The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 10-24-2011, 08:45 PM
Argent Towers Argent Towers is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Does your cat quiver its tail?

My cat, George, when he is in a playful mood, will often jump up onto my desk, when I'm at my desk on the computer, stand in front of my monitor, meow, put his tail straight up into the air, and then "quiver" his tail. What I mean is, his tail starts shaking - not shaking as in, flicking from side to side or something, but shaking the way a rattlesnake's tail shakes. Actually visibly vibrating. He also sometimes does this after he plays with the catnip-scented bubbles I like to blow for him. I've never seen another cat do this, but according to what I've read online, cats sometimes do it. Does your cat do it?
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 10-24-2011, 10:12 PM
Duckster Duckster is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Posts: 12,883
I assume he's been neutered. Otherwise, you'd be all stinkin' wet.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 10-24-2011, 11:22 PM
Argent Towers Argent Towers is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
What do you mean? Is this tail quivering associated with pissing, or spraying scent, in cats?
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 10-24-2011, 11:27 PM
Sierra Indigo Sierra Indigo is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by Argent Towers View Post
What do you mean? Is this tail quivering associated with pissing, or spraying scent, in cats?
Yes
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 10-24-2011, 11:30 PM
Lynn Bodoni Lynn Bodoni is offline
Creature of the Night
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Posts: 20,803
Yes. One of my current cats does it, and one of my now deceased cats used to do it, both when they were excited. Both female, and both spayed.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 10-24-2011, 11:40 PM
MissesA MissesA is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
He's spraying or trying too. Male cats do that. And yes they will in fact spray people.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 10-24-2011, 11:44 PM
Farmer Jane Farmer Jane is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 5,785
No. I don't have a cat. I don't like cats. I have a thing about friends with cats: I don't have friends with cats.

<narrows eyes>

What's wrong with you?
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 10-24-2011, 11:58 PM
BaneSidhe BaneSidhe is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
All of my cats do that, even Cleo [my girl kitty].
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 10-25-2011, 12:06 AM
AnalogSignal AnalogSignal is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 840
My female cat does this when she is excited about something.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 10-25-2011, 12:06 AM
EvilTOJ EvilTOJ is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
I've only had one cat that does it, Jasmine. She always quivers her tail when I come home from work (she greets me at the door, like a dog) and when she smells a can of something being opened for her. From what I've read cats only do it when they're extremely happy. It is just like a vibrating, like a rattlesnake's tail.

Last edited by EvilTOJ; 10-25-2011 at 12:07 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 10-25-2011, 12:18 AM
Antigen Antigen is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: was Montreal, now MD
Posts: 7,108
All three of my cats do that when they're happy, and sometimes right when waking up. All boys, all fixed, if that matters.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 10-25-2011, 10:20 AM
Mauvaise Mauvaise is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by MissesA View Post
He's spraying or trying too.
Not necessarily. You have to take context into it.

A behaviorist once told me that the tail quiver when being greeted is the only true sign of affection you get from a cat. It means they are happy/excited. All other signs of affection (kneading/bunting are self-serving for the cat).
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 10-25-2011, 11:29 AM
Malthus Malthus is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mauvaise View Post
Not necessarily. You have to take context into it.

A behaviorist once told me that the tail quiver when being greeted is the only true sign of affection you get from a cat. It means they are happy/excited. All other signs of affection (kneading/bunting are self-serving for the cat).
Sounds odd to me. Cats have many ways of showing affection. How can anyone tell which are "true"?
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 10-25-2011, 04:07 PM
caveman caveman is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: City of the Violet Crown
Posts: 1,459
Smoke, our gray female cat, does this when she is trying to get my attention by yapping at me loudly, especially when I'm ignoring her.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 10-25-2011, 06:51 PM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: SF Bay Area, California
Posts: 10,452
Quote:
Originally Posted by MissesA View Post
He's spraying or trying too.
If he wanted to, he would. Contrary to popular belief, neutered males are perfectly capable of spraying, as are females. It's just that neutering tends to mostly eliminate the urge to do so and almost as importantly apparently cuts down on the worst bit of the odor. It's not 100%, especially if the cat is neutered when they are older and are used to spraying. But it is highly effective, otherwise probably nobody would own a male cat .

