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DEAR JOAN – What do you know about cats chasing their tails?

Our cat, who found us and said “I live here now, feed me” chased its tail (before), albeit only once or twice. Over the past week, he seems to be aggressively lashing out at his tail.

I know this is worrying. Obviously I have to take her to the vet. To be sure of getting the correct diagnosis, what questions should the vet ask?

Joan, Palo Cedro, California

DEAR JEANNE: It is normal for kittens to chase their tails, but less common in adult cats. Whenever an animal begins to exhibit strange and unexplained behavior, it is time to see the vet.

Your regular veterinarian should be able to handle this. If you don’t have a vet, look for one who specializes in small animals or cats. It’s possible – unlikely, but possible – that you need a specialist, but it’s a good place to start.

Tail chasing could be something benign, like the bored cat. He could also have a flea problem. Fleas are known to congregate at the base of the tail, causing itching and irritation. Your cat might be trying to reach the itch point.

Your cat may also have an anal infection or a tail infection that is itchy and discomforting.

A less likely reason could be allergies, either food-borne or something in the environment. They can cause itchy or sensitive skin all over the body. You will likely see a rash or an ear infection if your cat is suffering from an allergic reaction.

You haven’t said if your cat has been spayed, but if he hasn’t, tail chase could be a sign of an uppertail gland infection. The sebaceous glands secrete oils that help keep your cat’s coat nice and silky, but they can lead to a build-up of waxy material usually at the base of the tail, which is more common in intact males. Check out the tangled and crusty hair there.

Some cats suffer from a rare condition called hyperesthesia syndrome, which is overactive nerve endings that can cause tingling and discomfort to touch.

Otherwise, tail chasing shouldn’t be a big problem, although it can cause injury if the cat is too aggressive.

DEAR JOAN: I have read your column and have always paid attention to your advice to people regarding the health of their pets. I laughed at the one about a cat watching TV, because I have three chihuahuas that do that.

When we go to bed and start watching TV, two of them are watching TV in case they show any four-legged animals. They bark loudly and go to the end of the bed, trying to jump into the TV. I have to watch with the remote in hand and my finger on the channel button. When a horse or cow shows up, the two simply turn their heads, as if trying to identify them. Until now, birds, dolphins or fish are not important to them.

Julio, Livermore, CA

DEAR JULIO: So far, my Chihuahua has only reacted to one TV offer, an ad that sounds like a swordfish. This one really showcases it. Not sure if this is the sound or a review of the ad.

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