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Why Cats Chase Their Tails

Cats have fun and weird habits, and chasing their tails is one of them. Read on to find out why they do this!

Cat behavior is peculiar. Sometimes they’ll cuddle in your lap for hours, while at other times, you’ll find them chasing their tail, moving around in a circle fast enough to make most cat lovers dizzy.

Why Cats Chase Their Tails. A black and grey kitten lying on its back, playing with its tail, with a blue background.

For a young kitten, their tail is the perfect chase toy, but for adult cats, the sudden onset of tail-chasing behavior might reveal an underlying medical condition.

An Odd Way of Playing

All cats have an instinctive desire to hunt, whether or not they’ve had the opportunity or incentive to do so. They are naturally attracted to fast-moving objects — such as a chipmunk running across the yard, your shoelace swinging back and forth, or their tail!

You might occasionally see them engaging in playful tail chasing when you don’t provide enough playtime or stimulation.

To determine if your cat’s tail-chasing behavior comes from a desire to play, consider how it acts when you provide stimulation. If they’re interested in toys, batting at the string, or running after small objects like furry mice, chances are their tail chasing is simply another form of play. If this is the case, try providing them with more opportunities for playtime.

Consider setting aside some time each day for interactive play, and be sure to include toys that your cat can chase after.

A Case of Severe Boredom

When cats grow bored, they tend to be more mischievous than usual. One example of this kind of mischief is them hitting your hand with a paw. Cats resort to licking, unraveling toilet paper rolls, climbing curtains, or digging between couch cushions if bored.

To counter boredom, your cat chases its tail. If it seems to entertain itself by chasing its tail, try adding or changing stimuli in its environment.

Cat Towers

Cat towers can keep your furry feline entertained and calm.

They are made with various climbing materials, including carpeted platforms and scratching posts. The towers can be used in any room of the house and are usually placed near windows or on a high shelf to give your cat a bird’s eye (or cat’s eye) view of the outdoors.

Mentally Stimulating Toys

Mentally stimulating toys are designed to keep your cat entertained and active. Observing its behavior is a good way to determine which toys will work best for your furry friend.

If they chew on everything in sight or climb up anything they can reach, a wand toy or ball with bells inside is ideal for them.

Puzzle Treat Dispensers

Puzzle treat dispensers are designed to keep your cat interested and engaged. They can be filled with food or treats, and the challenge is to get them out of the dispenser.

Some puzzle toys have multiple compartments that require you to move objects around for your furry friend to access the goodies inside.

Hangout Spaces

A great way to keep your cat engaged, stimulated, and happy is by giving it a place to call its own.

If you have access to a safe outdoor space for cats, consider providing some toys, snacks, and even a hammock to help your furry friend feel at home while they relax outdoors.

Increased Play Time

If you’re looking for something simple, give your cat more time to play.

You can set aside a few minutes each day to play with it using some of its favorite toys and treats as rewards. This will also help you bond with your kitty and give it attention, which it loves!

Stress-Induced Tail Chasing

Your cat’s body language can tell whether chasing its tail is a sign of play or stress.

Stress-induced tail chasing might be a response to changes in the environment, such as moving to a new home or introducing another pet into the household. If you can identify the cause, you can give your cat more time and space to adjust.

Contact your veterinarian if your cat is stressed for an extended period or seems to be getting worse.

Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome (FHS)

Feline hyperesthesia syndrome (FHS) is a rare medical condition that causes a ripping or tingling sensation in cat tails and backs.

The feeling of being tickled will startle even sleeping cats and cause them to pay attention to their backs or tails. During such panic-like episodes, cats chase and bite their tails.

Any behavior that is out of character for your pet should be discussed with your vet.

Stud Tail

This condition, also known as a supracaudal gland infection, is common in unneutered male cats.

The infection originates with the sebaceous glands at the bottom of your cat’s tail, which secrete oils that keep its fur soft. Excessive buildup of these oils can cause a waxy accumulation at the base of the tail that leads to matting and irritation.

If left untreated, the infection will worsen and spread to other body areas. Treatment usually involves neutering the male cat (to prevent further infections) and keeping it clean.

Allergies and Infections

Environmental or food allergies can cause dryness and itching, leading to cat tail-chasing.

The symptoms are usually more widespread and include chronic ear infections, rashes, and itchy skin on other body parts. An infection can also contribute to it. Anal glands inside the rectum can become infected and cause discomfort or irritability in cats.

In both cases, you should contact your veterinarian.

Compulsive Disorders

Many cats develop strange behaviors during kittenhood, including the habit of sucking on wool or incessant meowing.

Such behaviors manifest themselves in the form of tail chasing in an adult cat. This behavior is often seen as a sign of stress, but it’s also possible that the cat is simply trying to find an outlet for pent-up energy.

Why Do Cats Chase Other Cats’ Tails?

Playful cats are curious and tend to follow moving objects, even if it’s fellow cats’ tails. If these cats are friendly, one may tease the other by flicking its tail. This can lead to a cat chase, which is usually harmless.


Spinning wildly in circles and chasing their tails is an everyday playtime activity for cats. It’s only concerning if it becomes unusual behavior. When in doubt, take your cat to the vet for a checkup.

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