Why Do Cats Chase Their Tails?

Why Do Cats Chase Their Tails

What does it mean when a cat chases its tail?

Playful behavior – Some cats just enjoy having fun with their tail. This is especially true for kittens, who love to chase everything that moves. As they grow older, these little felines will learn that it’s more useful to chase prey and other things that are not attached to their body.

Is it normal for a cat to chase their tail?

Ask a Vet with Dr. Sam: Why do cats chase their tails? Tail chasing is something all cat lovers have witnessed. It starts with a little twitch and then quickly turns into your cat spinning in circles in what seems to be an ill-advised attempt to catch its own tail.

Which makes us wonder, just why do kittens and cats chase their own tails and is this “normal” behavior? Tail chasing is something that kittens do quite commonly when they play and practice their hunting skills. Young kittens are infatuated with anything that moves, and since tails resemble snakes, they seem perfect for pouncing.

This is harmless fun (even when they do catch their tail!) and they soon learn it is better to hunt things that are not attached to their bodies. Adult cats may occasionally chase their tail for entertainment as well, especially if they did it frequently as a kitten.

However, since most adult cats mature out of tail chasing, if your cat suddenly starts chasing his tail, it is important to recognize that he could be trying to tell you something. An adult cat might be chasing his tail out of boredom or to relieve stress, especially if you notice that when doing it, he is not biting or damaging his tail.

If you see this new behavior and it seems to coincide with changes in the household routine, try to ensure that your cat has plenty of stimulation (laser pointers are great distractions!) and interactive toys. This will help your cat focus more on the toys and less on his tail.

Sometimes though, when an adult cat suddenly begins chasing his tail, it could be the result of an underlying health issue and you will want to consult with your vet. It could be that your furry friend is not playing with his tail but is reacting to pain or itchiness as a result of an infection or from skin allergies.

In rare cases, the cat could be suffering from feline hyperesthesia syndrome (FHS), which is caused by overactive nerve endings that cause a tingling sensation in the tail and sensitivity to touch. Tail chasing can be completely normal depending on the age of the cat and the environmental situation.

Ittens are highly likely to chase their tails and some adult cats who are extra playful or bored when left alone too often may do it as well. However, if your adult cat starts chasing her tail and that is not something she has done before, know that she might not be playing and have a talk with your vet to rule out any medical concerns.

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Do you have a question for the vet? We want to hear it! Email questions to, : Ask a Vet with Dr. Sam: Why do cats chase their tails?

Why do cats bite and chase their tails?

What are tail chasing and tail mutilation? – Some cats will chase and even viciously attack their tails. This may arise as a form of play, especially if there is a lack of sufficient routine and stimulation, and may escalate to a more serious problem because of its consequences.

Situations of conflict and anxiety in which the cat becomes highly aroused may lead to displacement behaviors such as tail chasing or over-grooming. Owner attempts to stop the behavior may add to the anxiety and conflict and further aggravate the problem. Regardless of the cause, if the cat manages to catch and bite its own tail the problem may progress to more serious damage and mutilation.

The painful and infected tail may have to be amputated but this does not in any way address the underlying motivation for the behavior. “Situations of conflict and anxiety in which the cat becomes highly aroused may lead to displacement behaviors such as tail chasing or overgrooming.” Therefore, in addition to medical treatment to control the infection and pain, and devices to prevent further damage (e.g., E-collar, bandage) behavioral therapy and behavioral drugs for compulsive disorders are likely to be needed.

Do cats know their tail is theirs?

The tail is an extension of the spine and is controlled by a network of muscles, tendons and nerves; cats are very aware their tails belong to them. It’s usually young animals who will chase their tail if its motion activates their prey drive.

Why does a cat swat its tail?

Thrashing Tail Movements – When your cat thrashes their tail, or is thumping it on the ground, they are irritated, annoyed, or angry. This tells you that something is bothering your cat. This is a distance-increasing behavior. In other words, if you are petting your cat and they start thrashing their tail, they are trying to tell you to stop.

Does my cat have OCD?

Watch for the Signs – An anxious kitty isn’t too difficult to spot. PetMD identifies the following signs and symptoms of general cat anxiety:

Trembling Withdrawal and hiding Becoming less active Trying to escape Destructive or aggressive behavior Diarrhea Failure to use the litter box Sores and lesions resulting from over-grooming

Other symptoms include a loss or reduction of appetite, weight loss, excessive vocalization, lethargy and restlessness, says PetMD, OCD can be identified by excessive, repetitive behaviors such as eating, sucking or chewing on fabric, obsessive grooming, repetitive meowing or yowling, and constant pacing.

Do cats know they are cute?

Do Cats Know They Are Cute – Although cats probably don’t have the ability to know they are “cute,” when they live with humans, they learn to utilize the behaviors and motions that result in our response of feeding them, playing with them, or interacting with them.

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Can cats hug you with their tail?

