I’ve seen many dogs chasing their tails, so I was surprised to see a cat chasing its tails. My friend’s cat, Jax, started chasing its own tail, and I wondered if Jax was copying the behavior of my friend’s Golden Retriever.
I later found out that Jax wasn’t a copycat. Unfortunately he had an infection on his tail. Is it ever a problem when you see a cat chasing its tail? What should you do when a cat is chasing its tail? Let’s take a look.
Connected: 5 facts about the cool cat tail
Is It Normal To See A Cat Chasing Its Tail?
Some cats, like dogs, just chase their tails for fun. “Some cats hunt their tails for entertainment, but it’s less common in cats than it is in dogs,” says Dr. Sasha Gibbons of Just Cats Veterinary Hospital in Stamford, Connecticut.
But sometimes a cat chasing its tail means something more in the language of the cat’s tail. And unfortunately, there are times when a cat chasing its tail signals the opposite of having fun.
“Cats can also chase their tails for a variety of medical reasons,” explains Dr. Gibbons. “Cats hunt their tails when there is an infection and the tail is uncomfortable or when it itches from allergies. Cats can also have a condition called hyperesthesia syndrome, which is caused by overactive nerve endings, and cats experience a tingly sensation on their tail. “
Stud stud tail, a cat skin disorder, is another problem that may be involved and that requires veterinarian attention.
It is important to know your cat’s normal body and tail language to make sure they are medically non-behavioral.
What if a cat chases its tail – and bites it in the process?
Make sure you have a plan of action if you notice a cat chasing its tail – and biting it! “Cat tails can become infected very easily, and a tail infection can be difficult to correct, so any injury to the tail (self-inflicted) or any other cat should be evaluated by a veterinarian,” says Dr. Gibbons.
How can you stop a cat from chasing its tail?
If your cat is chasing its tail and you suspect an infection, hyperesthesia, bolt tail, or injury, take your cat to the vet as soon as possible.
But should you ever worry about a cat playfully chasing its tail?
“If a cat just chases its tail but doesn’t bite or damage the tail, it can be a result of boredom,” explains Dr. Gibbons. “If an owner sees their cat doing it, they can try redirecting the cat to chase a toy on a string or a laser pointer.”
If you are concerned that your cat is bored from being away from home for a long time, Dr. Gibbons use interactive toys like Frolicat or Panic Mouse. This will help your cat focus more on the toy and less on playing with its tail.
What about cats flapping their cat siblings’ tails?
Sometimes a cat chasing its own tail isn’t the problem – it’s a cat chasing another cat’s tail! It is important to recognize a cat’s body language when this happens. “Attacking another cat’s tail can be playful or aggressive,” says Dr. Gibbons. “It all depends on the attacker’s body language during the crime – and the extent of the damage done to the victim.”
Separate cats who are aggressive towards one another. Even if your cat is playfully chasing or beating another cat’s tail, draw the cats’ attention to interactive toys.
The bottom line of a cat chasing its tail
Remember that a cat that chases its tail isn’t always playful or fun. See a veterinarian whenever your cat damages its tail or you suspect that it is chasing its tail out of discomfort. If the problem seems behavioral rather than medical, check with the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB) for a veterinary behaviorist near you. These experts will assess your cat’s specific situation and help you decide what to do next.
Tell us: Does your cat chase its tail? Does your cat chase its tail for fun – or has your cat ever chased its tail because of a more serious problem?
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