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Why Do Cats Chase Their Tails? Should You Be Worried?

Why Do Cats Chase Their Tails? Should You Be Worried?

If you own a pet, you probably will have noticed that they display some unusual habits that might get you worried. One of the unusual habits cats display is chasing their tails. Unless you take time to conduct research on typical cat behaviors, you will be worried when it displays instinctive behaviors.

Most times, cats chase their tails to relieve themselves of stress or boredom. Sometimes a cat can suddenly start chasing its tail due to an underlying health issue or an infection. If you see your cat always chasing its tail, you should be worried and take it to see the veterinarian. 

If you own a pet cat, you might notice it chasing its tail occasionally, especially if it is a kitten. Watching a cat chase its tail can be very amusing, but sometimes it does not do it for fun. You must understand why cats chase their tails so that you can know how to respond to this behavior correctly.

cat playing on white background

What Does It Mean When A Cat Chases Its Tail?

For most kittens and young adult cats, chasing their tail is normal playful behavior; however, an adult cat might chase its tail out of boredom. Playful cats view their tails as playthings, and they love anything that moves. So instead of looking for a moving object or toy, they might decide to turn to their tail and start chasing it.

Some adult cats also chase their tails for entertainment. However, this behavior will be abandoned at a certain age, and the cat becomes too mature to chase its tail. In cases like this, getting a toy for the cat is best so that it has something to play with when it is bored. Cats also chase their tails when they are trying to scratch them.

Fleas love to bite the base of a cat’s tail; this bite can leave bumps on the cat’s skin. When a flea bites a cat’s tail, that area becomes itchy, and the cat will struggle to scratch it, so you would see it chasing its tail.

In cases like this, you should make sure you clean up the flea infestation in your cat’s house. Once it is solved, your cat will stop chasing its tail. Cats also chase their tails as a result of allergies.

Food allergies or environmental allergies can leave the skin of your cat’s tail dry and itchy. Hence, the cat will start running in circles and looking for ways to get rid of the itching. It might result in scratching, so the cat will start chasing its tail to scratch it.

In severe cases of such allergies, you can use the recommended steroids to get rid of the itching and prevent further damage. A cat might also be chasing its tail due to an infection. Infections can be from different sources, such as the anal gland.

The anal gland is located inside the rectum; when there is an infection in the anal gland, it might try to get rid of the pain by scratching it, resulting in it chasing its tail. When a cat’s tail is injured, it can relieve the pain by scratching its tail. If you see a cat trying to scratch its tail, you will notice it struggling, and one of the things they do is chase its tail.

So, when a cat tries to relieve itself of any pain in the tail, you will most likely find it chasing its tail. A cat can also be chasing its tail because it suffers from Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome, also known as twitch-skin syndrome or psychomotor epilepsy.

This syndrome is caused by overactive nerve endings, which cause a tingling sensation in the tail and a sensitivity to touch. When a cat has Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome, it will always try to bite or lick its tail.

This can be difficult, so finding the cat chasing its tail while trying to lick or bite its- tail is possible. A cat might also be chasing its tail to practice hunting; it can pretend its tail is the prey and try to capture it since cats are natural hunters.

Why Do Cats Sometimes Attack Their Own Tail?

If you have ever noticed your cat attacking its tail, you will probably wonder why and if it is a normal habit. It is one thing for your cat to chase its tail, and it is another for it to attack its tail. A cat attacking its tail causes serious harm and damage to the cat; this action should be discouraged.

One of the main reasons cats attack their tails is because they have a disorder or condition called Feline Hyperesthesia. Feline Hyperesthesia is a condition, disorder, or syndrome that most people refer to as rolling skin syndrome, rippling skin syndrome, or twitchy skin syndrome.

This syndrome has symptoms like dilated pupils, loud meowing, vocalization, hallucinations, seizures, paddling legs, salivation, falling over, self-directed grooming in the tail area, tail swishing, and fixation on a tail. One of the possible causes of this disorder is aberrant electrical activity in the brain’s area.

The reason for this syndrome is yet to be found; however, it results in strange behavioral outbursts from the cat. One of these behaviors is attacking its tail; the cat will be calm one moment, and the next, it is frantically attacking its tail. This behavior can last for at least 30 seconds before the cat becomes calm.

Cats also attack their tails for behavioral reasons like obsessive-compulsive disorder and separation anxiety. When a cat is moved to a new environment, it might have separation anxiety, resulting in biting its tail. If insects or worms are feeding on your cat’s tail, the cat might attack its tail to get rid of the unwanted parasites.

If a cat has ringworm in its tail region, it will attack its tail to get rid of the irritation. In such cases, the cat can sometimes nip and bite its tail until it bleeds. Cats suffering from arthritis in the tail can end up attacking its tail and biting it to ease the pain it is feeling.

cat playing on couch

How To Stop Your Cat From Chasing and Attacking Its Tail

When a cat is not chasing its tail for fun purposes, it can result from other conditions affecting its health. If you notice your cat suddenly chases or attacks its tail, you must not shout at it, or the situation might become worse. First, fully examine the cat’s tail for any scar or injury that a parasite might cause.

If you notice any injury or scar, you should take the cat to the veterinarian for treatment and make sure you use the prescribed ointment or medicine. However, if your cat is chasing its tail due to an allergy, you should use a recommended hypoallergenic diet prescribed by the veterinarian.

For cases of arthritis, you can use any recommended steroids, antibiotics, or anti-inflammatory medication. Also, if a cat is chasing its tail because it is bored, try to create fun activities and get different toys for the cat. For Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome, your veterinarian might prescribe anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medication for the cat.

Final Thoughts

When you have a pet cat, make sure you always pay attention to the cat’s behaviors. If you notice anything strange, visit the veterinarian for inquiries and not turn a blind eye. A cat chasing its tail or attacking it is hazardous because the tail is an essential part of the cat. It is best to discourage your cat from chasing its tail frequently so that it does not get used to it.

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