What Your Cat’s Tail Is Secretly Trying to Tell You April 5th, 2022 Cats aren’t expressive and are very challenging to gauge. Right? Wrong. You’ll be amazed at how much you can learn about cat communication by taking the time to observe your feline friend’s body language. The eyes, ears, posture, and especially the tail have stories to tell.

Tail Pointed Straight Up: That’s the perfect way for a cat to demonstrate friendliness. It’s also a sign your cat is happy and approachable. U-Shaped Curved Tail: A curved tail is often a sign of relaxation, happiness, or playfulness. The higher the tail goes, the more confidence it demonstrates. Tail Wrapped Around You: Touching you with the tail or wrapping it around you is one way your furry friend expresses affection, relaxation, and love. It’s the perfect opportunity for petting your cat and having a play and bonding time. Tail Out and Angled Up: If your cat’s tail is held away from the body and slightly angled up, that’s expressing unease or indecision. It’s a wait-and-see situation that could go either way. Tail Close to the Body : A low tail held close to the body indicates that a cat feels unsure or afraid. That’s usually not a happy sign, suggesting that aggressive behavior may follow. Tail Between the Legs : A tail between the legs isn’t usually good news. It may reflect extreme fear and uncertainty and is a warning that an attack may follow, especially if accompanied by hissing, yowling, and flattened ears. Arched or Puffed Out Tail: An arched tail or puffed out tail fur indicates alarm or aggression, regardless of how the tail is positioned. It’s often a way to look larger and more intimidating in the face of a threat.

Cats communicate through tail movements just as much as their positions. So pause for a moment and watch those subtle cat behaviors, which will tell you a lot about what’s going on with your furry friend.

Wagging Tail : Unlike dogs, a cat’s wagging tail is not a sign of friendliness. It’s a warning sign expressing anger, fear, or agitation, which may soon be followed by aggressive behavior. Slowly Swishing : A tail moving slowly against the ground is a sign of spotting something enticing or getting ready to zero in. You’ll often see the tail thumping against the ground right before pouncing. Tail Flicking: In kitty language, flicking a tail tells you to stay clear. It’s a warning sign that your feline friend is angry and ready to go ballistic.

Just as it’s important to pay attention to your cat’s tail and what it’s secretly trying to say, you must familiarize yourself with other behaviors, including body positioning and vocalizations. That way, you’ll have a clearer picture of what your cat’s trying to convey.

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: What Your Cat’s Tail Is Secretly Trying to Tell You

How can you tell if a cat is happy tail?

In general, a cat that’s walking around with its tail held high is happier and in a better mood than one with a low tail. If your cat approaches you with their tail held straight up – sometimes paired with a prancing walk or happy meows – they’re in a good mood and may be looking for attention.

What is my cat’s tail trying to tell me?

Tail Position: High – When your cat holds their tail high in the air as they move about their territory, they’re expressing confidence and contentment. A tail that sticks straight up signals happiness and a willingness to be friendly. And watch the tip of an erect tail. A little twitch can mean a particularly happy moment.

Why do cats wag their tails while stalking?

Why is my cat wagging its tail so fast? – “Generally, the quicker a cat’s tail is flicking back and forth the more likely it is that they’re on edge or put off in some way,” Butzer says. If your cat is quickly swishing its tail for a prolonged time — while not performing any other activities — along with any pouncing, it’s probably not a good idea to play with your pet then.

“When the tail is fully and rapidly wagging, they are about to attack prey or another cat,” DeVoss says. Similarly, Roth says that a cat swishing its tail while looking at a toy or another cat probably means it’s about to jump and play. Speed of tail swishing can also indicate your pet’s emotional state of mind.

Roth summarizes the different speeds of feline tagging. Slow and low swishing likely means the cat is slightly annoyed. A low tail flicking quickly back and forth signals unhappiness and may indicate the cat is prepared to defend itself. If you notice this behavior, give your pet some space and let your cat hide if it wants.

Why do cats wag their tails while lying down?

Cats Sometimes Wag or Thump Their Tails While Lying Down – Why do they wag their tails while lying down? It may seem especially strange when cats wag or thump their tails while relaxing. Often, it means she’s beginning to feel a little overstimulated.

  1. If she’s lying down or even sitting calmly, she may swish her tail a little after you’ve been petting her.
  2. This wagging of her tail can mean she’s feeling a little annoyed or overstimulated and needs you to give her some space.
  3. Sometimes it can also mean she has a lot of energy, and even though she was lying down calmly, now she’s ready to play.

This would be a good time to withdraw your hand, stop petting her and grab a cat toy. Otherwise, you might find your hand soon becomes the toy, and you’ll end up with a few scratches from an overly exuberant kitty.

Do cats like you playing with their tail?

Tail: Most cats don’t particularly like to be petted on the tail. And for what it’s worth, a cat’s tail is a good measuring stick for how stimulated (read: agitated) she’s becoming as a result of your petting. The more it starts to move, the sooner you should keep your hands to yourself.