Do Sphynx Cats Wag Their Tails?

Sphynx cats are an exceptionally affectionate cat breed, and certain tail gestures that may resemble a wagging tail are commonly seen in this breed.

Sphynxes have been ranked as the most affectionate cat breed in a 2012 study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior. So could it be true that they wag their tails as a loving gesture to their owners?

Sphynx cats will quiver their tails when excited or very happy, which may resemble a wagging tail, similar to a happy dog wagging its tail. Cats also twitch their tail from side to side when playful or intrigued.

Some people think they are unattractive, and some are fascinated by their regal looks. Sphynx cats are affectionate and goofy. Some people even say that sphynx cats’ personalities are more similar to a dog than a cat.

Some animal ethologists believe that Sphynx cats are so affectionate because they rely entirely on humans for food and shelter. This is because sphynxes have higher calorie requirements and are more vulnerable to the elements than their furry feline counterparts.

What A Sphynx’s Tail Wants To Tell You

A cat’s tail can tell you a lot about her mood, intentions, and what she is thinking. Whoever said that cats don’t speak just never learned how to interpret the language of a cat’s tail!

Below is a handy diagram showing the general meaning of different tail gestures in cats for your reference. In this article, we will focus on the tail gestures that resemble a wagging tail in Sphynxes.

Even though Sphynxes cannot puff their tails, as seen in the first and last pictures in this diagram, cats will often pull their ears back (point backward or pull flat against their head) to convey negative emotions such as fear or anger.

Variations Of The Tail Wag

1. Tail Straight Up In The Air

Nothing warms my heart more than coming home to see my kitties running toward me with tails in the air. Cats will often keep their tails straight up when happily greeting someone familiar.

This is a universal cat behavior and is even seen in the cubs and juveniles of wild big cats such as lions and tigers (the adults will do this less readily due to the sheer length of their tails).

Did you know that a tom cat’s tail is on average 1 inch longer than a queen’s?

2. The Tail Quiver

This behavior is typical in sphynx cats when they are extremely happy or excited. Some Sphynxes will routinely do this when greeting their owner or at meal times.

The tail is usually held straight up in the air with a ‘vibrating’ motion near the base of the tail. Similar to what male cats will do when urine spraying, however, the happy tail quiver is not associated with urine spraying (thankfully!).

See the video below for an example of this type of behavior.

The happy tail quiver. Although not a sphynx in the video, this behavior is common for Sphynx cats.

Since Sphynx cats are rated the most affectionate cat breed, it is not surprising that the happy tail quiver is a typical Sphynx behavior reserved for their favorite humans (or favorite food).

Not all Sphynx cats will express this behavior as temperament differs between cats. So don’t worry too much if your Sphynx does not do the tail quiver. They likely have many other ways they express their affection towards you.

3. The Tail Tip Twitch

The tail tip twitch is a quick back and forth flick of the tip of the tail. This is often seen when cats are either slightly irritated or frustrated by something or similarly when cats are fascinated by something. It can be a sign of playfulness or annoyance.

It is, therefore, best to interpret the tail twitch in the given situation a cat finds itself in. For example, if a cat is twitching the tip of its tail while watching another cat walk through the yard outside, she is annoyed. But when she twitches the end of her tail when you bring out the feather toy, she is enjoying the game.

4. The Tail Swish

The tail swish is usually a slower side-to-side motion often seen when a cat is about to pounce or concentrating on something.

This can be interpreted as ambivalence in a particular situation. They may be unsure whether what they are about to do is a good idea or thinking deeply about something. For example: “Should I pounce now, or wait for just a little longer?” or “What would I do if I could get to that bird on the other side of the window?”.

This video shows a combination of the tail swish and the tail tip twitch. This tom is likely intrigued by the birds outside but also feeling slightly frustrated that he cannot get to them.


Sphynx cats are fascinatingly unique not only in their looks but also in their extreme friendliness and affection toward their owners – and they often show this using their tails!

As a cat owner, it is vital to be able to interpret different tail gestures as this will help you understand your cat better. In turn, you will be able to enjoy a more rewarding relationship with your feline friend.


Dr. Annerien de Villiers

Dr. Annerien de Villiers graduated as a veterinarian from the University of Pretoria in 2018. She has since worked full-time in clinical practice tending to all kinds of companion animals in general practice. Serving the human-animal bond with care and compassion and making accurate information accessible to pet owners is at the heart of her driving force as a veterinarian.

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