This is a very specific post about a feline behaviour which you may have noticed. When cats spray urine to mark territory as a calling card they back up to a vertical object such as a bush or tree and spray urine horizontally onto that object. When they do it their tail may quiver or twitch. It is a distinct form of feline behaviour associated with urine scent marking. So why do cats quiver their tails when they do this?
Well, I can disclose that its function is unclear but I am pretty clear about it myself! Perhaps you have your own thoughts and if so I would be delighted if you would spell them out in a comment below this post.
It has been suggested that the quivering or twitching is possibly a visual signal “or an automatic manifestation coupled to micturition”. Micturition is the action of urinating! A fancy word and an interesting one used by Fiona Sunquist in her book Wild Cats of the World.
Experts say that among captive cats – and this must be referring to wild cat species in a zoo setting – this form of tail twitching was observed when the spraying was particularly vigourous.
In observing black-footed cats (described as the fiercest wild cat species although this is a domestic-sized cat) this form of tail twitching was simply part of urine-spraying behaviour as was treading of the hind feet.
I will add my thought as follows. I think tail twitching or quivering when spraying urine to mark territory is simply a physical process to force the urine out of the bowel more vigourously. It’s the kind of thing people do when trying to force something. You can make your own mind up as to what I’m referring to!
P.S. I have an afterthought. Cats might quiver their tails when they are happy. It may be a sign of a feeling of pleasure. It is reasonable to assume that cat territory marking may be pleasurable for the cat. If so this may be a reason why cats sometimes quiver their tails when spraying urine.