Why Do Cats Wag Their Tails When Lying Down? – Cat’s Behaviour

Written by

Amy Sawy

Veterinarian. DVM


Joseph M. Plummer

Veterinarian, DVM, MVZ

why do cats wag their tails while lying down

Cats are more mysterious than dogs because they are more selective and subtle when displaying emotions. But maybe we simply don’t understand their language.

Cats talk with their tails. If you notice your feline wagging, thumping, or flicking its tail, it could be because it is happy, playful, annoyed, in pain, scared, or focused.

Why do cats wag their tails while lying down? Here are six possible reasons and the cat tail signs to watch out for!


Reasons Why Cats Wag Their Tails While Lying Down


What does it mean when your cat’s tail moves fast or slow? What is the difference between flicking, thumping, swinging, a tail shoved in your face, and all the other things cats do with their tails?

Understanding cat tail language involves paying attention to how your cat is moving their tail. Speed and direction provide crucial clues in identifying what your cat is feeling.

It is also important to remember to read all the signs. Your cat’s tail movement is frequently paired with other body movements and is a reaction to its environment. You should also factor in your cat’s age and unique personality.

Keeping the entire context in mind leads to more accurate readings of cat tail signs.

With all that said, here are some likely possibilities for the behavior:

1. Your cat is feeling happy

Cats thump their tails to show they are happy or content. It could be because you are scratching them under their chins and they are enjoying it along with your company, or they are simply in a very comfortable lying position.

2. It is feeling playful or focused


If you notice your cat wagging tip of tail while lying down on its stomach, it means they are focusing and getting ready to pounce on the toy you are wagging in front of it or maybe an insect!

They may also make little sounds that sound like chirping when in this position.

3. It is sad or angry

If you see your cat flicking end of tail slowly, it may be because it is unhappy. As tempting as it is to give it cuddles to cheer it up, your cat may actually prefer being left alone for a little while instead.

If your cat is flicking its tail quickly or doing an angry cat tail wag, though – yes, you guessed it – it’s probably angry.

4. It is somewhat annoyed.


If your cat is swishing its tail side-to-side while sitting, it may be annoyed. Maybe it woke up on the wrong side of the bed, isn’t in the mood for you to pet him, or thinks you’ve already stroked it too much, and needs some alone time.

5. It is sleeping well and dreaming – and wanting you to go away.


When your cat is sleeping soundly and looking so adorable, it may be hard to resist sneaking in a few pets or strokes while it isn’t looking – but then it suddenly flicks its tail!

Cats flick their tails when they are sleeping to let you know they know what you did and, in true cat fashion, want you to go away. However, it may also mean they are in the middle of a dream.

6. Your cat is in pain.

If your cat wags its tail while lying down, pain may be the culprit. You can tell something is wrong if your cat shows other signs along with its lethargy, such as changes in appetite and behavior.

It pains cat owners when they notice their sick cat wagging tail. Consider calling your vet soon for diagnosis and some prescribed medication.

Frequently Asked Questions


Because a cat laying down wagging tail can have so many explanations, it is a widely discussed topic on Reddit. Here are more possible questions you may have on the subject:

What does it mean when a cat sticks its tail in your face?

This behavior can have various explanations, from your cat wanting to get your attention and affection, to your cat teasing you.

Some people at Quora also state this is a sign of their comfort and trust since your cat is willing to lay all over you fearlessly and even show you their butt when they lift their tails.

What does a cat flicking its tail mean?

Depending on the speed and direction, a cat flicking its tail can mean anything from sadness to annoyance to anger.

Slower flicks usually display sadness, while more agitated, brisk flicks express anger and annoyance.

Do cats wag their tails when happy?

Cats can wag their tails while happy, but they more commonly thump their tails to express happiness instead.

If you see your cat lying down and purring contentedly, it is almost guaranteed to be thumping its tail gently, too.

Why does my cat wag its tail when I pet it?

As mentioned at the beginning, it’s best to read the whole situation before deciding what it means when your cat wags his tail when you pet him.

Cats occasionally wag their tail to show their love for you. This is likely the case if they are also rubbing against you while you are petting them.

If the tail flicking gets more agitated and your cat starts to do other things like snap at your fingers, though, it’s possible that they are annoyed and want you to stop, or are feeling overstimulated.

Why does my cat wag her tail while sleeping?

If you touch your cat when it’s sleeping sound, it flicks its tail while sleeping, telling you that they want you to leave. However, it is also possible that your cat is just in the midst of a nice dream.

What are some other things cats do with their tails?

Cats do more than just swish, flick, and wag. Here are a few other things cats do with their tails and what they could be trying to tell you:

  • Tuck their tail in between their legs: a sign that they are scared.
  • Wrapping their tail around your leg: a sign of affection
  • Puffed, arched tail: a sign they feel threatened and are not afraid to fight back!
  • Quivering, upright tail: a sign they are excited – mostly probably happy to see you!


Why do cats wag their tails while lying down? This is a question complicated by other factors such as your cat’s age, personality, and specific circumstances.

Maybe one day, we can develop a pet collar that enables our pets to speak to us with words.

In the meantime, however, while cat owners can share their educated guesses as to what our felines are trying to say amongst themselves, you will be able to read your cat best based on the relationship you have built with them.

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