Cats communicate in a variety of ways. Their purrs can have different meanings, but cats also communicate with body language.

For example, ear position is a good indicator of how a feline is feeling. Upward ears mean a cat is alert or happy, while backward or flat ears mean to steer clear because he's irritated or frightened.

But one of the best ways to get insight into your feline friend's mood is to look at her tail. Take a look below to learn all about the tales your cat's tail can tell.

Straight in the air

cat with high, straight tail Photo: Princes Milady/Flickr

When a cat holds its tail high in the air, he's expressing confidence, excitement or contentment. Cats will often greet their owners with their tails straight in the air, which is a cat's way of saying he's happy to see you.

Curved like a question mark

cat with curved tail Photo: wabisabi2015/Flickr

An erect tail with a curve at the end that resembles a shepherd's crook or a question mark indicates friendliness or playfulness. Your cat is telling your it's a good time for some head scratches or to play with a favorite toy.

Low tail

cat with lowered tail Photo: mnsc/Flickr

When felines keep their tails low to the ground, this often means they're unsure of a situation and could be aggressive. However, some breeds, such as Persians and Scottish Folds, tend to carry their tails low even when they're in playful moods.

Swishing tail

cat swishing tail Photo: RachelSharon/Flickr

Tails that move slowly from side to side are common when a cat is focused on a particular object, such as an insect or a toy. You'll often see this move right before the cat pounces.

Flicking tail

cat whipping tail Photo: carifrique/Flickr

A fast-moving tail that whips back and forth or slaps the ground means a cat is irritated or fearful and will likely exhibit aggression.

Puffy tail

kitten with busy tail Photo: abocon/Flickr

When a feline's tail becomes spiky or fluffy, the animal is frightened and trying to appear larger to ward off something it perceives as a threat.

Tucked tail

cat with tucked tail Photo: tracilawson/Flickr

A tail tucked beneath the body indicates fear, uncertainty or submission and means something in the cat's environment is making it uneasy.

Wrapped around you or another animal

If your kitty wraps his tail around you or another pet in your household, this is the equivalent of placing an arm around a loved one and indicates companionship.

Shaking or vibrating tails

When cats hold their tails straight in the air and shake them rapidly, this typically means they're excited or are anticipating something good. Many cat owners report that their pets do this before being fed or receiving treats.

What your cat's tail can tell you
Paying attention to the position of a cat's tail can give you insight into its mood and clue you in to what kind of behavior to expect.