Cats attack their tails and it is a normal behavior of cats. However, cats may attack their tails due to medical issues or stress and anxiety as well.
You may notice mostly that your cats are exhibiting confusing behaviors, like making noise when they jump or attacking their tails. These behaviors come naturally in cats because of their playful and attention-seeking nature.
But cats attacking their tails behavior can also indicate an underlying medical issue affecting your cats. So, you have to understand the exact reason for your cats chasing their tails and how to manage this behavior.
7 Reasons Why Do Cats Attack Their Tails
Several factors can trigger tail-chasing behavior in cats. Some of them are harmless and natural, while others may indicate a health or behavioral problem. Here are some of the most common reasons why cats attack their tails.
1. Kittens View Their Tails As Playthings
Some cats may think of their tails as toys and attack them. Kittens are prone to this behavior as they are more curious and playful by nature. They may simply attack their tails because it is a fun activity for them.
Your cats can chase, pounce, or bite their tails as a way of practicing their hunting and stalking skills. As long as they don’t hurt themselves or become obsessed with their tails, it is quite a normal and healthy behavior for cats.
2. Medical Issues That May Lead To Tail-Chasing
Sometimes, cats attack their tails because they are experiencing pain, discomfort, or irritation in that area. This tail-chasing behavior can arise due to a number of medical issues, such as:
- Fleas, ticks, or mites: These are external parasites that can damage your cat’s fur and skin, and cause itching, inflammation, and infection. They can also affect your cat’s tail and make it a target for biting or scratching.
- Allergies or dermatitis: These are immune system reactions that can cause your cat’s skin to become red, swollen, or itchy. Various substances, such as food, pollen, or chemicals, can trigger them. They can also make your cat’s tail a source of discomfort or irritation.
- Injuries or infections: These are physical damages or diseases that can affect your cat’s tail, such as cuts, wounds, abscesses, or fractures. They can cause your cat’s tail to become painful, swollen, or infected, and make it a reason for licking or biting.
- Neurological disorders: These are conditions that affect your cat’s nerve, such as feline hyperesthesia syndrome, epilepsy, or brain tumors. They can cause your cat’s tail to become hypersensitive, twitchy, or numb.
If you notice any signs of these medical issues or abnormal movements, you should take your cat to the veterinarian as soon as possible. They can identify and treat the issue, and relieve your cat’s discomfort.
3. Cats Attack Their Tails Due To Stress And Anxiety
Sometimes, cats may cry like a baby or attack their tails when they are feeling stressed or anxious. Changes in the environment can be a cause of your cat’s stress and anxiety.
If you’re moving to a new home, introducing a new pet or person, or rearranging the furniture, your cat may feel insecure, threatened, or confused. It will then trigger their tail-chasing behavior as a coping mechanism or a displacement activity.
Furthermore, lack of exercise and mental or physical stimulation makes cats restless, frustrated, or depressed. To get relief from these feelings, your cats attack their tails to release energy or seek your attention.
4. When Kittens Are Curious About Moving Objects
Some cats have a strong instinct to chase and catch anything that moves, such as mice, birds, or insects. They may also find their own tails fascinating, as they can move and twitch independently.
Small cats who are still exploring and learning about the world may display this behavior. When they grow older, they usually lose interest in their tails, and focus on other moving objects.
5. Cats May Chase Their Tails For Sensory Stimulation
Cats can also attack their tails for sensory stimulation. They use their sensory system to perceive and interact with their environment. Cats may also use it to entertain themselves or to fulfill their needs. They may chase or bite their tails as a way of stimulating their senses.
Your cats may enjoy the colors, movements, or shapes of their tail when they attack them. This activity improves their visual acuity. Additionally, they may like listening to the sounds of their tails, which enhances their auditory sensitivity.
6. Seeking Attention From Owners Through Tail-Chasing
Cats always crave interaction and companionship from their owners. Your cats may portray the behavior of attacking their tails to get your attention or invite you to play with them. It can also be an act of bonding with you.
If your cat is obsessed with you and notices that tail-chasing gets a reaction or attention from you, it may repeat the behavior to receive more interaction. It is a sign of love and trust for you, and it shows that they want to spend time with you.
