Why Do Cats Wag Their Tails While Purring?

Have you ever wondered why cats wag their tails while purring? It may seem strange, but it’s actually quite normal. Let’s look at the science behind it to understand why cats do this.

Cats are social creatures and use their tail as a way of communicating with other cats and people. When they wag their tails while purring, they’re sending a message that they’re content and healthy.

This encourages people or other cats to come closer and interact with them. So why do cats wag their tails when purring?

The answer lies in the biology of cats. Their brain has an organ called the vomeronasal organ (VNO).

This organ detects pheromones, which are animal chemicals that influence behaviour. The sound of a cat’s purr stimulates the VNO, sending signals to the cat’s brain that make them feel relaxed and contented – which is then expressed by tail-wagging.

If your cat starts wagging its tail while purring, take it as a sign that they feel secure around you.

Why Do Cats Wag Their Tails While Purring?

It can be confusing for pet owners, as they try to decipher their cat’s feelings.

Here, we’ll take a closer look at why cats wag their tails when purring and how to understand your cat’s body language. Cats have a unique way of expressing themselves, one of which is tail wagging.

Generally, if your cat is feeling curious or excited, they will wag their tail slowly from side to side. Alternatively, if they are feeling threatened or scared, they will wag it rapidly.

When combined with purring, it could mean that your cat is feeling conflicted or uncertain about something. Purring usually means that your cat is relaxed and contented.

They may be cuddling with you or lounging in their favorite spot. However, when purring, cats may also wag their tails because they are overstimulated or trying to communicate something with you.

For instance, if a cat is sitting down and purring while also wagging its tail, it might be asking for attention or affection. It’s important to note that not all cats wag their tails when purring and not all cats purr when they are happy or relaxed.


While this may seem like an odd combination, cats do this for a specific reason.

When cats become overstimulated, they will wag their tails, which can happen during playtime or when they receive too much attention. It’s important to recognize the signs of overstimulation in cats so you can give them the break they need and let them relax.

When a cat is overstimulated, their body language will change quickly. They may arch their back, flatten their ears, and their pupils may dilate.

Tail wagging is also a classic sign of cat overstimulation. If a cat’s tail is wagging fast or aggressively, combined with other signs of overstimulation, it’s essential to provide them with some space and allow them to calm down.

Overstimulation in cats can be hard to identify at first glance, but understanding your cat’s body language can help you figure out when they are feeling overwhelmed.


Although cats cannot speak in the same way that humans do, they have their own unique way of expressing themselves. Tails are one of a cat’s body’s most visible features, and understanding how they move can provide valuable insight into how cats are feeling.

Have you ever noticed your cat purring and wagging its tail? This is a common behavior among cats, and it usually means that they are feeling contentment and relaxation.

When cats wag their tails, it’s usually because they feel comfortable in their environment or with the people around them. It’s important to keep in mind that cats don’t always communicate in the same way, so it is essential to observe other behaviors to gain a full understanding of the situation.

When you talk to your cat, they may also wag their tails, which is another form of communication. They could be listening intently to what you’re saying or conveying their mood through the way their tail moves.

Cats can also wag their tails quickly or slowly, which can have different meanings. A fast wag may indicate excitement or agitation, while a slower wag can be a sign of relaxation or contentment.

Why Do Cats Wag Their Tails While Purring-2

When petting your cat, it is also essential to pay attention to how their tail moves. Some cats might swish their tails when being petted, which can be an indication that they are becoming overstimulated or annoyed.

Other cats might have a fluffy tail when being petted, which usually signifies contentment and relaxation.

Not All Cats Wag Their Tails While Purring

Surprisingly, not all cats wag their tails when purring – something I can confirm as an expert on cat behavior. While some cats may express their pleasure and affection through tail wagging when they are feeling content, others may not do so at all.

The reason for this variation could be due to differences in personality and temperament among cats. Some cats are more vocal and playful, and they may show their joy and admiration through tail wagging, while others are more reserved and may express their contentment in other ways such as lying peacefully by your side.

