I recently got a kitten, about a months ago. She is now 4 months old. She has had some stool related issues, but finally seems to be getting better. She is very playful and plays a lot with my other kitten. One thing i'm wondering:

She seems to always have her tail downwards while walking around, and only lifts it up when i pet her. According to other threads i found online, this seems to indicate that she is wary/cautious/defensive. Her tail is pointed to the ground, with the end being hooked slightly outwards. On this picture, the tail position labeled "worried". Cat Tail Language

Basically, she seems generally very comfortable to me, but i might just be interpreting it wrong. Are there cats that always have their tail down like this, or does this indicate that she is indeed cautious and not used to her new environment yet?


  • 3
    In my experience, the "curious" and "worried" positions in the picture linked is where you have a lot of individual variance, some cats will have the "curious" position almost straight back, while others have it lower to the ground. It is sometimes hard to judge without observing behavior, e.g. does she seem to move very cautiously as if looking for a threat, stopping to listen or peek before going around corners a lot?
    – bgse
    Dec 2, 2020 at 9:20
  • The “worried” graphic isn’t clear, but it’s not just a small curl at the end; the cat will pull its tail around its body to make itself a smaller target. What you describe is still “curious”.
    – StephenS
    Dec 2, 2020 at 17:13
  • I'd just give her time. One of my cats was a stray rescue who was hostile and wary when her fostering started; I think it was between 12-18 months after I adopted her that she finally started carrying her tail up more frequently. Just keep loving on her and she'll get more comfortable.
    – Allison C
    Dec 7, 2020 at 14:20

1 Answer 1


I think of a cat's tail positions as akin to a human facial expression. A smile is an indication of happiness, but how an individual person uses it to express their mood is highly dependent on the person. One person can be boisterous and quick to smile, the next person could be shyer and rarely smile but still be generally content. Some people might even smile when they are actually expressing a different emotion altogether, for instance some people will nervously smile when they are embarrassed. We learn to read individual people by making observations not just from their face, but their general body language and behavior, observing their personality and habits over time, and so forth.

As an example of the differences in cats, my current cat puffs his tail quite easily if something makes him jump, yet at the same time, he is definitely a lot less jumpy and anxious than my previous cat who rarely if ever puffed her tail.

As to what your cat is feeling, obviously I cannot observe your cat myself, so I cannot say with much certainty, but my current guess is that what you are observing is your cat's neutral posture. A cat that's actively trying to express anxiety or worry is unlikely to perk their tail up to the happy, confident posture just because they were petted. A worried or anxious cat will usually also behave in a way that makes their anxiety obvious. They'll warily slink about, act jumpy, and often try to hide.

But also the fact that your cat doesn't have its tail up more often in the happy, confident position says something about your cat's general personality. For instance, it may be that your cat is less expressive than some, or it may be that your cat is generally less outgoing and confident than some.

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