cat's tail swell

Why does my cat’s tail swell?

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Many of you may have seen a cat with its tail puffed up like a raccoon dog.

In this article, we will explain the mechanism and role of a cat’s tail swelling, the feelings of a cat that can be understood from the swelling tail, and how to deal with it. To maintain a good relationship with your cat, let’s know.

Why does my cat’s tail swell?

Let’s take a look at why a cat’s tail swells, starting with how it swells and its role.

How a cat’s tail expands

Cats don’t consciously puff out their tails. When the tail is swollen, the muscles in the tail called the pili muscle contract, and the hair reflexively stands on end.

The pili muscle is linked to the sympathetic nerves that control emotions. When they are angry or surprised, their muscles are stimulated, causing their hair to stand on end and their tails to swell.

Role of the tail

A cat’s tail has a very important function:

  • Keep your body balanced when going up and down high places or walking on unstable surfaces.
  • When it’s cold, it keeps its body warm by curling its tail like a scarf.
  • There are scent glands in the tail, which serves as a marking.
  • Emotions are expressed with various movements and shapes of the tail.

Read Also: Can cats and hedgehogs live together?

Does the swelling change depending on the type of cat?

Cats have short tails and long tails depending on the type, and the shape and swelling of the tail is different.

short-tailed cat breed

The short-tailed cat is the Japanese Bobtail. It features a cute pom-pom-like tail. The American Bobtail and Exotic Shorthair also have short curly tails.
Just like long-tailed cats, short-tailed cats also use their tails to express their emotions. If the tail is standing up, it is expressing happiness, and if it is standing on end, it is in a state of excitement. Its short tail can make it a little difficult to read.

cat with long tail

Cat breeds with long tails often have short hair. The Russian Bull has an impressive long tail. Siamese cats have long, thin tails, while hairless sphinxes have long, whip-like tails. The short curly Cornish Rex also has a very long tail.

Cats with long tails are easier to read emotions from the movement of the tail. You can stand up straight, sway it, swell it up, and express your emotions in an easy-to-understand manner.

Cat’s feelings can be understood from the tail

When a cat’s tail bulges, it is mainly when it is surprised, intimidated, or alarmed. From the situation and appearance at that time, you can read the feelings of the cat.


When a cat is frightened and startled, its tail puffs up and the hair on its back stands on end. It’s the same as when humans startle their bodies.

Intimidating behavior

Cats are highly territorial animals. When intruded into its territory, it raises its tail and puffs it up to threaten the opponent, as if to say, “Get out of the territory!” By bristling not only the tail but also the hair on the whole body, it makes itself look bigger and appeals to strength.

i feel scared

Cats also puff out their tails when they are frightened. At first glance, it looks like it ‘s surprised, but the difference is that its swollen tail hangs down between its hind legs. You can guess from the situation and the condition of the tail.

showing rejection

If you try to take him to a place where he doesn’t like it, if his tail puffs up, he may be showing a refusal reaction. It is often seen when taken to the hospital or when giving a bath. It’s also necessary for your cat’s health, so give a treat or other treat after you’re done.


When playing with a toy, the tail may bulge out of excitement. In this case, you are not angry, but you are in a high mood. The cat is playing in an excited state, so the owner should pay attention to the surroundings and the state of the cat.

What to do when the tail swells and how to deal with it

If your cat’s tail is swollen, gently step away and see what happens. Don’t try to touch the cat’s body to calm it down. You may be attacked instead. It is important to wait quietly until the cat’s anger or excitement subsides.

Cats are very sensitive and timid animals. It reacts sensitively to loud sounds and voices, and shows strong vigilance. Make sure your cat is as calm and comfortable as possible.

Aren’t you worried about the disease if the tail swells?

A cat’s tail puffs up not only when it’s expressing emotion. It is also possible that you have a disease called pyelonephritis. Pycnodenitis is a skin disease that develops on the tail, and the main causes are excessive secretion from the tail gland and bacterial infection.

In addition to the swollen tail, if the base of the tail is sticky or has an unusual odor, pygma is suspected. Please see your local veterinarian.

Uncastrated males, purebred cats, and long-haired breeds such as Persian and Siamese cats are prone to pygmy catitis. Treatment involves washing away sebum with shampoo, etc., and administering antibiotics if inflammation occurs.


A cat’s tail is a reflex action caused by the contraction of the pili muscle, which is linked to the sympathetic nerve. Cats use their tails to express various emotions. When the tail is swollen, it often indicates surprise, threat, excitement, or rejection. Try to read the feelings of your cat from the situation and appearance at that time.

A cat’s tail is a barometer of emotion. You can deepen your communication with your cat by observing it regularly and understanding its feelings.

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