Why is My Cat Chewing Their Tail? Causes & Treatments

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To remedy a cat's tail chewing, you have to know the cause. Several conditions can cause a cat to bite their own tail, including medical issues and parasites. While cats will occasionally gnaw on their tail while grooming themselves, frequently doing so isn't normal cat behavior. Excessive grooming can lead to hair loss and skin infections, so see the veterinarian to determine the cause and treat it.

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Is a cat's tail biting caused by a skin irritant or flea bite?

Yes, a cat may bite their tail due to a skin irritant or flea bite.​ One of the main causes of skin irritation in cats is skin parasites, like fleas or mites. Many cats have an allergy to the saliva of fleas, which is transmitted under the skin when bitten. An allergic reaction to flea bites can cause your cat to become severely itchy and may cause inflamed skin all around the tail, caudal body, and thighs, even if the fleas bites your cat elsewhere on their body.

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Fleas often congregate near the base of your cat's tail, resulting in the skin there becoming itchy. The itchiness will cause your cat to bite at the area. Ringworm, a type of fungus, can also cause skin irritation that your cat bites, as can food or environmental allergies.

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Your veterinarian can recommend an oral or topical medication to get rid of the fleas or fungus on or around their tail. They might also recommend food trials and a hypoallergenic diet if food allergies are to blame for their itchy skin. If the allergy is caused by an airborne irritant, your veterinarian may recommend a short course of steroids or a long-term immunosuppressive agent, such as cyclosporine or some other kind of veterinary medicine. They may also discuss desensitization or allergy testing as well.

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Is an injury the cause of a cat's tail biting?

If your cat's tail becomes injured, they may bite at it in an attempt to relieve the pain.​ Your cat may suffer from arthritis in the area they're biting or may have an abscess there. Your veterinarian can treat these conditions and administer pain medication to provide some relief from the symptoms.

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A medical condition known as feline hyperesthesia syndrome (FHS) could cause your cat to bite their tail. This condition causes a cat's skin to become very sensitive. You may notice that your cat twitches, vocalizes, or has muscle spasms just before they bite their tail. Your veterinarian may recommend putting your cat on anti-anxiety medications, anti-inflammatory medications, or anti-seizure medications to help treat feline hyperesthsia syndrome.

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Could stud tail be causing a cat's tail biting?

A cat who bites their tail may be dealing with stud tail,​ a condition that can affect both male and female cats but is most common in unneutered males. This condition, also known as supracaudal gland hyperplasia, occurs when the supracaudal gland produces an abnormally large amount of an oily substance called sebum. This gland is located at the base of the tail.

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Having a male cat neutered may help to resolve supracaudal gland hyperplasia. If the condition persists, your veterinarian may recommend regularly washing the tail area with an anti-seborrheic shampoo, which should help to reduce the irritation in this area and stop your kitty from chewing it.

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What else can stop a cat from tail biting?

Indoor cats who becomes stressed or bored may start biting their tails or may display excessive licking. Some cats develop compulsive disorders and self-mutilate when they are anxious. To temporarily prevent your cat from biting at their tail and worsening any skin infections they've caused, your veterinarian may recommend that they wear an Elizabethan collar.

If you notice that your kitty is biting their tail, distract them with a toy but don't punish them, as that may make them more anxious. Engage your cat in interactive playtime daily, feed them on a regular schedule, and provide plenty of toys for them to play with when you aren't home to keep the boredom and anxiety to a minimum. If the behavior persists, you may need to consult your veterinarian or an animal behaviorist.

The bottom line

There could be a health issue causing your cat to bite their tail, whether behavioral, environmental, or medical. It's important to observe the exact symptoms your cat is displaying, such as if you observe any skin conditions; scabs; infestations of parasites; or behavior problems, such as compulsive disorder. If you do observe these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your DVM in order to obtain a proper diagnosis and to discuss possible treatments and next steps.

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