When you imagine a silhouette of a cat, you think of three very prominent features. These are their pointy ears, their thin whiskers .. and a long curly tail. We instinctively know that the tail tells us a lot about how our cat ‘feels’. However, just how much can we really tell? As Melbourne’s top Family & Pet Photography Studio, we often portray those little features that make our feline friends … well … just that little bit distinctive.
The importance of Cat Tails
Firstly, how sensitive is a cat’s tail?
Although it differs between individuals, there is a surprisingly high number of nerves in there. There is absolutely no fat! All that stops you from tickling your feline madly, every time that tail touches your leg is some thick skin and fur. In other words, this area of the cat’s body is second only to their whiskers for sensitivity.
Although it is hard to believe, a naturally tailless (or short tailed) breed like the Manx is in fact the most sensitive in the ‘tail’ area. This is because they all have a slight ‘hump’ where the tail should be. All the nerve endings are concentrated in this one area, instead of being spread out. Without full protection, and being close to the skin means you would be quickly scowled at for even considering putting any pressure on this area.
What about the expression of a cat’s tail? Can we really tell how they are feeling ?
Most of us instinctively know that when a tail is held up, it is usually a positive indication of general contentment.
This may be with you, or simply the happiness of it being meal time. After all, let’s not kid ourselves that we are all that matters to our feline friends. ;o) Sometimes, we are treated to an absolute “S-shaped” tail like this one:
Having said that, if the tail is held rigidly straight up – this is different. If their tail is without even a curl at the end; then the slightest shaking of this erect tail, is usually a sign of irritation.
And of course, the biggest sign of unhappiness of all, is when they pull their tail down between their back legs and hold it there … uh oh! Very occasionally we may have to chastise our feline companions with a stern word or two if they are very naughty. Of course, when we immediately follow-this up by reminding them of our unconditional affection – that tail will immediately revert to that neutral state of ambivalence, often wrapped comfortably around the side of their body in a long gentle curve.
Is it just us, or do you also notice this relaxation being accompanied by a few quick licks of their side? All these behaviours are part of the wonders of having cats enter our lives …
Here are some more of our tail moments from our Cat Photography folio:
For more information of what tales a tail can tell, we suggest reading here and here
Tails – Cat Photography Melbourne