A problem that resonates with many sphynx cats is the fact that they chew, bite or suck on their tails. This leaves many sphynx owners unaware and confused because they dont understand the reason behind this action. At first glance this behavior can be overlooked, but with persistence the behavior can worsen and your sphynx could injure its tail.
In this guide we take a closer look at some of the possible reasons why sphynx cats chew on their tails with ways to prevent or control this behavior.
Sphynx cats can chew, bite or suck on their tails for several reasons. Most common causes are skin related issues, behavioral problems or anxiety caused actions. These issues can result in efforts to provide relief. Lets take a closer look at possible causes to accurately diagnose the problem that’s affecting your sphynx.
1. Feline Hyperesthesia.
Underlying skin issues can be a possible reason for your sphynx chewing on its tail. Feline hyperesthesia is a syndrome that increases the sensitivity of cats skin along the lower back right down to their tail. This causes irritability or hypersensitivity, causing them to attack their tail or rather chew on it for some kind of relief.
Sometimes the sensitivity can result in a tingling sensation or uneasiness around the lower back towards the tail, which can leave the cat in a state of frustration. This can cause the cat to bite its tail causing severe damage which can lead to infection. In this situation the cat will need medical attention and treatment to alleviate the symptoms.
2. Feline Acne.
Acne is a common issue in sphynx cats due to the fact they are hairless and their skin is fully exposed to dirt, dust and debris. As a result their pores get clogged, causing acne and other skin related issues.
Another possible cause could be dry or damaged skin caused by excessive bathing or with the use of fragrant shampoos. All these skin issues make it uncomfortable for the cat and they respond to it by scratching. A possible cause for sphynx cats consistently biting or attacking its tail
3. Stud Tail.
This is caused by sebaceous glands near the cats tail that excrete excessive oils. The result is a greasy, rancid-smelling waxy brown material at the top of the tail near the base. The cat will feel irritable in that area and will try to sooth it with sucking or biting on their tail.
This condition is most often found in Un-neutered males, but fixed males and females can get it as well. Treatment involves neutering your Sphynx cat, and a daily wash with an antiseborrheic shampoo.
4. Behavioral Problems.
Behavioral problems in felines can present in a variety of ways. One of the ways can be compulsive biting of an object, toy or even body part. In this situation it could mean that the cats tail is the target object.
Your sphynx will resort to biting, chewing or sucking on its tail whenever they feel grieved, angry or bored. It can also happen when they have too much unused energy and the biting can be a way to release the energy.
Normally other symptoms that are displayed with a behavioral disorder are increased aggression, mood swings and defecation. If these are some of the symptoms that are evident in your sphynx together with the biting of its tail, consult with a behavioral therapist to start a treatment plan.
5. Skin inflammation / Dermatitis.
Skin inflammation can be caused by parasites, injury or irritation to the skin. This causes the skin to become red and itchy. The cat will respond to it by biting or chewing to relieve itself. Parasites such as fleas and mites can cause severe irritation to the skin thus causing the cat to bite or chew compulsively.
Another possible cause could be dermatitis. This causes the skin to become red, dry and swollen. In some cases the skin will develop blisters which are itchy and uncomfortable. Your sphynx will try to sooth itself by biting or even licking on it.
6. Relieves Anxiety
Your sphynx could be targeting its tail as a self soothing strategy. Some cats are very anxious and fearful, when faced with a stressful situation or with a change in routine. They can become very fragile and disoriented. They will look for an escape and excessive biting or other unfamiliar behavior can be the way that they deal with it.
This could be a possible cause of your sphynx attacking its tail. It’s a coping mechanism which helps them deal with the stress.
7. For Fun.
Sphynx cats are known for their playful ways and their burst of energy. They are active and biting of their tail could be a way to keep themselves busy. This could be caused by boredom or the lack of interactive toys.
