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Please help, cat attacks and bites own tail

June 24th, 2009, 03:12 PM
My 1yr old male cat behaves very strangely. About two months ago, the cat started attacking and biting his own tail quite often. This behaviour occurs now about 50-80% of the time that he spends awake. He usually goes to the center of the room, he would lie on the floor and then his tail would start to jerk and hit the floor up and down. Next, he tries to catch the tail and then he grabs it and bites it; this is often accompanied by loud, violent noises which seem to be the result of his frustration of not being able to catch and hold on to his tail. When I try to pet him while he is engaging in this biting behaviour, the cat is overly aggressive and in a high level of attack mode where he bites and scratches quite severely. Also important to mention is that when I try to distract this behaviour by playing with him and throwing a toy, he would stop, as if forgetting about his tail for a while, and would concentrate on the toy and would chase it. However, when I stop playing with him, he usually returns to biting his tail again. In addition, I can pet him or his tail when he is relaxed or after sleeping and he is not bothered a bit by it.

I went to a veterinarian last week and showed him the video of his tail biting, which Iím attaching a link here. The veterinarian checked him for fleas and ruled it out. Everything else is normal too. He also shaved a small portion of his tail to discover small scab wounds (from his biting). He described the behaviour as a form of self-mutilation and said it is quite serious.

He prescribed him medications: Prednisone 5mg, but expressed that it is not likely to help. He said that if it doesnít help, then we should try Gabatropin which could calm him down. He could not pinpoint the exact reason or the source of my catís problem. It can either be something physical (perhaps pain, itching, or some allergies that are bothering him) or behavioural. After giving him Prednisone for a week, I cannot see any improvement in this behaviour.

From doing some online research, it might be OCD or Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome, however the cat does not over groom himself, nor seem to have rippling skin and racing which accompany the syndrome. He also does not engage in any other repetitive behaviour. The veterinarian was not sure if those conditions are what the cat has.

I really do not know what to do; his behaviour is not improving and he still bites his tail. It is terrible to see him suffer like that. It is becoming difficult to constantly be around him to distract his tail biting and I am not sure what provokes this behaviour.
If someone has any insight into this condition or any ideas, I would sincerely appreciate it.
The cat is neutered and received all the necessary shots.

I am attaching a link to a video posted o n YouTube that I took of my cat while he was engaging in this behaviour:

June 25th, 2009, 03:07 AM
As with other diseases or conditions not all cats with Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome will show all symptoms.

Have you had a full complete blood panel done to rule out underlying conditions?

Have you considered a neurological exam?

Would you consider a Homeopath Vet visit? Conventional vets treat conditions with immune system suppressing drugs that cover up the issue and do not cure it. Homeopathic Vets work to discover the root causes of conditions and treat with homeopathic remedies to correct imbalances and restore health without harmful chemicals.

cat man23
July 2nd, 2009, 08:14 PM
bounty ,

One of my cats did this same thing only worse / she would attack her tail unitl it would bleed when she got in that mode nothing would stop her. It got so bad that she had to have 2 partail tail amputions from the damge she did to it . It last 2 years with us trying every thing from prosac to nereve pain meds with no hope an mri and about $10thousand dollars in late night emergecy vet visits. She was living with a bandge on her tail to stop it. I hope now to give you some good news you can disucss with ur vet to try .

I sent my video to a Dr dodman who is a cat expert look him up he was written many books . This man saved my cat and us to , he suggested we give her keppra at 0.3ml a few times a day . It is something used for focal seizures wich if u look up will be almost exactly what feline hyperista would look like / Since i have given my cat this it has totaly stopped no issues now over a year . The thinking is that most cats that do this have focal sezuires wich is a type that even peole can get. One of the things my cat would always do is stare in to space and would always bang the tail on the floor before attacking it . I want to stress that my cat didnt just playful bite her tail but would attack it to the point that she would take it off if u did not stop her . My cuurent meds that are working wonders are the keppra and clomicalm at 10 mg a day . The colmiacm hepls keep the brain mellow if u like u can im me and ill give u my number to call / to talk moere

July 2nd, 2009, 09:04 PM
There are so many different possibilities. From stress to allergies to medical disorders. A full health panel being done may help you find out what is going on. I have a coworker who has a cat who was absolutely mutilating her tail. She has been put on a mild traquilizer and seems to be doing much better.

This is an article that may shed some answers. Give it a good read.

What are you feeding your cat? Did you recently change his diet? Have there been any major changes in the cat's life? Even minor changes. A new baby. A move. Even a change of furniture is enough to set some cats off. Are there cats outside he can see that could be stressing him? All possibilities. Without an indepth look at all aspects of your cat's life it is next to impossible to figure out what is going on.

Good luck.

July 2nd, 2009, 11:23 PM
Sounds like some irritation in the tail itself, nerve damage perhaps? Cats had tailed stepped on? I had Manx (tailless) cats for many years, and never had this sort of problem with cats biting at their back end.

October 6th, 2016, 02:19 PM

I have searched the internet looking for someone who might have the same problem I have with my kitten. My 8 month old kitten aggressively attacks her tail constantly. It is pretty scary. We have her in a routine, lots of food, lots of toys and playing, perches, she has a cat brother 2 years older. We have even tried all of the calming remedies from the pet store. It didn't get better. Tomorrow is her vet appointment. I am very nervous because I think it will involve a lot of expensive tests with no good solution.

