Dear Dr. Baum —
My cat Drew bites the end of his tail until it bleeds. He goes crazy and starts running around the house. His eyes get big and he starts panting. We try wrapping it up with paper and tape and it works for a bit but then when we go to take it off he bites it again. Please help me understand why he is doing this. Does he need to get his tail removed?
Sha, Port Richey FL.
Dear Sha —
Sometimes the biting at the tip of the tail is related to obsessive/compulsive behavior and sometimes it is related to true physical discomfort. If it is related to a behavioral disorder, amputating the tail may only serve to transfer the biting to the remaining stump. If the biting is related to a physical problem such as flea bite irritation, controlling the fleas and giving a shot of cortisone may suffice. If the end of the tail has been damaged physically — there is a circulatory problem — then amputating the diseased portion would help. You need to have your cat examined and give the attending doctor a good and accurate history about the cat and especially its disposition and behavioral traits. If the cat is indeed obsessive/compulsive, then anti-anxiety medications such as phenobarbitol or amitryptaline might be helpful. Have your cat examined!!