Why Do Cats Have Tails?

A feline's tail has both physical and psychological benefits, making it something rather intriguing to learn about. The more you understand your cat's makeup, the more you know your cat. So, what essential purposes do these meaningful appendages serve, exactly?
Why Do Cats Have Tails? - KittyNook

Felines are rather impressive creatures--they can see at night, jump incredibly high, and carry out stunning acts of contortion. They also have what some call a "fifth limb"--the super swishy, occasionally poofy, constantly active appendage.

A feline's tail has both physical and psychological benefits, making it something rather intriguing to learn about. The more you understand your cat's makeup, the more you know your cat. So, what essential purposes do these meaningful appendages serve, exactly?

The Active Appendage

A cat's tail is nature's creative way of providing felines with their incredible sense of equilibrium. In both domestic and wild cats, this appendage acts as a counterbalance that enables them to gracefully walk on slender surfaces and jump and run to play with or pursue prey.

Another thing that our feline friends are famous for is constantly landing on their feet. While it is not specifically their tails responsible for this unique ability, it sure does contribute! Called the "righting reflex," this ability is inherent and due mainly to the adaptability of cat spines and a superior vestibular system. Felines this appendage will mostly always land on their feet. It's a fascinating feat of physics embedded in a cat's body!

Cat tails are additionally essential emotional barometers. Cats communicate with their tails; the mild curve, slow-moving swish, or full poof tails can tell you many things about how a cat feels. While wild felines cannot hold their tails upright, domestic cats do, and they will certainly tell you a great deal with this remarkable appendage as long as you are paying attention.

Why Do Cats Have Tails?

Cat tail are significant for several reasons. Cats utilize their bottoms for a range of things. Felines use their tails for the kitten to cat interaction, cat to human interaction, and most notably--for equilibrium and agility as they search for prey and evade predators. Several different physiological functions power their tails. Cat tails are an extension of the cat's spinal cord, and also they consist of essential components such as nerves, blood vessels, muscles, vertebrae, and scent glands.

Every cat's tail is distinct; nonetheless, every feline uses its appendage in similar ways.

What Is A Cat's Tail Made Of? 

The bones in a pet cat's tail are known as caudal vertebrae. Felines generally have 18-23 caudal vertebrae. Cats with shorter or no tails will have fewer caudal vertebrae. Even humans that do not have tails have 3-5 back vertebrae. Our caudal vertebrae are fused into one bone, called the coccyx, which helps stabilize us when we sit. Felines have the same cervical vertebrae as the majority of other creatures. However, they have an added vertebra in the thoracic area and two more vertebras in the lumbar region than humans.

The extra vertebrae give cats increased adaptability in their spinal column and also helps them with their speed and agility. The tail is an essential part of these skills. Nerves run throughout a cat's tail, which assists them in getting information from their surrounding environment, essentially permitting them to "feel" with their tail.

Do Felines Have Control Over Their Tails?

Yes! Our furry friends do have control over their bottoms. They can willingly utilize their appendage to interact with humans and other cats. Domestic felines can hold their tails up high or draw them down in between their legs. Cats can additionally swish their bottoms from side to side, which contributes to the nuance of how they interact with their surrounding.

Nonetheless, there are animals in this world that have a lot more control over their tails. These tails are called prehensile tails, and also they serve as an added appendage. Animals can use their prehensile tails to feel items in their environment, such as using them to climb trees.

Do Felines' Tails Grow As They Age?

A feline's tail does grow as the cat ages. Nevertheless, with adult cats, the tail remains the same length. Kittens can keep growing up to 2 years of age, which means their appendage can continue to expand with them. Nevertheless, cats are born with with the needed vertebrae complete, so tail growing has more to do with physiological growth than adding extra bones.

If a feline has a full-length tail, it will usually be anywhere between 9 to 11 inches long. The feline tail size is frequently connected to the overall size of the cat since they utilize their tail to support their body when running and leaping.

What Do Felines Utilize Their Tails For?

Felines utilize their tail for balance and agility, which they need when hunting victims and climbing and jumping. These incredible appendages help to counterbalance the body of the cat. The anatomy of their back and tail provides power and tons of flexibility, allowing them to be agile. This agility helps them respond quickly to their prey and escape their predators. If you have seen videos of snow leopards or cheetahs hunting, you will notice exactly how their tails are positioned in response to their activities. It is pretty amazing.

Cats likewise use their tails for communication with other cats and with us humans. The tail movement and position and can tell you a lot about how they are feeling: 

  • Bottoms Up: Cats feeling social will hold their tail upright, often with a bit of hook at the end. Felines who are anticipating being fed might also hold their tails up. When meeting other cats, kittens who hold their tail up are good with other kitties.
  • Tail down: Cats that are nervous or excited may hold their tails low in between their legs; the tail may be stiff or may have a flick at the end. This tail position may be accompanied by the feline walking low in the ground as they try to find a hiding area. A normal, unamused cat might stroll with its tail in a down position, but the end will hang relaxed behind them. 
  • The quiver: When cats greet their proprietors, they may approach them with an upright tail and also slink it on you. This signifies positive emotions. This tail placement may be coupled with scent marking and connected to territorial protection and/or reproductive habits.
  • The flipping: This tail motion, flipping the whole of their tail rapidly, signifies that the feline is feeling lively or positively excited 
  • The thrashing: A cat trashing its tail strongly from side to side is angry or terrified. The end of the tail will be shortened and tight. This tail activity might also be paired with stiff body movement and also challenging staring eyes. Felines presenting these habits are likely to act aggressively. If you see these actions, it's best to instantly remove yourself or other pets from the situation.

Do All Felines Have Tails?

No, not all felines have tails. Some cats are born without it, and some kitties may suffer an injury to their tail that requires it to be severed. Manx cat breeds are naturally born without a tail, comparable to bobcats and lynxes. A specific gene is in charge of the bobtail seen in Manx cats and other breeds.

The Good and The Bad

Kittens without these lovely appendages are not restricted whatsoever. While a tail is handy to a cat, felines without tails learn to adjust quickly to a tailless life. Even cats who have a tail and have tail amputation due to injury learn to adjust quickly to life without a tail.

Tails serve vital functions. Cats are among the animals that have taken advantage of having a tail. Tails are loaded with bones, nerves, blood, muscular tissues, and scent glands. All of these physiological features interact to give cats their amazing equilibrium, navigate quickly and efficiently, and interact with their surroundings. Cat proprietors also learn the subtleties of cat communication through the tail. 

Because of the complicated construction of feline tails, tail injuries can occur. Often, these are because of falls, accidents (such as a tail getting caught in a closing door), or inappropriate dealing such as tail drawing. Common cat tail injuries such as avulsion injuries happen when the tail is pulled vigorously, might extend or tear nerves, while breaks near the base of the tail may cut nerves. Nerve damage can affect a feline's balance and general mobility, peeing, and excretion.

If somehow, you have developed a practice of tail-pulling, you may want to give pats on the bottom around the base of your cat's tail. It could save you both a lot of pain over time. If you presume your kitty's tail may have some injury, consult your veterinarian right now.

While most felines have tails, some breeds, such as the Manx, don't. Do not worry. These cats have been bred with much shorter tails or nubs, and their bodies conveniently make up for the loss of the tail. Felines who have actually damaged, or even dismembered, tails cans also learn to makeup as long as there is no irreversible nerve damage related to the injury.


Cats use their tails for different purposes—a variety of different physiological functions powers their tails. Tails belong to the cat's spine, and they contain crucial aspects such as vertebrae, nerves, blood vessels, muscle mass, and scent glands.

Previous Article Next Article