The Reasons Your Cat’s Curls It’s Tail Over Its Back

Cats have two distinct ways of communicating vocally, either by hissing when sending out a warning or meowing when happy or hungry, or using body language.

If your cat’s tail is curved over its back, it could be saying it is content and confident about its territory or it is feeling playful. By watching your cat’s tail you can tell its mood. A cat with their tail curved over its back is typically happy and receptive to affectionate advances. 

This article is going to decode cat language when the tail is curved over its back. It will also explore whether when a cat’s is tail curled over its back is behavior or it is genetic.

What Your Cat Says When Its Tail is Curved Over Its Back


1. It Wants to Play

When your cat shows up with its tail held upright, but with a question mark at the tip, it is saying it wants to spend some time and play with you.

This cat position signifies playfulness, and your cat will not relent trying toseek your attention until you relent, and play with it.

Typically, if your cat is holding its tail up like this, it will come to find you. If you cannot play, indulge your cat by letting it have a go at a favorite toy or the cat gym.


2. It Is Content

Usually,when a cat holds its tail upright over its back its saying they’re happy and content. In this case, the tip of the tail will twitch periodically curling into itself and unfolding to swish slowly at the tip.

When Sophia my cat does that, I liken it to a wave from a beauty queen at a pageant. It is a slow, deliberate wave, and her tail will then curl into an inward knot and then unfold and resume the slow wave. It is fascinating, even hypnotic to watch.


3. It Is Ready for Mating

This type of tail-over-the-back curl typically happens with a queen, the female cat, and it occurs when she is ready to mate.

It is part of lordosis, typical mating behavior. Your cat will go down on its forelegs with its chest to the ground. Then it will lift its rear into the air as its hind legs rhythmically tread in place like it is marching on its hind legs.

Your cat will curl its tail upwards, slightly over its back and to the side, lifting it out of place to expose its genital area. That is a sign that your queen is ready to mate.


4. It is Agitated

Sometimes if your cat is agitated, it may curl its tail upward and stand on its tip toes. This is a show of aggression, and if your cat exhibits this stance, it will quickly attack whatever is causing it distress.


A Cat Tail Curled Over the Back Can Be Genetic

Some cat breeds naturally develop curled tails. This tends to happen more often with mixed breed cats because their genes come from a larger pool with a wide range of many different traits. That makes it more likely for a curly tail to occur.

However, for a cat to have a curly tail, it needs to inherit the recessive curly tail gene from both its parents.

That means both the queen and the tomcat that mate must havea copy of the recessive curly tail.

For example, if only the mother has a curly tail gene and the father has a straight tail, the straight tail will be the dominant gene in the litter produced. And vice versa applies.

However, a tomcat and a queen with straight tails can produce a litter of kittens with curly tails. It just means that both cats  have the curly gene despite having straight tails.

Unfortunately, the gene responsible for a natural curly tail is not yet known, although there are studies on the feline genome trying to find out why it exists.


Cat Tails Curled Over Back Due to Genetics

In some cases, your cat may not have any say over its tail curling the way it does. Its tail may be genetically predisposed to stay that way. But not all cats have such genetics.

Here are some breeds that genetically have their tail curled over their backs.


i) The American Ringtail Cat

This is a friendly cat that has a distinct tail curling over its back. It is also known as the Ringtail-Sing-a-Ling breed.

The American ringtail cat is a descendant of a feral cat called Solomon that had a genetic mutation that resulted in its tail curling over its back. The owner of Solomon began a breeding program to reproduce cats with a similar tail.

Although the American Ringtail cat is still considered an experimental breed, several breeders have bred their cats with this breed to produce this genetic anomaly in various more readily available breeds.

Some of the breeds that have been crossed with this breed include American Shorthair and ragdoll cats.

The American Ringtail cat breed is on a registration-only status by the International Cat Association. It is considered a rare cat breed and is very difficult to find.

