in their sleep too. If your cat is sitting normally, its eyes look normal, and its ears are in a normal upward position, your cat is just idling or bored.


When a cat is being aggressive or hunting, you may notice that it will flick its tail very quickly and vigorously. If the tail is flexed or puffed up, low to the ground, and flicking back and forth vigorously, your cat is either in hunting mode or just being aggressive in general.

If you notice your cat doing this, try to steer clear of it or stop whatever it is you are doing, or else you may get scratched or bitten.

Other signs of aggression in cats include turned ears, narrow pupils, staring directly towards a target, and of course hissing too. An aggressive cat may also bare its teeth towards you or its target.


As you can see, there are many reasons why a cat flicks its tail. The trick is to examine how the tail is flicking and what the cat’s body language is like in general. Tail flicking can be due to boredom or playfulness, but be on the lookout for signs of annoyance or aggression.

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