Your cat has a trembling tail 

Is this harmful?

If your cat often has a trembling tail, this does not necessarily mean that there is something wrong with it. In most cases, cats with a trembling tail simply express a form of body language to show that they are happy. But in some cases, your cat may have a trembling tail when he feels sick or is stressed. In this article we explain how you can find out what is causing your cat’s tail to tremble.

cat trembling tail
Siamese kat trilt flink met zijn staart als zijn baasje terug komt

What does it mean when a cat has a trembling tail?

When a cat has a trembling tail, it can have different meanings. Depending on the situation and your cat’s posture. Usually, your cat’s tail trembling is a form of body language. So a form of communication. A cat that has a trembling tail while standing upright and walking toward its owner usually expresses happiness and excitement. This trembling behaviour is often seen when a cat ‘greets’ his human. You can compare it to the smile that we humans show when we see someone we know. So it is usually a sign of affection or satisfaction.

On the other hand, a cat that has a trembling tail while his body adopts a defensive or fearful posture may be feeling stress, anxiety, or irritation. In such cases, a tail trembling is a sign that your cat feels threatened. He may need some time and space for himself at that moment.

It’s also possible that if your cat’s tail is trembling, it indicates he wants to stake out his territory. He then claims, as it were, the space where he walks by vibrating his tail. He also often sprays against walls and surfaces at that time. Male cats in particular exhibit this behaviour, but female cats also do this.

Additionally, medical problems such as pain or neurological disorders can cause a cat to have a trembling tail. Therefore, it is important to carefully observe your cat’s behaviour and look for possible different body language and circumstances to discover the right reason behind the trembling. Is the trembling accompanied by other troubling symptoms? Or does it occur suddenly for no apparent reason? Then it is wise to consult with your vet and have your cat fully checked.

How do you recognise a trembling tail in your cat?

To understand the underlying cause of your cat’s tail trembling, you need to observe your cat closely. The trembling can range from a slight vibration of your cat’s tail to a fairly obvious rapid movement. However, it is not the same as the normal swishing movements cats make with their tails. A trembling tail is usually stiff and straight or slightly curved. It vibrates or quivers quickly from base to tip. This behaviour is clearly recognisable, especially if your cat is otherwise calm and moves purposefully. It is not a random swishing, but a controlled movement.

When does a cat have a trembling tail?

You often see this shaking tail behaviour when your cat greets you after a period of absence. In that case it is probably a sign of excitement and happiness. However, if the rest of your cat’s body is tense, his ears are laid back or his back is arched, the trembling tail may indicate fear, excitement or even aggression. Also pay attention to other signals such as repeatedly moving his ears, widening his pupils, tensing his body muscles or making sounds. Frequent grooming resulting in baldness is also often seen in cases of stress. By interpreting these signals together with the trembling of his tail, you can better judge what your cat is “saying”.

Of course, every cat is unique and behaviour varies per cat. The more you watch your cat, the more you will understand what he is expressing with his body language.


Your cat has a trembling tail but is not spraying

We already mentioned that many cats can mark their territory by spraying. They can also have a trembling tail while spraying. Does your cat not spray (that would be nice), but does it vibrate its tail? Then the question is whether he simply greets you or someone else happily or whether he suffers from stress or anxiety. If your cat regularly has a trembling tail and appears a bit stressed, you can help it with the treatments we discuss later in this article.


Kat trilt met zijn staart terwijl hij aan het sproeien is en dus zijn territorium afzet.
Kat met een staart die stijf omhoog staat

When should you worry about your cat’s tail trembling?

Trembling tail in cats is normal behaviour in most cases. However, there are situations where this behaviour is a manifestation of a medical problem. Especially when the trembling is accompanied by other unusual or disturbing symptoms besides the trembling of your cat’s tail, which your cat normally does not exhibit.

If your cat has a trembling tail while also showing signs of pain, such as meowing, whining, loss of appetite, or difficulty moving, it could indicate a medical problem. For example, pain in his tail, pain in his bladder or nausea. Additionally, if the tail trembling is new or intense, such as uncontrollable or constant twitching, it could be a sign of neurological problems. These are conditions that come from his brain or nerves. For example, we sometimes see this in case of poisoning. For example, when applying flea treatment for dogs to your cat or certain types of weed killers.

Other worrisome signs to look out for are behavioral changes such as aggression, withdrawal, or excessive screaming. These signals indicate stress, anxiety or illness.