But he really wanted to spray, he could and would.

Last edited by Tamerlane; 10-25-2011 at 06:51 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 10-25-2011, 09:10 PM
voguevixen voguevixen is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 1999
We had a cat that would do that when he saw us go into the kitchen - he knew that's where the food was, lol.

(We used to call it "shimmy tail")

Last edited by voguevixen; 10-25-2011 at 09:11 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 10-25-2011, 09:21 PM
Rushgeekgirl Rushgeekgirl is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
My WonTon (fixed male) does it but I've never seen my girls do it. I always thought it was a boy thing. I had a cat once who wasn't fixed who did it when he was about to spray.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 10-25-2011, 10:53 PM
ladysorrowfree ladysorrowfree is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
My cat (huge, male, fixed since kittenhood) only quivers his tail when he's frustrated about something or doesn't get what he wants. Generally he then stalks off to his litterbox, faces his rear to the wall, and sprays.

In the interest of anger management for everyone, we engineered him a litterbox big, tall, high, and covered. All his spray runs right back down into the litter. Now he gets to make his occasional statement, and we don't have to clean up after it.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 10-25-2011, 11:30 PM
Pyper Pyper is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Yes, my neutered male cat does it. I call it "shivery tail."
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 10-25-2011, 11:39 PM
Dr. Strangelove Dr. Strangelove is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
My cat does the tail quiver--spayed female. I enjoy making her do this by withholding her kitty treats for a few seconds after pulling them from the bag.
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 10-26-2011, 09:16 AM
BetsQ BetsQ is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
I read the OP yesterday and wasn't sure what this tail quiver was. Then, when I went to take a shower this morning and Charlie followed me into the bathroom - as always - and quivered his tail in the air, I thought, "Ooohhh, right! That's the tail quiver!" I've always understood it as, "I'm so happy to see you!"

(No spraying around here, but both the boys are fixed.)
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 10-26-2011, 09:44 AM
Mauvaise Mauvaise is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Malthus View Post
Sounds odd to me. Cats have many ways of showing affection. How can anyone tell which are "true"?
What ways are you thinking about?

I can think of a couple that people interpret as affection:

Bunting (rubbing their head/body against you), which isn't affection, they are marking you as theirs with scent glands.

Bringing you "gifts", also isn't affection. They are trying to train you to hunt. Momma cats will bring half-dead stuff to her kittens to teach them how to kill.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 10-26-2011, 10:32 AM
Malthus Malthus is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mauvaise View Post
What ways are you thinking about?

I can think of a couple that people interpret as affection:

Bunting (rubbing their head/body against you), which isn't affection, they are marking you as theirs with scent glands.

Bringing you "gifts", also isn't affection. They are trying to train you to hunt. Momma cats will bring half-dead stuff to her kittens to teach them how to kill.
Why is marking you with scent "not affection", while quivering the tail "affection"?

Seems to me that marking one's owner, and being affectionate, are not mutually exclusive.

More generally, when my cat sees me sitting on the couch, she jumps up with loud purrs and demands, by pushing her head at me, that I scratch her behind the ears. She then curls up against me, purring contentedly, pressing her back against me.

While no doubt each and every one of her acts has ulterior motives of some sort, the package of behaviours as a whole certainly appears to denote "affection".
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 10-26-2011, 12:15 PM
Lord Ashtar Lord Ashtar is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
One of my two male cats, both neutered, does this all the time. My vet said it was a sign of affection. It's not him trying to spray, because he can still do that, believe me.
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 10-26-2011, 12:35 PM
rhubarbarin rhubarbarin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Nope. Two cats, never seen it.

Does meowing insistently until I get let him get close enough that he can put his paws on my shoulders, in order to stare right at my face with an expression that sure looks like drunken love, and blissfully lick my face while purring ecstatically, count as 'affection'?

