There is a rather popular saying which proclaims that the ‘eyes are the window into a person’s soul’. And there is a lot of truth in that.
Look attentively into a person’s eyes while talking and you’ll be able to get a good sense of what the other party is thinking and feeling.
When it comes to cats, we need to look a little further.
We need to look past our cat’s eyes and at their tails if we wish to further understand how the cat is feeling.
Cats carry their emotions on their tails and it is a great barometer of your cat’s mood.
Your cat will slap you with its tail when it is trying to communicate with you. It could be that your cat is trying to get your attention or that your cat isn’t happy about something and is sending you a warning signal.
Let’s take a closer look at the ‘pawsible’ reasons when your cat uses his tail like a training whip on you.
Your Cat Wants Your Attention
Cats are smart creatures and have evolved to develop effective ways of communicating with us humans.
A cat’s tail is a great way of getting your attention when your feline friend wants it. When I mean attention, I meant your cat just wants to remind you of its presence and that you should embrace it.
My cat does this a lot when I’m working at my desk or watching TV on the couch. He will come over and start tail slapping me in the face with his tail.
It isn’t an aggressive swat but it feels like someone is trying to tickle your nose with a feather duster.
I can’t help but stop whatever I am doing and acknowledge the presence of my cat with a quick pet or kiss.
He will then sashay away smugly knowing that he has me wrapped around his cute little furry paws.
Your Cat Is Feeling Irritable
Have you ever experienced a time when your cat was lying comfortable next to you while you are stroking it and out of the blue your cat exhibits aggressive behavior towards you?
Been there, done that.
Here’s the thing.
Our cats love pets and will often appreciate the occasional strokes from us. However, cats are sensitive creatures and they tend to feel a lot more physically due to the large number of nerve endings in their body.
This helps them get more attuned to their environment when it comes to hunting and escaping predators.
In the case of our domestic cats, there’s no longer a need for them to hunt for food or escape from danger like their cousins in the wild. But their sensitivity will remain.
Your cat might feel great after one minute of affection from you. Chances are after a few minutes of that, it will start to feel uncomfortable for your furry friend which leads to a sensory overload.
Once your cat starts to feel agitated, it will use its tail to slap you or thump the floor. You will also notice your cat slap you with its tail in the initial moments but it is done in a more controlled and gentle manner.
An agitated cat can be thumping its tail rather aggressively on you to signal its displeasure. Some cats will even use their paws to hit their owners to make get the message across.
When any cat slaps you harshly with its tail, it is best to stop touching your cat and let it decompress before it scratches or bites you.
Your Cat Is Hungry
I am a night owl which means I dread waking up early in the morning. My cat on the other hand is up at 6 a.m. and ready to start his day with a big breakfast.
He will first attempt to wake me up by meowing outside my door for a few minutes. And if that doesn’t work, he will push my door open and jump on my bed.
And when that still fails to get my attention…
I will get a mouth or nose full of my cat’s furry tail.
My cat hits me in the face with his strong tail until I wake up. I kid you not when I say it can feel rather jarring when your cat uses tail slapping to wake you up in the morning.
There are even a few times when I opened my eyes and see my cat sitting on my chest with its back turned towards me and tail slapping me.
Once I’m up, I have no choice but to feed him or I can forget about sleeping.
The same thing happens at 8 a.m. when he wants a refill.
Such is my life.
Your Cat Wants Affection
Many cats will use tail slapping to let their owners know when they want affection. I can see a difference in my cat’s tail when he is looking for pets.
His tail slapping is more gentle and he uses longer and smoother strokes on my face. This is different when he just wants my attention.
He will also tend to lie down close to me so that it is easy for me to just reach out and give him some loving pets.
There are times when my cat will also have his tail wrapped around my leg when I’m stationary. He likes to also flop at my feet to get some belly rubs.
Giving Your Cat Belly Rubs
A word of caution for cat owners when it comes to giving your cat belly rubs. Not all cats enjoy having their stomach rubbed. It is a very vulnerable area for them as many of their vital organs are located there.
It may seem that a cat wants a belly rub when it is lying on its back and exposing that soft and fluffy belly to you.
You might be in for a nasty surprise when you try to touch that area.