Its tail can uncurl to become straight if an American Ringtail  cat wants it to. That means that its tail has the full range of motion, and the mutation doesn’t cause the cats any pain. The curl also does not interfere with the balance of thesecats

Physical characteristics of the breed include short to medium hair, long, large and muscular body, and they come in all colors and patterns.


ii) Scottish Fold Cat Breed

The Scottish Fold cat breed has a few members with tails curled over their back owing to a genetic mutation known as osteochondrodysplasia.

This condition typically affects the breed’s ears causing them to curl on their heads.

The way the folded ears look has endeared this breed with a lot of people. But unfortunately, this is a degenerative joint disease that can have varying degrees of pain for the cat, depending on how severe the mutation is.

In most cases, Scottish Folds experience this disease in the ankles, knees, and of course, their ears.

However, many cats in this breed also encounter the condition in their tails. It causes the tail to curl upward over the back, and it becomes stiff and painful.

When this mutation affects their tail, it results in the cat having a decreased range of motion.

At birth, these cats do not exhibit the mutation. They have straight ears and tails. But, by the time they are 21 days old, you will begin to notice the transformation on the ears. It is crucial to monitor their tails to ascertain whether it will be affected as well.

A Scottish Fold with a curled tail is not a common occurrence, but they do exist.


When To Worry About a Cat Tail Curled Over back

Under normal circumstances, a naturally occurring curly tail on a cat should not be of concern. It may be just the way the tail falls. You can afford to play it down like you would the coat color or vocalization tendencies of various breeds.

But there are times when a tail curled over the back signifies a health condition. Here are times when you should be concerned:


a) If the Cat is At An Awkward Angle

If your cat is holding its tail upward at an awkward angle, then it is likely that it may have injured the appendage. Also, look out for any other significant injuries on the body.

The curl could be because of a dislocation or a fracture of one of the bones in the tail. A cat’s tail features 19 to 21 tail bones known as caudal bones.

If acat has injured its tail, it will have limited movements. Your cat may also exhibit aggressive behavior, or it may hiss or meow constantly.


b) If the Cat’s Tail is Stiff

A condition like osteochondrodysplasia comes in various degrees of degenerative pain, resulting in stiffness and discomfort.

Your cat’s tail may not move like it usually should because the condition causes stiffness.

In this case, it is essential to limit touching the tail even when inspecting it. The less you interact with the tail, the less likely you are to cause further discomfort to your cat.


c) If Your Cat Has a Limited Range of Motion

If your cat naturally has a curly tail, it should be able to straighten it. Ifyou notice your cat cannot move its tail as it typically would, and its tail remains upright, and in one place, you should take it to the vet.

Limited range of motion of a cat’s tail should not be ignored.

The sooner you go to the vet, the sooner you find out the problem and alleviate your cat’s discomfort.


Other Curly Cat Tail Positions You Should Know

Cat Tail Curled Around You or Another Cat

If your cat curls its tail around you, it is showing you that it loves you. That means that the cat trusts you and welcomes you into its space. You are a friend and a confidant.

You can respond by scratching your cat at its favorite spot.

You may also notice your cat wraps its tail and body around another cat is the same gesture of friendship and trust.


Cat Tail Curled Around Its Own Body

This is a protective stance. Your cat is afraid and because of the fear, it is protecting its vitals. There may be something in the environment that is stressing them. Remove the stressor so that your cat feels comfortable and calm again.

Sometimes the cat may fall asleep in this position if it is in an unfamiliar environment.



By curling its tail over it’s back your cat’s is trying to tell you something behavioral or health-related..Or sometimes it is just genetics at play.

If a curled tail is a result of genetics and it poses no hindrance to the cat’s movement and bodily functions, then there is nothing to worry about..

Unfortunately, it could be a result of a mutation that has health ramifications.

As a cat parent, your role is to ascertain which type of tail curl you are dealing with and adapt accordingly.

Writer: Mercy Nandika Amatieku

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