Cats always have a look of being up to something. You see them looking at us like we are simply landlords to them, at their beck and call, and you just know, they are trying to take over our world. Knowing this, scientists have been rushing around, frantically trying to figure out and understand what exactly it is that cats are thinking so that we better understand how they operate.
Clinical assistant professor and behavioral medicine expert at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, Carlo Siracusa, is quite possibly the guy who has the answer and will save us before it’s too late. After all of his studies, he reveals that it is the tail of a cat that is the best indicator as to how a cat is feeling and what kind of mood it is in. Dog owners are probably not surprised to hear this news.
Siracusa spoke with National Geographic on the matter and he revealed details about his findings. According to Siracusa, a cat’s tail that is positioned straight-up, indicates that it is acting in an aggressive manner. On the other hand, a tail that is straight-up but has the tip curled into a hooked position, is really a compassionate greeting for whoever is approaching – for the moment anyways. If the cat then, turns the hook downward into a downwards-trending curve, the cat is more than likely now in defensive mode.
Sometimes a cat will start to whip its tail around in a wild, nervous state, which means he is now on high alert and he is now aggressively warning you to stay away. Most often, this behavior is accompanied with long, almost angry sounding mewing. There are times when a cat owner might catch their cat making this maneuver in their sleep. If you catch your cat whipping it’s tail wildly while napping, chances are, it is just dreaming, but probably about something intense, like chasing a mouse.
Another tail-tell sign from a cat, is the puffed-up and arched back. This typically indicates the cat is afraid of something that is close-by and it is unsure of what to do or what to expect. Siracusa points out that nearly all the variants in tail activity, indicate a cat is fearful or about to act aggressively towards something, except for the one, hooked-tail position. The only other position a cat’s tail would be in that indicates the cat is relaxed and chilled, is when the tail is laying flat and still, beside the cat, with no obvious positioning or movement.
Something else that cats do that have had cat owners wondering, “what in the heck?” is the cat jumping up and bolting off somewhere without warning, after laying rather still and chilled. More than likely, this is an indication that the cat needed to suddenly release some pent-up emotional energy it was keeping bottled up – possibly some bottled fear or frustration.
Cats are what is known as crepuscular. This means that they are the most active at both dusk and dawn, which is caused by hunting skills that are “misfired.” The rest of the day, cats are pretty lazy and like to lay around and just stare at humans with a look of contempt plastered on their faces.
Another recent study showed that cats typically have just three major facial expressions that they use. These are “relaxed engagement,” “frustration,” and “fear.” Knowing this, it indicates that the majority, two-thirds, of their emoting is negativity-driven, hence all the negative facial and tail signals.
The funny thing is that despite the fact that cats seem to be a pent-up bottle that is full of disappointment, hatred, and anger, we still love them despite, and wouldn’t have it any other way.