Long flexible whip or fluffy fox – any tail, undoubtedly, is the most noticeable “decoration” of a cat. But Nature – an indefatigable dreamer and a brilliant scientist in one person – probably did not just endow the animals with this part of the skeleton. Let’s understand why a cat needs a tail and like a mustachioed touch does use this valuable gift of evolution.
What is a tail?
The spine of the cat consists of the cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral department – familiar, is not it? But then we see the difference between a man and a cat: where we have the coccygeal part, the cats have a tail – one more part of the spine. The structure of the cat’s tail is quite simple: the first and largest vertebra is connected to the sacrum, the next vertebrae become thinner and shorter, and so on until the last, very small vertebra of the tip of the tail.
Normally, between the vertebrae, there are articular slits that are filled with a gelatinous substance that acts as a lubricant – that’s why cats wag their tail in any direction, they can curve their tail up or sideways without risking injury and without discomfort.
The number of vertebrae is from 20 to 27 pieces, the length of the tail is from 20 to 40 cm. The Siamese cat waves its tail long and thin, because she herself is a slender and elongated athlete. The Persian lady of square format, dense and stocky, boasts a thick and shortish tail. Such harmony is obvious and necessary, because one of the reasons why cats wag their tail is an attempt to keep their balance.
Tail and balancing
“He’s like a cat: no matter what happens, it always lands on four paws,” they say of a man who will find a way out of the most difficult situation. Scientists around the world are closely studying this ability of cats and even apply the knowledge gained in areas related to the study of aerodynamics. Thanks to the development of photographic equipment, zoologists have found out why a cat pulls its tail during a fall – by maneuvering this part of the body, an unsurpassed balancing actor helps himself to take the right pose for a spectacular landing.
And what about the animals that have no tail by nature or by coincidence? After all, they do not spank from the tree, but also elegantly land, although without the help of the tail. Because of this fact, some zoologists even began to doubt whether the position of the tail in the cat at the moment of falling is of decisive importance. However, there are two circumstances that do not allow us to doubt that the cat really actively uses the tail to maintain equilibrium.
The first: a cat without a tail as a result of trauma, adapts for a while to its absence, moving and jumping less deftly. And this proves that the cat wagging its tail during the jump is not just. Second: in a cat born without a tail, the hind legs are longer and stronger compared to the hind legs of tailed relatives. Apparently, nature compensates for the absence of the tail, slightly changing the structure of the skeleton.
In addition, zoologists found out why a cat needs a tail during a hunt. It turns out that the cat uses it as a rudder: in the same way, the fish, swimming, buckle the tail in the direction opposite to the movement. And on the fences of the tailed cat it is easier to walk: the tail, working as a counterweight, helps it to stay on a tiny rake.
Tail and communication
Since to understand a cat by tail is not so difficult, ethologists, analyzing the behavior of cats, pay special attention to this part of the body. Cats – animals are frank and straightforward, they do not know how to lie and do not hide their emotions, so every owner can learn to understand the mood of a cat on the tail. It is necessary only to observe the position of the tail in this or that situation.
Peaceful: the tail hangs in a natural position, relaxed. A cat sits or lies, wrapping its tail around itself – it is in a good mood and trusts others.
Friendliness: why does a cat have a tail when it comes to a person? This position of the tail means that the pet is happy to meet and do not mind being patted on a silky fur coat. Similarly, she meets a familiar fellow tribesman.
Alertness: if the cat does not know, the friend in front of her or the enemy, she keeps the tail raised at an angle of 45 degrees. Why do cats wag their tail, even when sitting next to a loved one and seem to be completely satisfied with life? It’s simple – the pet checks to see if there is an enemy behind who wants to attack perfidiously.
Curiosity: why does the cat twitch its tail, moving the tip from side to side? Most likely, she sees or hears something that she is interested in and awakens in the hunter one of the most striking features of her character – curiosity. It can be a fly, the sound of rain and even the smell of pilaf from the next apartment, but be careful: maybe the cat became interested in stroking her hand, and in this case it is more reasonable to leave the pet alone.
Playfulness: how to understand a cat on the tail during a game? The cat, remembering the established limits, wags a relaxed tail, moving it smoothly, without nervousness. If the cat is overplayed, it wags its tail faster, and the movements become more abrupt – beware, the next moment the pet may prefer the toy to your hand. Why does the cat shake its tail, directed vertically? This is also a form of expression of playfulness, bordering on sexual arousal.
Irritation: to see the bad mood of a cat on the tail is the easiest. Petomitsa, irritated by something, with sharp movements moves the tail from side to side, not waving to them, but as if shifting the tail back and forth. The tail protrudes almost vertically, and the tip is bent, resembling a hook – I do not want to communicate, although I understand that you are not to blame for my nervousness.
Fury: the cat swelled its tail and wool, which grows along the ridge – save yourself, who can. In this state, even the most affectionate pitomitsa is able to prove that the beast is no more terrible than the cat. She can take a defensive position or attack first, maybe scared or something angry, one thing is – the cat is in an extremely excited state. If the cat literally threshes its tail on the surface – be careful, it can attack at any moment. However, there is an exception: kittens, susceptible cats and castrated to the first estrus pets, which often spread their tails during a playful running, which is not a sign of aggression.
There are reasons why the cat shakes with a tail, not related to the mood of the pet. For example, cats are shaking up their tail vertically upwards, when walls and other elevations are tagged. If the cat is experiencing pain or stress, it nervously, wagging its tail nervously, or pounding it on the floor. If a cat bites its tail, it is possible that she has picked up fleas or is itching because of dermatitis. In the heat, especially long-haired pets, they roll on their sides and stretch their tail all the way. Cold night, the cat comfortably wraps itself with a tail, trying to reduce heat emission.
This is interesting: once and the man had a tail, but our ancestors learned to walk on the hind limbs and instead of the body language use speech. The tail lost its functionality and in the course of evolution it almost completely disappeared – there was only a small rudiment, called the coccyx. Our ancestors knew how to bristle wool like cats. But today from this ability there were only shivers running along the body at the moment of emotional excitement or as a protective reaction in response to a cold wind rush.