I have read a lot about feline hyperesthesia however I'm not sure that is it, the only symptom of FHS she has is attacking her tail.

These posts are from 2009, but if anyone sees this I would be happy to connect and discuss more details and treatments you have tried whether they worked or didn't work.

Thank you,

October 6th, 2016, 06:43 PM
Our cat had possible OCD and was put on Amytriptline for several months, and then weaned off. Possibly that might help yours.

October 9th, 2016, 02:40 PM
My vet put my kitten on Amitriptyline too! Day 1 of many...I hope it works.

October 9th, 2016, 05:03 PM
I hope it does too. Good Luck

October 25th, 2016, 01:47 PM
Hi Linda.

What kind of OCD did you cat have? Did you do a lot of behaviour modification on top of the medication?

Thank you

October 25th, 2016, 11:29 PM
Our vet wasn't sure if our cat had OCD or allergies to food/etc. He would constantly lick himself to the point of having bald spots and an open sore on his leg. We switched his food, and the vet put him on Amitriptyline in case it was OCD and not allergies. Unfortunately it was too late and he had to have his leg amputated. He stopped licking, though, so gradually we stopped the pills, and were now stopping the unscented litter. Its looking like he was allergic to chicken, so were going to keep him on salmon for good.

How is your cat doing now that shes on the pills, and what type of behavior modification do you have to do?

October 26th, 2016, 08:50 AM
Thanks for sharing your story Linda. I'm sorry your cat had to go through that.

We have a 10 month old kitten named Joy. Her problem is similiar to Bounty's, the first post on this thread. I found the post because of constant searching the internet for anything that might help me help her or for similar stories and Bounty's has been the only one.

Joy aggressively chases and attacks her tail and will do it most of the time she is awake. She screams and hisses at herself, it is terrifying to watch. She has superficial cuts on her tail from "catching" it all the time.

It's not feline hyperesthesia, we believe it is an OCD/behavioural issue/separation anxiety. It started the day we got back from a vacation in the summer. The dogs stayed with family and the cats stayed at home with multiple relatives stopping by a day (Joy has a 3 year old cat brother). She had adjusted well up until our vacation and had started bonding with our other cat, we had no reason to worry about her when we went away.

Joy was also bottle-fed from 2 weeks old, her mother had an unfortunate accident. So there was an increased risk she may have behavioural problems but like I said, she had adjusted well up until our vacation. She must have gotten too stressed out from not having us there despite all of the visitors.

So she has been on Amitriphyline for 2 weeks now, haven't noticed an improvement yet. Most of my time at home is spent trying to keep her busy and trying to figure out the right times to either ignore her behaviour so it's not reinforced or distract her with play so that she doesn't hurt herself.

October 26th, 2016, 09:47 AM
It does sound like OCD, but with a cat its hard to tell. We had a cat that was separated from the mother (she was killing the kittens) and had to be bottle fed at 6 hours old. He grew up with some odd behavior issues, but was the best cat we ever had. He just died last month at 17.

I would give the meds a little longer to kick in, is Joy ANY calmer since shes been on them? Leave it to a cat to punish you for going vacation, your not allowed to do that ever, ever again unless you take her with you.

October 26th, 2016, 10:29 AM
We were expecting some funny quirks because of being bottle-fed. We are really engaged and attentive pet owners, I thought if anyone could handle odd cat behaviour it would be us but we were not prepared for this!

She hasn't been any calmer since starting the meds. And even the meds have been difficult. We started with tablets (cut in half) but it was next to impossible to give them to her. She moves so much even if we got it in her mouth she would spit it out then start to foam from the bitter taste. I switched to the liquid version after a week but we still struggle. I can't do it myself because she squirms so much and then runs away so my boyfriend has to hold her while I give her the medication. Even then we usually both get scratched and she still foams up. I'm sure it is stressing her out but I think attacking her tail stresses her out more so I'm going to keep trying to make administering her medication an easier process.

Haha I know I wish I could just bring her everywhere :)

October 26th, 2016, 03:18 PM
I didn't know the meds came in liquid. Did you try a pill pocket, one of my cats falls for it, the others no. When I pilled Spencer I would use a pill dispenser that you can put towards the back of the mouth and push the top, this way its not your finger getting bit. It didn't always work, he would foam occasionally, too. Try holding on to the fur on the back of his neck when medicating, that helps somewhat, and I would always give him wet food after to make sure the pill went down.

Have you tried a laser light to distract her when shes going after her tail? How long did your vet think it would take the meds to start working, if they do?

October 27th, 2016, 11:11 AM
She doesn't fall for the pill pocket, the first time she ate around it and now she doesn't even touch it. We had the pill dispenser but still struggled. It is a bit better with the liquid, last time I mixed in some salmon juice and water and she didn't foam as much.

We don't have a laser pointer but we have other toys we use. We have also been ignoring her completely when she does it, before we had distracted her right away when she was attacking her tail, wait a few seconds for her to calm down, then play. But I think we may have been reinforcing her behaviour accidentally.

The vet had said we should notice a change within the month. It has been 2.t weeks now. Last night was the best she has been since her problem started! We will see how the next few days go, I'll be relieved once I know we are going in a good direction.

October 27th, 2016, 06:42 PM
. As a last resort, if nothing else works, I would try squirting her with a water bottle when she attacks her tail. I wish you luck