She Thinks She’s a Kitten: Why Cats Chase their Tails

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Some cats chase their tails. This is Gizmo, chasing her own tail. When I took this video, she was 13 years old. One year later, she still thinks she’s a kitten. We have our suspicions about why she’s so “kittenish” at her age, but we really don’t know, other than she’s healthy and happy. And funny. Watch below:

We know that dogs like to chase their tails. Many of us have, or have at least seen, a cat that likes to chase its tail. Gizmo, in the video above, doesn’t chase her tail very much, but when she does, she goes after it for all she’s worth. Why do some cats chase their tails?

Cats chase their tails for a variety of reasons

Dr. Steven Zawistowski, a science adviser with the ASPCA, says that they turn around, or look over their shoulders, see their tails moving, and it’s like seeing prey. He says it’s a natural reaction to want to start chasing it. The tail is a small moving thing, and so they’ll spin around while trying to catch it, the same way they’ll chase small balls that go past them or around them.

Love Meow says it’s also possible that cats chase their tails because they see the motion, and it somehow annoys them. They go after the annoyance, and try to make it stop.

Other reasons cats chase their tails are boredom, seeking attention, and medical problems like skin allergies, fleas, or even impacted or infected anal glands, according to an article on Canidae. They could also have a neurological problem causing the behavior. A cat that’s compulsively chasing her tail might also suffer from feline hyperesthesia syndrome, which is a disorder that makes cats extremely sensitive to touch along their spines and tails. With this disorder, even their own fur can bother them. If you notice that your cat is chasing her tail frequently, and especially if it’s a new behavior, consider taking her to the vet to rule out medical problems.

In Gizmo’s case, this is kitten behavior, despite the fact that she’s now 14 years old. She doesn’t appear to have anything wrong with her tail that would make her chase it, she’s got no symptoms of anything else, and she doesn’t do it very often.

When Cats Scoot Across the Floor

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This is Kali. She likes to scoot across the floor

 

Does your cat scoot across the floor like this? If it’s new, you might want to make an appointment with the vet, because this kind of behavior can indicate a problem. When cats scoot across the floor, they might just be “messy,” and their fur feels so funny that they think they have no other way of getting everything off. Sometimes, though, this can be a sign of impacted anal glands.

Cats have glands that fill up with a smelly, oily substance, which is deposited on their stools. It’s part of why their stools sometimes stink really badly. This is one way that cats mark their territory in the wild. However, according to All Feline Animal Hospital, if their stools are too soft, or too small, to press on the glands, then the glands don’t express, which means they just fill up.

This condition makes cats scoot across the floor because it’s uncomfortable. They’re trying to rid themselves of the “funny” feeling. Other signs of impacted glands are excessive licking, and a foul smell. Because the glands can rupture, it’s important that you take your cat to the vet as soon as possible, should you notice any of these symptoms.

However, sometimes cats scoot across the floor just because. The video above is of our cat, Kali, who will scoot across the floor pretty much every time she has a bowel movement. The first time I noticed it, I asked the vet about it, and she had us bring Kali in for an exam. It turns out that she just likes to try and clean herself by scooting across the floor.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen cats scoot across the floor, so we do have the vet look at her during her annual checkup, just to be sure her scooting behavior is just a little quirk of hers. So far, she’s never had an actual medical problem that causes that. So we just watch and chuckle, and try and take video. She actually seems somewhat embarrassed if we see her do it.