Vets recommended that if the cat isnt causing harm to itself then its probably nothing to worry about, however if this behavior becomes compulsive it should be sorted out. Some of the ways you can entertain your sphynx is with good interactive toys that will feed their curiosity.
Normal toys wont keep them occupied, rather go for toys that have motion. These toys will feed of their predatory instincts. Keeping them occupied and also causing a distraction so they wont resort to biting or chewing of their tail.
Ways to Stop A Sphynx Cat from Biting its Tail.
Before you can find a possible solution to the problem you have to find the cause. They are so many different causes and distinctive symptoms that can be used to diagnose the problem. Below are few methods that will help to stop your sphynx cat from attacking or interfering with its tail.
For every cause, there is a specific solution to help treat or prevent this behavior.
1. Solutions To Health Related Issues.
Possible health issues that can cause a sphynx to bite its tail is hyperesthesia. Symptoms include hypersensitivity around the cats back towards the tail, increased aggression, excessive grooming, tail chasing, vocalizations and scratching. Even though at times these symptoms can be so direct and easy to diagnose, you are required to visit your local veterinarian to confirm the diagnosis.
To treat hyperesthesia in felines your vet may prescribe a serotonin-enhancing drug to help stabilize the cats mood and ease symptoms. The vet may also administer anti-inflammatory medications to help with sensitivity and skin inflammation.
2. Feline Acne.
The treatment of acne involves the removal of blackheads as well as the use of top antibacterial washes. The main cause of Acne is caused by lack of routine baths. Especially sphynx cats who are hairless, they secrete oils which are not absorbed. This attracts dirt and bacteria, which clogs the pores and cause acne.
Part of the treatment involves regular bathing with the appropriate feline shampoos. You can also use a antiseborrheic shampoo to cleanse the affected area. They are also a range of gels and cooling lotions to help reduce swelling, redness and itching.
3. Stud Tail.
Treatment involves neutering your Sphynx cat, and a daily wash with an antiseborrheic shampoo to help cleanse the affected area. For instant relief you can use warm water and a soft cloth to soothe the area.
As a preventative, your sphynx will need regular bathing and a proper skin routine to remove blackheads, dirt and oils that may clog the pores on the skin.
4. Solutions To Behavioral Problems.
Normally behavioral problems occur over a period of time and to accurately diagnose it you need to do screening to find a pattern. Once all medical issues are ruled out your vet will take a closer look towards behavior patterns. As the owner, if you feel your sphynx is biting or sucking on its tail consistently in a compulsive way, then it’s best to seek medical advice immediately.
If your sphynx is diagnosed with behavioral issues, the vet will refer you to a behavioral therapist to start a treatment plan specifically for your sphynx. The therapist will try to develop strategies to modify the cats behavior. Improvement is generally a slow and gradual process. Treatment for abnormal behaviors takes time and commitment from pet owners. Quick fixes or “magic pills” do not exist for behavior problems.
5. Skin Inflammation / Dermatitis.
Dermatitis or skin inflammation can be extremely itchy and uncomfortable. Symptoms include red skin with itchy bumps. This can also be caused by several factors including allergies or too much exposure to the sun, which may result as sunburns. This will cause the sphynx to excessively groom and scratch itself.
Treatment will involve bathing with special shampoos to remove the particles of the substance from the skin and apply a topical corticosteroid to the cleansed skin to relieve symptoms.
If anxiety is the cause of your sphynx attacking its tail then you need to address the problem before the cat causes damage to itself. To help with anxiety you can use a calming spray that will help soothe anxiety, leaving them in a state of euphoria.
The other option is to use an anxiety jacket which will gently compress the cat bringing about a calming affect.
7. For Fun.
Once your vet have ruled out all medical causes or behavioral problems and still cannot find a cause. Its likely that the cat is attacking its tail as a force of habit or to keep busy. The use of good interactive toys can help distract the cat from its tail, keeping them occupied.
If the toys are interesting enough to catch the cats attention, you will see a gradual change in the interest of the cat towards its tail.