Here’s a useful tip.
If you are unsure if a cat likes belly rubs, it is best to assume that it doesn’t. I’ve learned my lesson the hard way by falling into the ‘Belly Rub Trap’ a few times with stray cats.
Your Cat Wants To Play
A playful cat will use tail slapping on you when it wants to play. You will notice a difference in your cat’s energy level when it is in a playful mood.
The tail slapping might be fast and twitchy, it will be running up and down your home or even trying to get you to chase it around the house.
Don’t just sit there and ignore your cat when it wants to play. Engaging in playtime together with your cat is a great way to bond.
Physical activity is also good for your cat and helps to keep it healthy.
Your Cat Is Saying Hello
Even though many cats are considered to be aloof and unaffectionate, cats generally miss their owners when they are gone for a couple of hours.
If you are back from home after a long day at work, your cat will be waiting at the door for you. Your cat will either wrap its tail around your leg or meow for your attention.
When a cat brushes its tail against you, it is also rubbing its scent on you. This is your cat’s way of saying that you belong to your cat.
When cats are first born, they are not able to see and depend heavily on smell to recognize their siblings and mother.
The mother cat will lick her kittens to leave her scent on them and they will knead her to do the same. Cats have hidden scent glands in their paws that allow them to leave their unique scent signature on objects or other cats.
Cats will have to frequently refresh their scent on each other in order to keep things friendly and civil.
This is because your cats can turn aggressive toward each other when one returns from the vet as there are too many different scents on that cat.
Why Does My Cat Slap Me With His Paw?
Instead of using its tail, some cats prefer to use their paws when making an attempt to communicate.
A cat generally will reach out to paw you when it is feeling a range of emotions. This can also be due to your cat feeling playful, needy or irritable.
When your cat slaps you with its paws, 9 out of 10 times it wouldn’t make use of its claws if you read its body language right.
A cat that is in a bad mood will exhibit other signs like hissing, showing its teeth, puffing up its fur on the body and tail and pulling back its ears against its head.
All these body cues signal that your cat is ready to strike and will not hesitate to use its claws.
A cat in this state should be left alone to calm down. Do not go antagonize it any further by trying to make contact.
Why Does My Cat Hit Me When I Walk By?
Some cats, like mine, do this to exert their dominance and authority over those at home. It could also be your cat’s way of telling everyone else to stay out of its territory.
It can be cute at first but it can get old fast when your cat starts using its claws as well. I have had my cat claw at my ankles at night while I’m walking to the toilet just because he didn’t like me walking close to his territory.
There are times when he will even charge at me out of the blue at night and scare the heck out of me.
Such behaviors should not be tolerated and need to be corrected as soon as possible. It can be dangerous for families with elderly or young kids who are at a greater risk of falling over and hurting themselves.
There are a couple of things that you can do to try and stop your cat’s overactive paws.
Firstly, trim its claws. Blunt claws can still cause some harm but definitely a lot less than sharp ones. Make sure to trim your cat’s claws weekly to prevent them from getting too sharp. When trimming your cat’s claws, do not cut beyond the quick as they can cause your cat to bleed.
Secondly, learn to say “No!” to your cat when you’re unhappy with its behavior. Your cat might not understand what “no” means but it can tell from the tone of your voice that you are not happy with it.
Thirdly, carry the cat to another room area to redirect its attention away from your feet. This allows the cat to diffuse its pent up energy by using the scratching post or playing with an interactive toy. Do not pet or give your cats treats as a form of distraction or it might construe it as a reward for clawing you.
Fourthly, if your cat is still rather persistent about going after your feet even after trying to redirect its attention. Carry it by the scruff of its neck to a room for a short time out. This is what a mother cat would do for a kitten that has been misbehaving. Make sure to only keep your cat in the room for 5-10 minutes and not hours. You want to give your cat time to decompress and not get it overly stressed up by leaving it in a locked room alone for too long.
Cats are a lot more expressive than given credit for. When it comes to cats, it is all about body language.
You can really tell a lot by just observing your cat’s tail, ears and energy level. I guess this is why many people enjoy looking at cats as they tend to express their emotions through actions.
The next time your cat slaps you with its tail, you are now in a better position to grasp what it is trying to tell you.