Why does my cat bite his tail until it bleeds? The most common reasons a cat may bite his tail until it bleeds are fleas, allergies, injuries, stress or an illness like arthritis. Sometimes it may be something that’s more serious and complicated.
Why does your cat bite his tail until it bleeds?
Tail biting is considered a behavior that is not normal and should be addressed immediately. These are some of the causes why your cat seems to have a fixation for biting and hurting his tail:
Parasites and allergens
A major irritant for cats are parasites like fleas that results in constant itching. These fleas are usually found in the base of a cat’s tail which makes it super itchy and as a result, your cat will chew, nip, and bite the area until it bleeds. Ringworm which is a type of fungus may also be the cause for the irritation in the tail area. Your cat may also have eaten something lately that triggered a food allergy which causes irritation and itching, especially in the tail area.
Injuries and arthritis
Sometimes cats may get into trouble either by their own doing or because of altercations with other cats and may end up getting injured. An injury can be very painful and a cat tends to chase and bite its tail to relieve the pain. Often, it may result in a bleeding tail if too much pressure was exerted to bite it. Cats suffering from arthritis may also have the urge to ease the pain by resorting to tail-biting.
Feline hyperesthesia ( FHS)
This is a bizarre medical condition that affects cats and characterized by manic and even schizophrenic tendencies. Here are the known clinical signs of this syndrome:
- tail swishing and chasing, attacking his tail, fixation with tail
- self-directed grooming along the tail area which usually leads to hair loss
- enlarged pupils and a strange look in the eyes
- hallucinations such as running away from invisible enemies
- vocalization and loud meowing
- highly sensitive when touched along the spine area
- sudden mood swings from affectionate to aggressive
- seizures, salivating, falling over, paddling legs
According to cat experts, a possible cause for FHS is aberrant electrical activity in the brain’s area that controls emotions as well as tendencies of an obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Behavioral causes like stress, boredom, and anxiety
Stress and anxiety in some cats may manifest itself by biting the tail until it bleeds. The most common culprits for these behavioral causes include sudden changes in the home or environment, moving to a new house, or the arrival of a new pet or family member. See our article why is my cat scared all of a sudden for more information on the effect of changes on cats. Also, a bored cat can think of outrageous ways to pass the time like biting and chasing its tail to a point of self-injury.
Stud tail and cat acne
This condition is common among unneutered male cats and happens when the supracaudal glands produce large amounts of sebum, an oily substance, usually at the base of the tail. Since that area becomes irritated due to the oil build-up, a cat resorts to tail-biting to alleviate his discomfort.
Signs that your cat is biting and attacking his tail
While a bleeding tail is one of the most evident signs of this queer cat behavior, other symptoms of a tail mutilation issue may include cuts in the tail area. missing fur, scabbing, and bleeding. The moment you see these symptoms, consult your vet right away and if you notice profuse bleeding in the tail area then your cat needs emergency vet attention.
What to do if your cat bites his tail until it bleeds?
If the cause of the tail-biting is flea infestation then your vet will prescribe flea medicine in oral or topical form. If it was due to ringworm, then fungal treatment is the solution. For food allergies, your vet may recommend a hypoallergenic diet that should be strictly followed.
For injuries or arthritis, your vet will most likely recommend antibiotics, steroids, and anti-inflammatory medication.
For FHS and behavioral causes, your vet may prescribe anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication and may recommend a cat behaviorist to correct the cat’s strange behavior. Anti-epileptic therapy may also be considered especially for extreme cases of FHS. Cat experts also recommend that you spend more quality playtime with your cats and to keep them busy by engaging them with the use of interactive toys. Some examples would be laser mice toys, feather wand toys, and toys that are attached to a string.
Encourage your pets to stay active by placing cat perches or even outdoor enclosures so they can roam in an outdoor area but within a secured perimeter. Your vet may also suggest that you train your cat to learn and perform at least a new trick each month to keep your cat mentally active. Click and treat training has been found to have positive outcomes.
For stud tail and cat acne, neutering your male cats may solve the problem and your vet may also prescribe an antiseborrheic shampoo to ease the irritation and hinder your pet from chewing and biting his tail.
Other than those mentioned here, some cat experts also suggest covering your cat’s tail with bandage or towel to stop the tail-biting habit or at least discourage your cat from doing so. They stated that a cat if it doesn’t see its tail, will stop doing the strange habit.
Discovering that your cat has a very bad case of tail-biting could drive any pet parent to the brink of a panic attack. It’s not every day that you witness strange behavior like that, and worse if it’s accompanied by bleeding and wounds. Proper identification of the probable causes is of utmost importance. A visit to your vet at the earliest signs of tail mutilation is highly recommended.