Why Do Cats Chase Their Tails?

Have you ever seen your adorable little cat chasing their tail, round and round, for what seems like hours? In our opinion, the fun, playful nature of this behavior is one of the best things about being a cat owner. It’s so rare to see them not napping!

But why do cats chase their tails? What are they getting from this behavior? If you want to know and understand more about your cat, then keep reading. 

The Reason Cats Chase Their Tails

Many people associate chasing their tails with dogs rather than cats, but many cats do this too. While cats might get a bad rep for being independent, they are still active little creatures who enjoy playing around. 

The reason why they chase their tails is not always definitive, however, and there may be a few reasons why cats might start to exhibit this behavior. Here are five reasons why your cat might be chasing their tail. 

1. Relieving Stress Or Boredom 

Cats don’t like to feel stressed or bored, just like humans, so they will do what they can to alleviate these feelings. When a cat is stressed, they like to get these feelings out on something near to them, so they might start scratching or biting. 

Similarly, for bored cats, they will want to find something to stimulate them. If there is nothing else around them to help with this, they might resort to chasing their tails. 

If you think that your cat is stressed or bored, you should look into what is causing this. Is it because they have no stimulation in their environment? Are they feeling lonely? These are all questions that you need to ask yourself before making any changes to your cat’s living situation.

It is important to prevent your cat from these negative feelings. Don’t just think that they’re fine as they have their tail to chase when they’re bored or stressed. While their tail is a good plaything for now, it won’t be the long term answer. 

Cats who have these feelings tend to take it out on furniture and your belongings before long. To keep your home free of scratch marks, get your cat somewhere that they can hang out and have fun by themselves. 

A cat tree is a great option as it has multiple platforms in which your cat can jump around on, as well as scratching posts for them to take their negative feelings out on. 

Make sure that you interact with your cat and play with them so that they don’t get lonely as well as bored! We like using a laser point pen to play with our cat as she can chase it for hours. 

If your cat is stressed, try and find the cause of it – is there a new addition to the family? Have you recently moved house? Once you have the root of the problem, try and alleviate it for your cat. No one likes being stressed, so let’s help our pets relieve stress too. 

2. They’re Practicing To Hunt

Cats are natural hunters, so they might just be practicing on their tails. This is actually much more desirable for owners than the alternative, which is the cat hunting real life prey and bringing it back into the house. 

Your cat might have seen its tail twitch in the corner of its eye and pounced before they knew what they were doing. Hunting their tails is also more common in indoor cats as outdoor cats tend to practice on real animals. 

Hunting their tails is completely normal behavior and nothing to worry about, so just let them get on with it! 

3. Simply Playing 

Cats love to play to get some of their energy out. As they are natural born hunters, cats enjoy chasing things rather than toys that are stationary. What better toy to play with than one that is already attached to you and therefore continues to move? 

When you’re too busy to play with your cat, their tails can be a great replacement. Again, there is nothing wrong with this behavior. The only thing that might cause an issue is when your cat gets frustrated at not being able to catch the toy. However, they should resolve this on their own by stopping the game and moping around for a while. 

4. Calming Symptoms Of Pain

A cat’s tail is one of the more common places for them to get injured. It is very easy for them to accidentally hit something hard enough to hurt them, such as a door frame. When this happens, it could be painful for your cat. 

While it may look like your cat is chasing their tail, they might actually be nursing it and trying to take care of it. If your cat is moving slowly trying to catch their tail and focusing a lot of their time on biting, scratching, and licking it, then they might be in pain. 

If you think that this is the case, take your cat to the veterinarian immediately. Some cat ailments go unnoticed when it comes to their tails, sometimes even resulting in amputation. 

5. Cat OCD

Most of the time when cats are chasing their tails, it is harmless fun. However, there are a few rarer cases of a disease called Feline Hyperesthesia, which is otherwise known as cat OCD. 

Symptoms might include dilated pupils, hyperactive spells, fixation on their tails, hypersensitive to touch, and running from an invisible threat. 

Again, if you notice any of these behaviors, talk to a vet immediately. 


Overall, cats often chase their tails for a number of reasons. Some are harmless fun, but others need your attention. 

If your cat seems bored or stressed, it would be humane to alleviate these issues for them with toys and removing the stressful situation. Take your cat to the veterinarian if you think that they are showing signs of cat OCD. 

Otherwise, you are free to let them practice their hunting and play with their tails. If there is no underlying cause, make sure to enjoy their cuteness before they go back to sleeping!

Courtney Trent
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