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Why Do Cats Have Tails? Important Aspects Of Cats Tails

Why Do Cats Have Tails? Important Aspects Of Cats Tails

Almost every animal that has ever existed has a tail. So, one question on most people’s minds is why animals have a tail. Although it is almost impossible for man to pinpoint the exact reasons animals have tails, there are various theories, and we will look at them all.

Some of the reasons cats have tails are to keep them warm, provide balance, and communicate between themselves and humans for agility and body functions. A cat’s tail is an extension of its spine, and it consists of several vertebrae and voluntary muscles with tendons and ligaments. 

The cat’s tail is an important part of the cat; however, not all cats have tails. Cats born without tails have no problem at all, and those who lose their tail will have difficulty adjusting but eventually get used to it. When your cat suffers any injury to its tail, it is best to take it to the veterinarian for medical attention immediately.

cat illustration

What Is The Purpose Of A Cat Having A Tail?

A cat’s tail consists of 23 vertebrae which are individual bones that lock together. This allows the cat to twist and bend its appendage; however, a cat’s tail is not entirely flexible. So, you should not tie, twist, or bend a cat’s tail; doing this can break the delicate bones in the tail and cause damage.

As stated earlier, a cat’s tail is an important aspect of that cat. A cat’s tail does many things for the cat; one of the main functions of a tail in a cat is to provide balance to the cat. When a cat walks between narrow spaces like a shelf or fence, its tail acts as a counterbalance for the cat and helps them stay stable.

So, the tail is always up when a cat walks over narrow surfaces. The tail also provides balance when the cat runs or pounces on prey. Cats use their tails to communicate with each other and with the humans around them. A lashing or flicking tail movement means the cat is agitated, while a slow waving movement means it is focused and concentrating on something.

When a cat’s tail is straight up with a slight curve at the end, it means the cat is approaching in a friendly manner. However, when a cat tucks its tail next to or under its body, it means it is either frightened or in pain. A cat with an upright tail signifies a happy or confident cat, while a cat with a lying tail signifies a scared or angry cat.

A cat’s tail also provides warmth to the cat; when a cat feels cold, they usually sit or step on their tails to provide extra warmth to their paws. Cats also use their tails to execute bodily functions because they are connected to the vertebrae and muscles in the body. A cat’s tail helps it give birth, poop, and pee.

Do Cats Have Control Over Their Tails?

Yes, cats are in charge of moving their tail in whichever direction they please. Cats can bend, curl, flick, and rotate their tails on command. A cat’s tail consists of complex nerves, bones, tendons, muscles, and ligaments from the tip to the base. These receptors and nerves are connected to the cat’s nervous system, brain, and spine.

This gives the cat full control of its tail, so just as the cat can command its legs to move, it can also command its tail to curl or wag. A cat’s tail may appear to be flexible and soft, especially if it is hairy or fluffy. A cat is fully aware of its tail and feels every touch.

Cats do not need to learn to control their tail; it is an instinct, just like walking and eating. A cat’s tail contains up to 10 percent of its bone mass and six different muscles. These muscles are used to wag, twitch, and shift the tail as the cat pleases. When a cat’s tail feels temperature changes or comes in contact with an object, its nerve receptors take in the data.

The data is transmitted to the brain through the nervous system and the spine. So, the cat’s brain processes and computes the information; the cat, in turn, reacts accordingly. This process takes place within a fraction of a second. Cats control their entire tail from the base to the tip when they are awake and alert.

However, once a cat falls asleep, it loses some control over its tail, so there might be movement or twitching in the tail due to involuntary reflexes. A cat moves its tail while it is asleep because it has a dream involving movement.

Why Do Cats Like Their Tails Pulled?

Sometimes when playing with your cat, it might be tempting to pull its tail; however, doing this causes pain to the cat and results in some damages. It is a misconception that cats like their tails pulled; no cat wants you to pull its tail because of the damage it might cause.

A cat’s tail consists of skin, fat, muscles, fur and is also an extension of its spine. When a cat’s tail is pulled, it can result in a dislocated tail, a damaged tail that can cause paralysis. Pulling a cat’s tail, especially when done in a swift and hard manner can result in dislocation of the tail, which is very painful for the cat.

When a cat’s tail is dislocated, it will hang limply depending on where the dislocation occurred. Sometimes, the tail will swell and cause pain to the cat if touched. Once symptoms like this are noticed in a cat, you should immediately visit the veterinarian with the cat for medical attention.

Paralysis is also an effect of pulling a cat’s tail; when a cat’s tail is damaged, it can result in the rear paralysis of the cat’s body. In cases like this, all connections the tail has with the rest of the body are cut off, and the brain cannot transfer signals through the tail to the rest of the body. Paralysis can sometimes affect the bowel movement of the cat.

cat running

Does It Hurt A Cat When You Grab It By The Tail?

Yes, grabbing a cat by its tail is very painful for the cat; it is just like when someone grabs you by your ear; the pain you feel is the same as the cat feels. As stated earlier, a cat’s tail is an extension of its spine, so grabbing it by its tail causes pain at the tail and the spine.

Sometimes you notice a veterinarian holding a cat by its tail during an examination and think it is all right for you to do the same. However, veterinarians have learned how to hold a cat by its tail properly; this procedure keeps the cat in place and controls it during physical examinations.

A cat’s tail is very sensitive, so they are very protective of their tail. Grabbing a cat by its tail can easily annoy it and cause it to react aggressively to you. It can also result in a lack of trust as the cat will feel you do not care about it and like causing it pain.

Final Thoughts

Animals have tails for a reason; it is common to wonder why animals have tails, and humans do not. You will notice that some of the functions of an animal’s tail are not essential to humans. There are various alternatives for humans; we can easily adapt and utilize various things for our comfort, unlike animals.