DEAR JOAN — What do you know about cats chasing their tails?
Our cat, who found us and said "I live here now, feed me," has chased his tail (before), although only one or two times. Within the last week he seems to be aggressively going after his tail.
I know this is worrisome. Obviously, I need to take him to the vet. To be sure I get the right diagnosis, what questions should the vet be looking at?
Joan, Palo Cedro, California
DEAR JOAN: It's normal for kittens to chase their tails, but less common in adult cats. Anytime a pet starts exhibiting a strange, unexplained behavior, it's time for a visit with the vet.
Your regular vet should be able to handle it. If you don't have a vet, look for one that specializes in small animals or cats. It's possible — not likely, but possible — that you'll need a specialist, but this is a good starting point.
The tail chasing could be something benign, such as the cat being bored. He might also have a flea problem. Fleas are known to congregate at the base of the tail, causing itching and irritation. Your cat could be trying to get to the itchy spot.
Your cat might also have an anal infection or an infection on the tail that is causing itching and discomfort.
A less likely reason could be allergies, either from food or something in the environment. They can cause itchy or sensitive skin throughout the body. You'd most likely see a rash or ear infection if your cat is suffering from an allergic reaction.
You didn't say whether your cat has been neutered, but if he hasn't, the tail-chasing could be a sign of a supracaudal gland infection. Sebaceous glands secrete oils that help keep your cat's coat nice and silky, but they can lead to an accumulation of waxy material usually at the base of the tail, which is more common in intact males. Check for matted, crusty hair there.
Some cats have a rare disease called hyperesthesia syndrome, which is overactive nerve endings that can cause tingling and discomfort when touched.
Otherwise, tail chasing shouldn't be a significant issue, although it can cause injuries if the cat is too aggressive.
Dog days of travel: 6 accessories for a trip with pups
Pack the travel bag with fun
Hit the road with enrichment toys and accessories that feed pup’s spirit while soothing his soul. SodaPup offers a collection of American-made, FDA-compliant items, including natural rubber chew toys that double as treat dispensers. The corn on the cob treat dispenser ($11.99) helps focus a dog’s energy, calms anxiety and provides a puzzle as he figures out how to get to the food inside.
For power chewers, the mod bone ($10.99) has small holes that can be filled with peanut butter or other soft foods and lets your dog go to town, chewing as aggressively as he likes while discouraging problem chewing. An enrichment mat ($11.99) featuring a fun jigsaw pattern can also be spread with a soft treat to entertain, reduce anxiety and promote fresh breath. sodapup.com
The don’t-leave-home-without-it kit
Pack Animal Essentials’ natural pet travel kit ($39) for those little hiccups that seem to accompany any trip. Formulas include Tranquility Blend, Super Immune and Daily Digestion — a certified-organic combo of peppermint, fennel seed, chamomile and ginger root, for fresh breath and a healthy tummy.
Each all-natural herbal remedy can be served on little Wellness Bite treats, made with wholesome ingredients and designed to absorb up to 20 drops of the tincture formulas. Each kit includes three 1-oz formula bottles and the Wellness Bites and comes in a hemp-gusseted zipper bag. animalessentials.com
Bring along PupShow’s orthopedic cuddler bed (from $54.95), a puffy, fluffy new favorite spot for him to snooze. Running from small to extra-extra-large, the beds are made from human-grade materials and designed to ease joint pain. These cuddle cups are also proven to ease anxiety, creating a sense of security that will have pups nodding off almost as soon as they make their nest – thanks to the construction of the bed’s center. It is made of multiple pieces a puppy can happily rearrange or dig into to find his most comfortable position. The bed has a protective and waterproof (and washable) foam cover (no zipper) with a non-skid, rubberized bottom. pup-show.com
Travel like a (furry) king
Pups travel in comfort and style with Bark n Bag’s fashionable and eco-friendly CheckerBarc pet carrier ($80/small; $85/medium) in hand-loomed cotton canvas. Featuring locking zipperheads and ventilating mesh on two sides, the carrier has a machine-washable polar fleece liner, plus top and side entries and roomy pockets. It is a comfortable carry with padded handle wrap and shoulder strap. Bonus: it fits under most airline seats. barknbag.com
Unleash your dog’s style
From Wolfgang Man & Beast’s aptly named GreatEscape collection are a collar, leash and comfort harness (from $19.99) featuring outdoor-themed patterns that inspire trotting off into the great unknown. These machine-washable dog accessories are designed to work together to give the human and the human’sBFF a sense of security while also giving Fido a style upgrade. wolfgangusa.com
A spa treatment in hand
Pamper your pooch with the award-winning HandsOn Gloves’ all-in-one shedding, bathing and grooming mitts ($24.99). Not only do these nylon gloves with their non-abrasive rubber nodules quickly clean up pup after a day at the park, beach or trails, but they also let you give him a gentle, relaxing rub-down. The gloves come in multiple sizes and wear comfortably, with scrubbing nodules on the palms and fingers and a secure hook-and-loop fastener. They stimulate circulation and distribute natural oils for a healthy skin and coat. handsongloves.com