It is also important to note that tail wagging can have different meanings depending on the context. While a slow, gentle wag may signify happiness and relaxation, a fast and frantic wag could indicate agitation or annoyance.

Therefore, we should pay attention to other body language and vocalizations to interpret what our cats are trying to communicate.

Not All Cats Purr When Happy or Relaxed

It can be confusing when cats don’t purr when they’re happy or relaxed, but there are many reasons why cats may purr that go beyond simply being content.

Knowing why cats purr can help us better understand our feline friends. One theory is that purring is a self-soothing mechanism for cats.

Endorphins, which act as natural painkillers, are released while they purr and can help them to relax and reduce stress, even if they are feeling discomfort or pain. In addition, cats may also use their purrs as a form of communication.

For example, a mother cat may purr to her kittens to indicate that she is present and attentive, while a cat may also purr to signal to its owner that it needs attention or food. In these cases, the purring does not necessarily mean the cat is happy or relaxed.

Ultimately, each cat is unique and has its own way of expressing itself through vocalizations and tail movements.

Other Reasons for Tail Wagging and Purring

Tail wagging and purring are often associated with a cat’s emotional state, but there are other possible explanations for why cats may exhibit these behaviors. For instance, medical issues such as hyperthyroidism or asthma can cause excessive purring in rare cases.

Cats may also wag their tails due to pain or discomfort. Furthermore, cats use body language to communicate with their owners and other animals; a tail wag could signify a desire to play or a warning that the cat is feeling threatened.

Additionally, cats may purr while grooming themselves or others as a way to soothe themselves or signal affection; even if the cat is anxious or stressed, purring can still indicate contentment. It’s important to be mindful of your cat’s behavior and body language in order to better understand them.

While tail wagging and purring may have different meanings depending on the situation, observing your cat’s overall behavior and context can provide useful insights into what they’re trying to tell you.

Understanding Your Cat’s Body Language and Vocalizations

It’s important to observe and interpret our furry friends’ behavior in order to ensure they are happy and comfortable.

From their tail position to their purrs, cats communicate in a variety of ways. Let’s start with the tail – this is an important tool for cats when it comes to communication.

If a cat is wagging its tail while purring, it may be feeling conflicted; happy and wanting attention, but also overstimulated or irritated. However, if the tail is wagging quickly, this could be a sign of agitation or annoyance.

Cats may also wag their tails when being talked to; this could signify excitement or interest in the conversation. When cats are being petted, they may swish their tails back and forth.

This can mean that they are enjoying the attention but may need a break if they become overstimulated. On the other hand, some cats will puff up their tails while purring; this usually indicates happiness and contentment.

Consulting with a Veterinarian

Consulting a veterinarian is always the best way to ensure your cat is healthy and happy.

After all, cats can be mysterious creatures and it’s not always easy to understand their behaviour.

If you’re ever worried about something new or unusual that your cat is doing, such as tail wagging or purring, your vet will be able to rule out any medical issues and provide helpful advice on how to properly care for them.

Your vet can also give insight into why your cat is displaying certain behaviors and how to address them. For instance, if your cat is wagging its tail while purring, it could be a sign of overstimulation or an attempt to communicate something with you.

Understanding these behaviors will help you provide the best care for your feline friend.

Additionally, if you’re looking into adopting a new cat or adding another one to the household, consulting with a veterinarian beforehand can help make sure there are no potential health concerns with the new addition and ensure a smooth transition.

Remember that your vet will be just as invested in keeping your cat safe and healthy as you are.

Also Read: Why Do Cats Wag Their Tails In Your Face? – 21Cats.org


In conclusion, cats have a special way of expressing themselves and connecting with their owners.

Knowing why cats wag their tails when purring can help us better understand our feline relatives. Generally, when cats wag their tails while purring, they are conveying contentment and healthiness.

However, it’s important to note other body language and vocalizations for a full understanding of the situation. Additionally, not all cats will wag their tails while purring or purr when they are excited or relaxed; this could be due to individual variations in personality and temperament among cats.

If ever you’re confused about your cat’s behaviour, consulting with a veterinarian is always the best way to provide them with quality care.