It’s no secret that cats tend to be more mysterious in their behaviours than dogs. While dogs are fairly good at expressing their wants and needs to humans, cats are notoriously difficult to read.

However, veterinary experts say that paying attention to a cat’s tail movements is the key to revealing their mood or intentions. Dr Carlo Siracusa, an assistant professor of veterinary medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, also says that paying attention to their whole body, and not just their tails will be even more beneficial when figuring out what they want.

For example, if your cat appears to be sleeping but is tapping its tail, this could either mean they are ‘relaxed overall but paying attention to something around him, a sound or movement,’ said Dr Siracusa, or they could just be dreaming.

A cat with a whipping tail can mean it’s on alert, nervous or potentially aggressive, and should not be aggrivated or touched.

On a calm cat, a straight tail and hooked tip is a greeting, while an aggressive cat’s tail may just be straight-up.

Cats that are afraid of something tend to have an arched back while their tails are up with their fur puffed up.

If a tail is curved downwards, it can mean that the cat is defensive, while a relaxed cat usually maintains its tail in a low, neutral position.

While tail movements can be confusing to read, a cat’s movements can help in reading their mood. For example, when a cat suddenly bolts to another room, this energy is probably an outlet for accumulated frustration, fear or energy.

Cats need stimulation and would be chasing prey and climbing up trees if they mostly spent time outside, explains Dr Siracusa.