Dear Joan – What do you know about cats chasing their tails?
Our cat, who found us and said, “I live here now, feed myself”, chased the tail (before), only once or twice. Last week he seems to be aggressively chasing his tail.
I know that bothers me. Of course I have to take him to the vet. What questions should a veterinarian ask themselves to make sure I’m getting the correct diagnosis?
Joan, Palo Sedro, California
Dear Joan: It is normal for kittens to chase their tails, but less common in adult cats. Whenever a pet shows strange and inexplicable behavior, it’s time to see a veterinarian.
Your regular vet should be able to handle this. If you don’t have a veterinarian, look for one who specializes in small animals and cats. You may need a specialist, but unlikely this is a good place to start.
Chasing the tail can be harmless, such as when a cat is bored. He can also have flea problems. As is well known, fleas collect at the base of the tail and cause itching and inflammation. Your cat may be trying to go to an itchy place.
Your cat may also have an anal infection or a tail infection that causes itching and discomfort.
The unlikely reason could be an allergy to food or something in the environment. They can cause itching and sensitive skin all over your body. If your cat is having an allergic reaction, you may have a rash or an ear infection.
You didn’t tell if your cat was spayed, but if it’s not, tail tracking could be a sign of a tail gland infection. The sebum glands secrete oils that help keep cat hair nice and silky, but waxy substances can usually build up around the base of the tail. This is common in intact men. Make sure there isn’t any dull, unfriendly hair there.
Some cats have a rare disease called hypersensitivity syndrome. This is an excessive nerve ending that can cause tingling and discomfort to the touch.
Otherwise, cats can be injured if they are too aggressive, but tail hunting shouldn’t be a major issue.
Dear Joan: I read your column every day and have always listened to advice for people about pet health. I laughed at the story of a cat watching TV because there are three Chihuahuas.
When we go to bed and watch TV, if they show four-legged animals, watch TV. They start barking loudly, walk to the edge of the bed and try to jump into the television. You need to hold the remote control and look at the channel buttons with your fingers. When horses and cows appear, they just turn their heads as if to identify them. Birds, dolphins and fish are so far not important to them.
Julio, Livermore, California
Dear Julio: So far, my Chihuahua has only reacted to one TV show, an advertisement with a fake swordfish scream. It really compliments him. I don’t know if it’s the sound of an ad or a review.
Whenever a pet shows strange and inexplicable behavior, it’s time to see a veterinarian.