Why Does My Cat Act Weird When I Touch The Base Of Its Tail? – 8 Reasons Why and Suss Your Felines Tail Language

why does my cat act weird when i touch the base of its tail
Close-up portrait of a surprised multicolored cat. A family pet.

Why does my cat act weird when I touch the base of its tail? The closeness this spot has to the spine means there are many nerve endings and your cat is likely to be responding to the stimuli of the touch. However, our feline friends are never easy to understand, and this characteristic is no exception.

As both new and experienced cat owners will testify, cats behave in a weird way when you scratch the base of their tail.

Cats usually respond to various stimuli in different ways. Some cats might respond aggressively to you scratching the base of their tail, some might love it, and some might not react to it at all.

We’ll use this article to outline the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of this behavior to help you make more sense of your pet and their eccentric nature.

Before we begin with that though, let’s take a look at the mechanism of your cat’s posterior chain.

Why Does My Cat Act Weird When I Touch the Base of Its Tail?- What’s So Special?

A cat’s back is usually very receptive. 

The proximity to the spine means that there is an abundance of nerve endings and nerve fibers that run across the back making it perceptive to things like touching and rubbing. This is quite similar to the way human anatomy works.

Humans also have a plethora of nerves located around our spinal region which is a big reason why the back is such a popular area for treatments like massages and acupuncture.

Some parts of a cat’s back have a higher concentration of nerve endings than others. This explains why cats are sensitive near their tail. The higher nerve fiber count in that specific area makes it more responsive to prompts like being petted or rubbed at the base.

Responsive and sensitive body parts are usually more prone to itching and skin complications as well. Cats are particularly affected by this as they might be rolling around in dirt or infected areas that make this problem even more likely.

Why do Cats Like Being Scratched at the Base of Their Tail?

Pleasure

The simplest reason is that it just feels good.

Like we previously explained, cats are sensitive near their tail and scratching the area is relaxing and pleasurable for them. 

According to studies, physical grooming and affection releases a hormone called oxytocin. This compound helps reinforce and generate feelings of bonding, love, and emotional attachment.

You know how this feels if you’ve ever gotten a shoulder rub after a long day of work. The muscles get tense and rubbing or massaging the area eases a lot of that built-up tension.

Why not help your cat feel good with the Happi N Pets Premium Cat Arch Self Groomer during a long day alone whilst you’re at work or just simply doing life. It can also help keep your home hair free, so winning all round!

Another possible reason is that it may feel sensually pleasing to your cat as your feline’s sex organs are in very close proximity to the tail. 

Itchy Skin

If your cat spends most of its time outside there’s a good chance that the accumulation of dirt or fleas makes the area very itchy for them. You don’t need us to tell you how good it feels to scratch an itch and cats definitely feel the same way when you scratch them under the chin or at the tail base.

Hard to Reach Spot

Tying into our last point, the base of a cat’s tail is a tough spot to reach for most felines. This makes grooming and maintenance for that spot difficult for your cat. When you scratch this area, it is a foreign sensation for your cat as this is not felt very frequently. The novelty factor makes it interesting and can be pleasurable and comforting.

The Sweet Spot

Most cats have uniquely specific spots on their body that they are hypersensitive to. If you find this spot and scratch it, your cat will respond very well and will most likely love the feeling and sensation. For a lot of cats, this ‘magic’ spot is usually located near the base of the cat’s tail.

Genetic Predisposition

Some cats just like being scratched and petted in general. This varies wildly from breed to breed and even on an individual basis. Some cats are so docile and friendly that they will let their owners play with them in almost any scenario or circumstance while others won’t even entertain a pat on the back.

Why do Some Cats Dislike Being Scratched at the Base of Their Tail?

Problematic Skin or Condition

If your cat has irritated skin or some preexisting injury located at the back of its tail, then it will not take kindly to any sort of scratching or petting. It will be painful and could greatly exacerbate the condition if you don’t catch it and try to fix it early on. A visit to the vet is highly recommended if you fear your pet has a skin condition.

Too Sensitive

In certain cases, your cat might be prone to overstimulation. This is a condition where your cat reacts very strongly to petting or scratching because of its genetic capacity. Actions like this should be reconsidered in such cases as your cat will not react positively to them.

It Reminds Them of Mating

For female cats, the process and experience of mating can be uncomfortable and painful. Like we previously mentioned, the base of a cat’s tail might be considered as an erogenous spot and can invoke sexual characteristics that remind your cat of the mating process itself. This might not be a welcome or comfortable feeling for her to experience.

Weird Body Language Signs

Tail Movement

A cat’s tail is incredibly expressive and is usually the first thing to look at when trying to gauge your cat’s behavior and mood signals.

If your cat starts tucking its tail when you scratch it then this is usually a reliable distress signal that your cat is not enjoying the feeling and you should probably stop. 

On the other hand, if your cat’s tail gets straight and pointed then there’s a good chance your scratching and petting is being enjoyed and is welcome. 

Licking

If your cat tries to lick you when you scratch their lower back, then this is another good sign that your fondling is being appreciated. Cats usually view humans as equals and licking is a sign of love and trust in feline terms.

Back Arching

Back arching is a common cat response to scratching. If your cat is arching its back and the hair on its body is standing up, then stop what you’re doing because your cat doesn’t like it. Cats usually arch their backs when they feel threatened or defensive and scratching could make them feel this way.

Vocalization

An animal’s vocal capacity is another great way to understand its feelings and behavior. Purring and mewing is a strong sign that your cat is loving the attention. Growling and low toned sounds signal the opposite and you should stop what you’re doing if these sounds are heard.

‘Elevator butt’

If your cat lowers the front of its body and raises its rear, then this is a great sign that you’ve found a great spot to scratch. This is a normal cat behavioral tendency, and while slightly offensive, should not be a cause of concern. 

If you have a female cat though, this characteristic might signal your cat’s readiness for mating as this is another common practice that is used in such cases.

The Tail-End…..

We hope this article has helped you figure out the ‘why’ and identify the ‘how’ and of course answered your question of why does my cat act weird when I touch the base of its tail.

For more helpful tips and advice, be sure to check out the rest of our site, you may be interested to find out ‘why do cats bite their owners for no reason’.

Please feel free to share this resource with other cat owners who might have the same questions. If you have other queries or thoughts don’t forget to leave them down in the comments.

Knowing is always half the battle and if you recognize your cat’s unpredictable habits and idiosyncrasies you’re one step closer to ensuring that your beloved pet is treated with care and consideration in all situations.

And if you can do that then you, and your cat, deserve a pat on the back.

Lucie Wilkins

Lucie is a qualified RVN (Registered Veterinary Nurse) with over 10 years experience working with cats. She has had a cat companion or two in the house for as long as she can remember. Read more about Lucie here.

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