Why Do Cats Like The Base Of Their Tail Scratched?


BetterWithCats.net may earn a small commission when you use one of the links on this page to purchase.
Why Do Cats Like The Base Of Their Tail Scratched

While some people believe cats to be aloof and unapproachable, cat parents know that their feline companion is the exact opposite and that they can go crazy about a lot of things!

Some cats enjoy chasing stuffed mice around the house, while others will spend hours trying to fit into a small box and then there are those who demand pets nonstop.

But what usually unites most cats is the good old butt rub!

So why do cats like the base of their tail scratched? The base of your cat’s tail is highly sensitive, probably because of all the nerves concentrated there. This makes the scratching feel like a tickle and is usually enjoyable, but too much scratching can be over-stimulating and even cause pain.

If you’d like to know more about, why do cats like the base of their tail scratched, keep on reading!

Let’s go!

Why Do Cats Like Being Scratched At The Base Of Their Tail? (Positives)

I don’t think I know another animal out there that can literally enjoy hours of petting as cats do. I mean I’ve seen bears on TV enjoy a good back scratch by a sturdy tree trunk, but I doubt I’d get away alive if I tried rubbing a bear’s back. My cats on the other hand can’t get enough of it and the base of their tail is their petting highlight!

Knowing what our cats like is essential but knowing why they like it could also help you get a better understanding of their needs.

You’re Hitting The Right Spot!

The first and most simple reason behind your cat’s elevated butt as you stroke their back is that they like it. Moreso, according to research, if your cat is ok with you touching them and especially stroking the base of their tail, then you must have a very close relationship and mutual trust.

For some cats, the base of the tail is also a spot they can’t always easily reach so when we scratch them there, it may come as a great relief. Some cats may even raise their butts in response to it. Cats with long fur might find it a difficult place to keep clean and itch-free as well, and when we stroke them, they might see it as a form of assistance.

A great way to help them keep their whole coat polished, reduce hairballs and keep their fur away from your clothes while also turning it pleasurable, is getting a quality grooming brush. We’ve recommended the Hertzko self-cleaning brush before when we discussed ways to reduce cat shedding and it’s a real game-changer! You can check out the latest price (and read some reviews) on Amazon by clicking here.

It’s a Female Cat Behavior

Some cat parents believe that the base of the tail action is more favorable with female cats and not so much with males. Specifically, in intact female cats, it’s associated with mating behavior.

If your kitty is old enough to mate, then during estrus you may notice her behavior change. She may be more affectionate and seeking your attention more frequently by demanding pets and being extra vocal. When stroked your cat may also arch their back, knead the ground with their front paws and stomp their hind legs.

For an inexperienced owner, this might be a sign of affection, or pain, and not actually realizing that petting her at the back may be stimulating the instinctive mating response. Your female cat will also crouch down on her front legs and hold her rear end up, a sign that she’s ready to mate a characteristic position called lordosis.

If your cat is spayed, then this arching of the back might still be part of their inner instinct. On the other hand, both of my cats are male and neutered and they love having their backs stroked, and while intact female cats will definitely go crazy about the back rub, it can still be a part of each cat’s individual personality.

As we always mention here, if you’ve got a cat in heat, you can find a list of low-cost spay/neuter clinics across the globe thanks to PetSmart by clicking here. Taking this step will not only benefit your cat’s health long term, but it will also reduce the number of stray kittens born on the streets, and it’s less likely that your cat will run away from home in pursuit of a mate.

A Kitten Behavior

Another reason why your kitty’s back is so sensitive might go all the way back to their kittenhood when they were groomed by their mother.

Since cats keep some of their early habits throughout their adulthood, so does the raised back can be part of that response to their mother’s grooming.

Showing their butts to their siblings and other cats is also part of their natural instincts. Cat’s rely on scent to understand friend from foe and the general world around them and the anal glands located in their rectum also help them share information about themselves and find more about other cats by sniffing them in turn.

Living with their human friend some cats will continue to use these instinctive behaviors, or they’ll create new ways to communicate with us, just like when they use their meowing!

Why Do Cats Go Crazy When You Scratch Above The Base Of Their Tail? (Negatives)

Finding that your cat goes crazy about certain things is great and it’s a clear sign that you’re doing something right, but even in good things, moderation is important. For example, if your cat goes crazy about tuna or cheese you still can’t indulge them all too often.

You might wonder why do cats like the base of their tail scratched, and failing to see how petting and scratching your cat can turn into something negative and there are a couple of reasons for this to happen.

Your Cat Might Have A Skin Condition

While an itch is common in most animals in the animal Kingdom including us humans, there’s a fine line between simply needing a bit of scratching and actually having a dermatological condition.

According to Karen A. Moriello a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine “the most common causes of itching are parasites, infections, and allergies.” She also explains that there are skin diseases that don’t cause initial itching, but they can be developed due to secondary bacterial and yeast infections.

According to vets, skin diseases are relatively common in cats and studies have shown that “6 and 15 percent of feline patients have at least one dermatopathy and many cats suffer more than one.”

When you scratch your cat’s back and notice a certain reaction like intense meowing, their ears are pressed against their head or they even show signs of aggression then try to gently examine their skin.

There are skin disorders like Seborrhea that affect mostly their back and there are two types, one is dry and the other one oily. Usually, the affected areas of the skin flake off and dandruff can be spotted between the hairs. The skin might appear to be inflamed and red and may feel dry or oily to the touch. Some cats could also have an odor caused by bacteria or yeast skin infections.

Outdoor cats are more prone to skin infections because they can get in contact with other cats that have flees, parasites, and other conditions. But, even if they’re strictly indoor cats they still can get infected, since we can bring some of those nasty things with us. If you notice your kitty being uncomfortable when you pet them in areas, they used to be ok with, then it could be a sign of an infection.

