Why is my cat biting its tail?

Sometimes, cats will obsessively begin biting their own tails. This is rather strange behavior for an owner to encounter - it's not that common, but it does happen. In extreme cases, cats will actually mutilate themselves - repeatedly chewing at part of their tail and injuring it to the point that it becomes infected. Many cats have had to have portions or the entirety of their tail amputated at this point. Amputation is extreme, but some vets recommend it as a way to end the behavior that is causing the infections.


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Why is the cat doing it? The first thing to check for is parasites. This will be the most common reason. If a cat is showing this behavior, it usually either has fleas, ticks, or some sort of irritation there. You should also examine the tail thoroughly to see if there are any visible injuries. Try to part the fur in various places, especially where the cat seems to be biting.

If none of those things exists, it may be a mental disorder such as feline OCD (cats exhibit obsessive behavior similar to OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder, at times). Sometimes medication for this works on cats as well, but that is a call your vet has to make.

Another potential reason is a disease called Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome. This is basically a syndrome that leads to extreme twitching, vocalizing, grooming, and sudden jerking. One of the other symptoms is repeated chewing, often to the point of mutilation. FHS is sort of a catch-all for similar symptoms that seem to happen near each other, but it's not that well understood. It may be related to seizures, as there is often a "rolling skin" effect noticed by owners.

Keep in mind that if you don't find an obvious reason your cat is acting this way, it needs to go to the vet. It may anyway - but this can really get serious because of the risk of infection. 

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