7. Behavioral Changes Over A Cat’s Life Cycle
Cats often change their behavior according to their age, stage, or condition. They may chase or bite their tails as a result of these changes.
When cats reach puberty, they become ready to mate and reproduce. They may chase or bite their tails to express their sexual drive or to attract potential mates.
Furthermore, pregnant female cats can attack their tails while preparing for giving birth. They may chase their tails to protect their offspring or relieve their discomfort.
Also, older cats sometimes attack their tails when they experience physical and mental decline. They may do it to cope with their loss of function or remember their youth.
How to Manage Cat Tail-Chasing Behavior?
Tail-chasing behavior in cats is a normal and healthy expression of their personality, mood, or needs. However, if it becomes excessive, obsessive, or destructive, it can indicate a serious issue.
In this case, you need to address and maintain this behavior. Here are some 5 tips on how to manage cat tail-chasing behavior effectively.
1. Never Scold or Punish Your Cat for Tail-Chasing
You should never scold or punish your cat for tail-chasing. It will only make your cat more stressed, anxious, or fearful and worsen the behavior. It will also damage your relationship with your cat and make your cat lose trust and respect for you.
Instead, you should try to understand the reason behind the behavior and provide your cat with positive and constructive feedback.
For example, if your cat chases its tail because it is bored or lonely, you should not yell at it. You have to divert its attention with a toy or a treat and praise it for playing with it. It will make your cat feel more engaged and appreciated.
2. Keep Your Cat Entertained and Mentally Stimulated
Keeping your cat entertained and mentally stimulated can be another way to manage this behavior. So, you have to know how to entertain your cat. You should provide your cat with a variety of toys, games, and activities, that can challenge and satisfy your cat’s natural instincts and abilities.
You should also spend quality time with your cat and play with your cat regularly. It will keep your cat happy, healthy, and engaged, and strengthen your bond with your cat.
For example, if your cat chases its tail because it is curious or playful, you should not ignore it or discourage it. It can make your cat feel more restless and unsatisfied. You must play with your cat every day to stimulate its senses and movements.
3. Addressing Stress and Anxiety
You have to help your cat feel more secure and relaxed by addressing their stress and anxiety. It will reduce their urge for tail-chasing. Start with providing your cat with a calm and comfortable environment. Also help them to socialize with other cats or animals.
If your cat chases its tail because it is stressed or anxious, you should not force it or expose it to a stressful situation. Try to remove or reduce the stressor, such as a loud noise, a new pet, or a change in the routine. You should also create a safe and cozy space for your cat.
4. Positive Reinforcement Training
Using positive reinforcement training is a great way to modify your cat’s tail-chasing behavior. It is a method of teaching your cat to associate a desired behavior with a reward and an undesired behavior with a consequence.
You should use praise, treats, or toys as rewards, and ignore, redirect, or interrupt as consequences. You should be consistent, patient, and gentle with your cat, and avoid using any harsh or negative methods, such as hitting, shouting, or scaring.
5. Consult a Veterinarian
If your cat’s behavior of attacking its tail becomes excessive or worsens despite your efforts, you must consult a veterinarian. It can be a serious medical or behavioral problem that needs professional diagnosis and treatment.
Veterinarians can examine your cat and perform tests, such as blood work, x-rays, or skin scrapings, to rule out any physical or neurological causes. They can also prescribe medication, such as anti-inflammatory, anti-itch, or anti-anxiety drugs, to relieve your cat’s symptoms.
Your veterinarian can also refer you to a cat behaviorist, who can provide you with more specific and personalized advice and guidance on how to deal with your cat’s tail-chasing behavior.
Hopefully, you got the answers to your queries on why cats attack their tails. This behavior in cats is common, and it can have various reasons and meanings. It can be a normal and healthy expression of your cat’s personality, mood, or needs, or it can be a sign of a medical or behavioral problem.
You should try to understand and manage your cat’s tail-chasing behavior, using the given tips and provide your cat with a happy and healthy life.
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always consult your veterinarian or a cat behaviorist, who can help you and your cat more effectively.