Why Does My Cat’s Tail Get Puffy When I Pet Her?

A lot of people think that cats are not as expressive as dogs. That simply isn’t true. In fact, cats have a way of expressing their emotions and one of those is through their tails. Today, we shall focus on your cat’s tail language, specifically on why your cat’s tail gets puffy each time you pet her.

Why Does Your Cat Puff Its Tail?

Piloerection is the term used to describe a phenomenon of a cat’s tail fluffing up and doubling in size. This happens because the small muscles in the skin located at the base of your cat’s hair follicles contract. As a result, the contraction makes the hair stand and the tail looks twice its usual size. It can be likened to having goosebumps in humans.

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Cat’s tail getting puffy is an involuntary response that is brought about either physically or psychologically.

Physical Reason Why Your Cat Puffs Its Tail

During moments of having a fun and playful time with you, it causes the tail to puff up and the tip of the tail curls that look like a question mark. If you see these two (2) reactions, your cat is being friendly towards you and may even want you to pet her forever.

Psychological Reasons for Tail Puffing

In case you pet her and you see her tail puffs and arch her back, you might as well back-off. This is especially true among newly-adopted kittens or adult cats who are not used to being touched, at least, not just yet. Thus, the puffy tail is a sign of fear and it is ready to attack you when provoked.

Also, when you pet your cat at the wrong spot, expect it to get mad and puff its tail. Unlike dogs, pussycats are not lovers of belly rubs. This area is very vulnerable. Petting the belly not only results in puffy tails and arched back, but you will also receive some hissing and might even claw you.

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Just leave your cat alone. Do it again the next day until she trusts you and becomes accustomed to being petted.

How Should You React?

  • Each cat responds to petting differently. Try to experiment and pet your cat behind the ear areas. But, do not touch the actual ears because cats do not like being petted in those areas.
  • Some cats also like being petted by the tail area. The sweetest spot is around the base of the tail. The best way to do this is to gently stroke your feline pet from its head down to the tail. If she’s happy, she will soften her muscles and may even elevate her rear end each time you reach the base of her tail.
  • The cheek area is another good area for a pet that elicits a puffed tail as a result of an elevated mood. The cheeks have concentrated scent glands, along with the lips that cats love to smell. This is why cats won’t resist being petted in these areas.
  • The forehead, between the eyes, and under her chin. Some cats boldly invite petting sessions by bumping their heads against their owners. This is called bunting. This is a signal that she wants you to pet her, if she’s happy, you’ll know because her tail will get puffy.
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Benefits of Petting Your Cat:

  • It promotes a strong bond with your pet.
  • It gives you the chance to feel for any lumps and other skin lesions.


Cats have a unique language of their own, one of those is the cat tail language. Whether your feline pet giggles along with you with a puffy tail or warns with you with a big goofy tail, take time to learn its cat tail language. It is vital for you and your cat’s happiness in your home. You’d be surprised with the myriad of emotions that your feline pet shares with you.

what are the reasons your pet cat puffs its tail? Check out the answer here, we have cat tips and tricks for you.

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