If you’ve ever seen your Bengal cat’s tail moving back and forth, you may have wondered, “Why do Bengal cats wag their tails?”
The truth is, there are a number of reasons that a Bengal cat may be moving their tail, and you generally have to look at the cat as a whole to figure out what it means, since cats rely on more than just their tails to express themselves.
In this post, we will cover the following:
One of the reasons why Bengal cats wag their tails is because they’re happy. When a Bengal cat is approaching a person or animal that they consider a friend, they will often do it with a friendly wag of their tail. This type of tail wag is usually a slow, sweeping movement, though it may also be a bit faster if they are particularly excited about who they’re approaching.
Along with having a tail that’s wagging slowly, a happy Bengal cat will also have ears that are facing forward, eyes looked eagerly toward what’s making them happy, and may be making noise like purring or meowing. When you put all these things together, it’s easy to tell when a Bengal cat is happy for more than just a tail wag.
Here, you can see a happy Bengal cat wagging his tail and talking to his owner:
On the other hand, a Bengal cat will also wag their tail when they’re mad. This is also referred to as flashing or flickering their tail, depending on how much of the tail is moving and how fast it’s moving. Typically, the more quickly a Bengal cat’s tail is moving and the more of their tail is moving will indicate how upset they are.
When a Bengal cat is mildly annoyed or upset about something, you might only see the end of their tail flickering a bit, or they may only do a couple of quick wags with their whole tail. If you are doing something that is annoying your Bengal, use this as a sign that you need to back off before making them more upset.
A mildly-annoyed cat may also put their ears slightly back and their pupils could dilate slightly. They will typically keep an eye on whatever is annoying them, but may turn their head away from it. Sometimes, they will also put up a paw or begin to assume a defensive position, just in case. Other times they will simply walk away from the source of their annoyance.
If a Bengal cat gets severely annoyed and extremely upset, then you will typically see a much more obvious flashing of the tail. If the cat is lying down on the floor or near something solid, you will sometimes hear the thumping sound made because of how quickly their tail is moving. As with any mood, you need to also look at the rest of the cat.
A cat that is wagging their tail because they are angry is often ready to use physical force to stop whatever is annoying or threatening it. Their ears will be much further back on their head, possibly even invisible from the front, and their pupils will be fully dilated so that their eyes appear to change color. They may be hissing, growling, or making other noises that are a clear warning sign that they want to be left alone.
When a Bengal gets to this point, they will be ready to attack if whatever is annoying them continues. They will usually be crouched down so they can spring into action, and sometimes have a paw in the air as a warning that they will swat at the threat if necessary. They may also hold their mouth open as a warning that they will bite if provoked.
In this case, it’s important to do something to prevent you, another person, or a pet from getting harmed. Leave your Bengal cat alone and let them have space and time to relax and feel safe again. Usually it won’t take long for them to calm down when they see that you’re respecting their space.
Here, you can see an angry Bengal cat whose owner clearly missed the flashing tail and keeps bugging her:
In some cases, you may see some tail wagging when a Bengal cat is scared, but the more obvious sign that your cat is afraid is that their tail will be bushy. This is because a cat instinctively raises the hair on their tails when they’re in danger because it can make them look bigger and possibly scare away a predator that’s trying to get them.
Bengal cats will usually also have the hair along their back standing up when they’re afraid to help make them look even bigger and they will turn sideways towards whatever they feel is threatening them to try to scare them away. Their ears will also be back and their pupils will be dilated. Sometimes, there will be some tail wagging thrown in, but it’s usually a slower movement compared to when a cat is upset.
Many Bengal cats will also display this same behavior when they are playing. The best way to tell the difference is that when they’re playing, the fur along their back usually doesn’t stand up, and they are usually quiet or making soft trilling noises. They will also usually be obviously playing with something, whether it’s one of their favorite toys, another cat, or your foot.
Here is a video of two cats showing what Bengals look like when they’re scared, even though these two beautiful sisters are actually just playing:
As you can see, Bengal cats wag their tails for a variety of reasons, so it’s important to look at the cat as a whole when determining their mood instead of just their tails. In most cases, Bengals are either happy, mad, afraid, or playing when they’re wagging their tails.