If you notice that your cat has a trembling tail and also shows other symptoms, it is wise to visit a vet. This can check your cat and determine possible causes of the shaking behaviour. An appropriate treatment can then be devised.

Treatment to help your cat have less stress and anxiety

Before treating cats with a trembling tail, it is important to determine the underlying cause of the trembling. If a trembling tail is caused by emotions such as excitement or mild nervousness, some simple strategies can help calm your cat. However, if you suspect that the trembling is a symptom of pain, illness or severe anxiety, you should consult a veterinarian first. Below we will tell you more about some solutions that can help reduce excitement, stress and nervousness. They therefore ensure that your cat will less often have a trembling tail.

Create a calm environment

It seems a bit simple, but it helps very well in most cases. Give your cat space to retreat in a quiet and peaceful environment. That space should be warm and comfortable. Place a nice warm blanket or bed for him and, if necessary, put on some quiet music for him. In general, you can use quiet classical music, instrumental music (especially with string instruments) and nature sounds. A study conducted by Amanda Hampton, Alexandra Ford, Roy E Cox III, Chin-chi Liu and Ronald Koh showed that cats experience significantly less stress when they are in a room with classical music. Your cat will therefore have a trembling tail considerably less often.


Cat bed in order to reduce stress
cd with relaxing music for cats.

Maintain a strickt daily routine

Cats are creatures of habit and generally thrive on routine. If your cat is a stress-sensitive type, it is important to maintain a regular daily rhythm to reduce the trembling tail in your cat. So feeding, playing, resting and cuddling at the same time every day helps him reduce his stress and anxiety. It should actually be as boring as possible for your cat! Some cats appear to become stressed by the unpredictability of their day, according to an article written by Marta Amat, Tomàs Camps and Xavier Manteca. By removing that unpredictability from their lives, they will suffer less from stress.

Provide exercise and mental challenge

The fact that a daily routine should preferably be as boring as possible does not mean that your cat doesn’t need exercise. It has been shown in humans that exercise ensures that the body can cope better with stress and therefore suffer less from stress. No such studies have yet been conducted in cats, but given their anatomy and comparable neurological system, it is very likely that cats also cope better with stress if they exercise for at least 45 minutes every day. That is why it is advisable to purchase interactive toys so that your cat gets exercise. Give him these toys at approximately the same time every day to maintain the aforementioned routine. Try to make sure he’s actively running around for at least 45 minutes a day. There is a good chance that your cat will have a less trembling tail after a week or two.


interactive cat toy

Stress reducing objects

Some cats really enjoy chewing on matatabi sticks or cat grass. Or play with catnip. According to research by S. Bol, many cats appear to respond to this, but certainly not all. So it’s up to you to find out what makes your cat happy and will play with it. Even though some cats become completely wild and hyperactive from these products, they still reduce stress in the long term for most cats. In this case too, your cat will probably start trembling his tail considerably less after a week or two.


matatabi sticks for cats
cat grass

Feliway, Zylkène or Calm diet

Are the above given tips insufficiently effective against your cat’s tail trembling? Then it is wise to make your cat’s brain less sensitive to stress. Zylkène and the calm diet from Royal Canin contain many substances that are the building blocks of the hormone Serotonin. Serotonin is the substance in the brain that ensures that you feel good about yourself. That you don’t have depressive feelings. By giving your cat Zylkène or the Calm diet, you will start to notice after about a week or 2 that your cat suffers less from stress. Even though the source of the stress is still present, he is less agitated by it, so to speak. But of course they are not miracle cures! And no narcotics either.

Feliway is also an option to try. This is even allowed at the same time as Zylkène or the Calm diet. Feliway releases a pheromone (comparable to a fragrance) into the air. This pheromone resembles the pheromone originally released from their mother’s mammary glands and gave them a safe and soothing feeling as kittens. By imitating this you also ensure this feeling for your cat in its current life. However, it is imperative that the room in which you use this product is not excessively ventilated and not too large. Otherwise, the air in that room will not get the right concentration of pheromones and will not work enough to make your cat tremble his tail less. 

royal canin calm diet

Good luck!

Hopefully, if your cat approaches you with a twitching tail, it is basically just a happy greeting. But do you still have the feeling that he is suffering from stress? Then hopefully our advice will work to offer him some more peace and relaxation. Good luck with your treatment and get well soon for your cat!