If not it's sure an excellent imitation! :P
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 10-26-2011, 12:37 PM
Infovore Infovore is offline
Confusing the polarity
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Somewhere fictional
Posts: 8,833
One of my cats (female, spayed, 6 years old) does this when she's happy. I think it's cute.
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 10-26-2011, 12:43 PM
postcards postcards is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: The other Long Beach.
Posts: 3,061
Quote:
Originally Posted by Argent Towers View Post
...after he plays with the catnip-scented bubbles I like to blow for him...
How on earth do you do this? Chew on catnip yourself?
__________________
Talking Pictures
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 10-26-2011, 01:15 PM
Infovore Infovore is offline
Confusing the polarity
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Somewhere fictional
Posts: 8,833
Quote:
Originally Posted by postcards View Post
How on earth do you do this? Chew on catnip yourself?
Check the pet store sites. They actually sell these.
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 10-27-2011, 12:21 PM
Mauvaise Mauvaise is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Malthus View Post
Seems to me that marking one's owner, and being affectionate, are not mutually exclusive.
And when she rubs against the wall or the side of the couch, is she also expressing affection for that object?

I don't mean to be contrary. I'm owned by a cat and volunteer with a rescue organization primarily on the cat side. I say this to show my cat-lover credentials.

Quote:
While no doubt each and every one of her acts has ulterior motives of some sort, the package of behaviours as a whole certainly appears to denote "affection".
Appears is the correct word. All (ok, maybe only most) animal lovers are guilty anthropomorphism when it comes to their pets. I do it even though I know better. There is nothing wrong with it as a whole (I won't get into why it can be detrimental because that's a different thread), but it also can be good to recognize what's at work when cats exhibit certain behaviours because then it can help you (collective) better understand your cat.

The reason why the tail quivering was described to me as true affection, perhaps the only behaviour that is, is because it's a body language thing. There is no claiming of territory, getting that itchy spot scratched, etc. It's purely a physical expression of the cat's happiness/excitement of the moment (for example: seeing you again after you've been gone awhile).
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 10-27-2011, 12:41 PM
Malthus Malthus is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mauvaise View Post
And when she rubs against the wall or the side of the couch, is she also expressing affection for that object?

I don't mean to be contrary. I'm owned by a cat and volunteer with a rescue organization primarily on the cat side. I say this to show my cat-lover credentials.
Well, no. Just as putting my arm around the back of a chair doesn't have the same meaning as putting my arm around my wife.

Surely, context matters for animals as much as people. Licking a lollipop is not the same as oral sex, even though the gesture is similar ...

Quote:
Appears is the correct word. All (ok, maybe only most) animal lovers are guilty anthropomorphism when it comes to their pets. I do it even though I know better. There is nothing wrong with it as a whole (I won't get into why it can be detrimental because that's a different thread), but it also can be good to recognize what's at work when cats exhibit certain behaviours because then it can help you (collective) better understand your cat.

The reason why the tail quivering was described to me as true affection, perhaps the only behaviour that is, is because it's a body language thing. There is no claiming of territory, getting that itchy spot scratched, etc. It's purely a physical expression of the cat's happiness/excitement of the moment (for example: seeing you again after you've been gone awhile).
How can one assign emotions such as happiness and excitement to a cat? How do you know they even feel these emotions at all? Perhaps they just *appear* to be affectionate, but if you are taking skepticism that far, why are you exempting tail-quivering?

Seems to me that if reading rubbing up against you, purring in your presence, rushing to be with you, seeking and giving cuddles as affectionate is some sort of fallacious anthromophism because the true emotional state of the animal is unknowable (and perhaps absent), the same goes double for such behaviours as tail-twitching. How can someonone on the on hand warn about "anthromorphism", and on the other insist that some gesture a cat makes displays "true affection"? It seems to me more consistent to state that nothing a cat does displays "true affection" (or better, that this state is unknowable in an animal).
Reply With Quote
  #31  
Old 10-27-2011, 07:25 PM
rocking chair rocking chair is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
5 out of 6 cats i have/d "tail quiver". the one that didn't had tummy troubles.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 05:12 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.