My (somewhat feral) cat is attacking her tail

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TCS Member
hi there,

I have been feeding stray cats for the past 3 years as i live in the basement and have access to a tiny backyard in NY. There used to be 2 cats coming to my window for the past year (mom and her kitten). The mom recently abondend the now 1.5 year old. Since she was beating him up, i took him to the vet and had him checked. They bagged me to take him in as he seems fairly friendly (i have always been able to ped him and he even came into the kitchen before a few times). So i took him in and it all went well so far until i had a visitor staying with me while i had to leave for a trip to Europe. He seemed really afraid of y friend at the beginning but did get used to her while i was gone. When I came back, I realized that he was attacking his tail (which did not look like playing at all). I checked out his tail and it felt bumpy. I went to a vet, they shaved his tail and yes he was biting and scratching his own tail. First the vet only gave me an ointment but he got more aggressive and seems afraid of his tail whenever he moves too much. The vet now prescribed gabapentin. I have given it to him for almost 10 days now (The vet said it takes 14 days to kick in- if it does not help, we need to give gim prozac). He is still not better. He is a bit calmer sometimes and very sweet but when he gets his moments, he really becomes aggressive. Everytime I leave now he has to wear a collar which he hates. I just wonder now if i should let him out in the backyard and keep feeding him like I used to (the mom is gone already). Not sure I mentioned this he lived outside the past year and has now been inside for 2 months. He did not seem too unhappy with it but I feel like he is acting up as wants to go out? The vet said that is not the reason. If it reallly is not, I would for sure keep him indoors as they all say it is safer for him. Does anybody here have experience with this? Do you think it is an illness that needs to be taken care of with prescriptions or does one just have to set them free?

Oh and again : he is feral but really does not act extremly feral even the vet said that.

Appreciate your input.




TCS Member
Young Cat
Since you have successfully turned him into an indoor cat, my suggestion would be to keep him that way. It'll be much safer. The behavior you describe is probably an OCD-type behavior that is triggered by stress. He may have experienced separation anxiety when you were gone. With cats, they often engage in a displacement behavior as a self-soothing mechanism.

You may need to talk to your veterinarian about other medication to ease his anxiety. Also, incorporate daily interactive play sessions using a fishing pole toy. If you're going to go out of town again, ask anyone who stays with your cat to engage in that playtime as well. I would also increase the environmental enrichment for your cat. He needs things to do that are constructive and will work as better displacement activities for his anxiety and energy. Get some puzzle feeders and set them up so the cat has to "work" for food in a fun way. There are several great cat puzzle feeders on the market. Also, set up fun activities like paper bag tunnels or boxes. Even a cat entertainment DVD might be something your cat would enjoy.

Pam Johnson-Bennett, CCBC
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