Why Do Cats Have Tails?

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Cats are one of the most commonly domesticated companions of humans and have been for centuries. They have the features of a wild cat, but many of these features have been adapted for their life as a house cat.

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Why Do Cats Have Tails?

Besides their alert and pointy ears, one of their most distinguishing features is their sleek (or poofy!) tails. But why do cats have tails? In this article, we will be looking into just that!

There are many reasons why cats have tails and it’s not just to make them look extra adorable. We will go into the specifics of why cats have tails and what they use them for in this article.

» Check out these adorable cats with fluffy tails!


One of the most well-known reasons cats have tails is because it helps them with their balance, and they are well known for how good their balance is. This is where the well known axiom that cats have nine lives comes from. Their unique ability to balance and counterbalance their weight.

2 cats fighting

Cats spend a lot of their time jumping up on high surfaces, many of which are quite narrow, such as fences or shelves. 

Their tail helps them to counterbalance so they do not fall, and that’s how they can so gracefully walk across surfaces that humans would struggle with.

If they do fall, however, their tail helps them to flip over before they reach the ground. Hence why cats are known for “always landing on their feet.”

Cat’s tails also help them balance when they are walking or running, it helps them when they change direction, shift their weight, and helping them realign their body quickly.


Cats also use their tails to communicate. If you pay attention to the behavior of their tail, you can work out what it is they are trying to say to you. 

cat scared with puffed up tail

If your cat’s tail is puffed up, this is usually an indication that it is feeling agitated or even scared and it’s best to leave them alone. 

If the tail is upright and held high, this is a good indication that your cat is happy and willing for you to approach them. 

If it is curved beneath their body with their paws hidden behind it, your cat could be feeling a bit nervous or submissive. In this situation, it is best to just leave your cat alone and wait for it to come to you. 

There are lots of different tail positions your cat can and will make. Learning your cat’s personality and the way they respond with these different tail positions will help you know what it is your cat is trying to say. 

Why Do Some Cats Not Have a Tail?

cat with cropped tail

Although tails are quite important to cats, some breeds have evolved to be able to live without them. 

The Manx is one of the most well-known breeds that function just fine without a tail. They don’t have tails because of a genetic mutation, possibly related to the inbreeding of British Shorthairs on the Isle of Man.

Manx cats function just as well without their tail and have no issues with balance because they have adapted to their mutation. 

Other cats do not have tails because they’ve had to have them amputated because of accidents. 

What Happens If My Cat Loses Its Tail?

Tails may be a pivotal part of a cat’s life, but if you’re ever worried about your cat losing its tail, you don’t have to be concerned! 

Cats are intelligent creatures, and if they ever lose their tail, they will quickly adapt to that situation. Cats are agile by nature and even without a tail, they’ll still move around gracefully and land on their feet if they fall.

Why Do Cats Have Tails?

Their adjustment period might feel a bit strange, but once they’ve regained their momentum, they’ll be acting like their true selves in no time. 

The only issue you might have if your cat no longer has its tail is communication.

It won’t be as easy to know how they’re feeling, but you can always look at other body languages they are showing, such as what they are doing with their ears, or how the hair on their body is positioned.

For example, if the hair on the back of their neck is all ruffled up, this is usually an indication that they don’t want to be approached. 

What Happens If A Cat Breaks Its Tail?

As a cat’s tail is connected to its spine, a tail break can be quite a painful experience for a cat. Tail breaks can happen for many reasons, including accidentally being stepped on or getting trapped in a door. 

But fortunately for your cat, breaking their tail 9 times out of 10 means they will heal. A cat’s tail heals really well.

Cat reaching up owners leg

How long it takes to heal depends purely on the severity and positioning of the break, but with enough time, your cat’s tail will heal and they usually don’t need much assistance, as the tail can heal on its own. 

If you’re concerned about the way your cat has broken or fractured its tail though, always take them to a veterinarian to be looked over.

Sometimes the breaks aren’t as clean, and on these occasions, part of the tail may have to be amputated. But this is why it’s always important to let your cat’s veterinarian check them if a break has happened. 

Momma cat with her baby


So the main reasons cats have tails is because of balance and communication.

And if your cat loses their tail, you do not have to worry about them not being able to live life to the fullest, because they most definitely will! 

Cats are very adaptable and self-sufficient animals, and their tails are very important to them, so they will always look after them as best as they can.

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