Cat Chasing Tail – Why Do Cats Chase their Tails?

Dogs and cats are known to play with their tails. For cats, the behavior is most common in kittens as they engage in wild play that is characteristic of their initial days. While most of them outgrow this behavior, it is possible to observe a cat chasing tail episode in grownup cats especially when they are idle. Discussed below are reasons why cats chase their tails and what you can do about it.

Why Do Cats Chase Their Tails?

Why do cats chase their tails and is it normal for cats to play with their tails? These questions are common among cat owners dealing with this kind of behavior for the first time.

There are different reasons why cats engage in this habit. While some of these may be normal cat behavior, others may be indicative of underlying health and skin problems. Below are some reasons why you may be see a cat chasing its tail.

Play Activity

Kittens will chase their tails as part of their playful activity. The act of an endless chase is not only fascinating but keeps the kitty fit and healthy. Kitties who are alone and have no company to play with can be seen engaging in this kind of chasing.


Cats are born hunters. Even if they do not have to hunt in the bushes for their food, they still learn how to do it. While growing up, they learn how to capture and kill prey. If the mum is around, she will teach them the art of hunting even when there is no live prey to hunt. This helps in developing the instinct to chase things which makes chasing the tail a natural thing.

Obsessive Compulsive Behavior

In the initial phase of a cat chasing tail, the behavior is simply fun. However, with time it may develop into an undesirable habit.Cats with compulsive obsessive disorder may engage in chasing their tails.

They will have moments of aggression and hyperactivity during which the cat’s pupils will dilate and be fixated on the tail. They will then chase it incessantly followed by excessive grooming.

To eliminate this kind of behavior, give your cat enough toys and allow him have enough sessions where he can play and hunt. Where the behavior becomes excessive and you are concerned, see an animal behaviorist.


Cats are naturally playful. Indoor cats will at times lack enough physical stimulation. This will result in boredom and a lot of pent up energy. As a result, they may chase their tails to keep them occupied and kill boredom. While at it, it will help them release any pent up energy.

To avoid this kind of tail chasing, you can engage your cat in interactive play. Cat trees can also provide the necessary stimulating. These will keep them from chasing their tails.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Cats that suffer flea allergy will experience skin irritation and itch when attacked by fleas. The effect may last long after the fleas are no longer on the skin. Severe cases of flea allergy dermatitis may see your cat chasing its tail, licking and scratching it. The base of the tail is the most affected and could experience hair loss as well.


Stress in pets tends to prompt varied behavior depending on individual pets. There are different things that could cause stress in cats. These include change of environment, natural catastrophes among others. These may negatively affect their emotional health causing a redirection of their aggression to other things such as chasing their tail.

Tail Chasing Syndrome

Another reason why your cat may obsessively chase their tail is because they have the tail chasing syndrome. According to, the act is simply a way of having fun. They treat their tails as prey which must be stopped and when successful, they sit down to groom it. There is nothing wrong with the cat when it engages in such behavior.

Medical Problems Symptom

Another reason why you may see a cat chasing tail is due to medical problems especially those related to the tail and areas around it. Cats will chase their tails when experiencing tail injuries, anal sac infections and skin related problems. Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome which is also known as rolling skin syndrome could be another medical cause whose initial symptom may be tail chasing.

Contact Allergies

Cats that are sensitive to mold, pollen, grass and detergents will suffer allergic reactions when they get into contact with the same. In addition to chasing their tail, they may also bite it to relief the itch ad irritation.

How to Stop Cat Chasing Tail Behavior

In most cases, cat chasing behavior will be seen in kittens. By the time they are all grown, they outgrow the behavior. This, though, is not always the case. Some pets fail to outgrow it while at times it is also possible for older pets to develop it. If you are concerned about the same, here are things that could help put the cat chasing tail behavior under control.

Play Sessions

Keeping your cat engaged in play can help minimize tail chasing. This will ensure that they relieve stress as well as get rid of any pent up energy. Having different kinds of toys for your cat can help kill boredom and reduce the chasing episodes.

Eliminate Allergens

Where the cause is skin irritation resulting from allergic reactions, find out what it is and eliminate it. Vacuum the cat’s living area frequently to get rid of mold. If they get into tail chasing after spending time outside, try and find out if they could be reacting to pollen and if so keep them inside during high pollen seasons.

Flea Control

Flea infestation can be harsh on your cat. It makes your cat uncomfortable and if it gets to severe levels, the cat will also bite on the skin leading to loss of fur. Keep your cat free of fleas and other parasites for a healthy skin and to minimize related tail chasing.

Seek Professional Help

Where your cat is suffering obsessive compulsive disorder, home treatment may not yield desired results. In such cases, the intervention of a behaviorist may be necessary. Talk to your veterinarian about the same so they can recommend one for you.

Cat Chasing Tail Video.

To wrap up our discussion on cat chasing tail behavior, here is a fun YouTube video.




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