If you notice your cat’s skin condition change, there’s excessive scratching, and their fur looks dull and shaggy, then the best decision is to take your fluffball to the vet. There your kitty will get a proper examination and a few tests that will determine if there’s an actual issue and what’s the best course of action.

Your Cat Is Overstimulated

If there’s no skin infection or medical condition that doesn’t mean your kitty can’t get frustrated with petting or being scratched in a highly sensitive area like the base of the tail. That’s why understanding feline body language is important and it can help you recognize when a boundary is being crossed or what your kitty likes and doesn’t like.

Your kitty might fully enjoy being petted, especially at the back, but the repetitiveness of the petting might become irritating to some. Feline behaviorists and vets state that a cat might even turn and bite their owner to show them they’ve had enough, or they will simply move away.

It’s important to understand that not all cats are cuddly, some like to be cuddled at any given moment while others prefer to be the ones to initiate contact and will get frustrated at their owner making the first move. This could be because of previous trauma, they’re newly adopted, or this could simply be part of who they are.

Take a moment to observe your cat and the way they react to your petting. Be especially perceptive of the warning signs they show you. Before a cat hisses, scratches and bites, or simply walks away they use their body language to tell you to stop.

For example, if your kitty turns their ears back, pressing them flat against their head that means they’re uncomfortable. Notice if the skin or tail is twitching, their pupils are dilated, they’ve unsheathed their claws, and if their overall body has become stiff. Low growling sounds can also be a good indicator that your kitty isn’t comfortable.

“I see a lot of overarousal when it comes to people petting cats,” Tabitha Kucera, a certified cat behavior consultant says and adds, “most cats are actually not really big fans of the very long stroke that we like to do. It’s weird for them.”

Pay attention to your cat’s needs when it comes to petting and cuddling. Perhaps your timing is bad, or you pet them for far too long. Changing the way you pet your kitty can help you rekindle your relationship. Do not scold them cause that’s going to turn this experience into something negative and your cat might begin to avoid you.

Use treats to let them know you mean well and be gentle. If your cat is pulling away don’t push them and be patient. Finding out that your kitty isn’t the cuddly kind might make you sad, but instead of relying on this form of endearment and communication try playing more often with your cat instead.

More Strange Things Your Cat Might Be Doing With Their Tail

Some cats enjoy their backs stroked, while others will never tolerate it, and their reactions in both circumstances can be funny, scary, and sometimes overexaggerated. But having a certain reaction to our touch or presence is something we owners are used to, but it doesn’t mean we’re not baffled by our feline companion’s quirky habits and behaviors.

Sticking Their Butt In Your Face

I’m sure most of us have had more than one close encounter with the feline butt. Whenever my cat decides that they want to sit on my lap, or they’re greeting me early in the morning they tend to show me their behinds as well. I’ve often wondered if that meant that I was at the bottom of the food chain according to my cat, but it seems that it might just be the opposite!

“For cats, it’s normal for them to sniff each other’s butts as a way to say hello or confirm another cat’s identity,” says Dr. Mikel Delgado, a cat expert. “It’s hard for us to relate to, but the smell is much more important to cats and how they recognize each other than vision is. So, cats may be ‘inviting’ us to check them out, or just giving us a friendly hello.”

New research has also shown that cats “may harbor a community of bacterial in their anal sacs to generate volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can travel through the air and serve as a signal. Other cats can smell these compounds. Your cat assumes you can do the same.”

So, while we might all be wrinkling our noses at the sight of our cat’s butt behind, simply remember that it’s part of their love language. If your kitty on the other hand keeps their butt to themselves Amy Shojai, a certified animal behavior consultant explains this as “kitties that keep the tail down and don’t want to be sniffed might be compared to a shy person hiding their face.”

Cats Expressing Anal Sacs When Happy Or Scared

While we’re still on the butt subject your kitty might have another strange behavior, but this time it might be a little bit more stinky.

Male and female cats have two small anal glands located around the entrance of their rear end and they’re consistently filled with fluid, which is completely healthy. This fluid is usually expressed when your cat defecates, and the smell of this liquid basically marks that territory.

Your kitty might spontaneously express this fluid when they’re happy and in a sense, it’s similar behavior to them rubbing their cheeks against something in order to leave their scent and mark it. One of my cats will sometimes surprise me with this expression of happiness when I rub him at the base of the tail.

My other cat on the other hand has done the same thing in situations where he felt scared, like the time I tried to gently put him in his carrier for a vet appointment. This once again is normal behavior for some cats, but it’s important to remember that this part of your kitty also needs attention in case there’s a health issue.

Excessive licking of the rear end area might be a sign of gland infection or inflammation and it might appear red and visibly irritated. Your cat might defecate outside of the litterbox because of discomfort and they might also scoot to relieve the itch in that area. If any of those symptoms seem familiar to you then your kitty is probably in need of a veterinarian checkup.

Why Do Some Cats Lick Themselves Or The Air When You Pet Them?

The reason you may be asking why do cats like the base of their tail scratched is because of a certain funny reaction to it like licking the air or their own fur. Cats might seem quirky and strange, but there’s always a reason behind every behavior even this one! As always because cats don’t have the ability to communicate with us verbally it’s important to pay attention to their body language.

If this happens when you pet them in a certain area usually the base of the tail, then your kitty might be trying to reach that spot as well to clean it or scratch it. It might be similar to when you ask someone to scratch your back, but they never hit that one spot you can’t reach!

Another possible explanation could be that this kind of petting has triggered your cat’s mutual grooming instinct. When kittens are still small they will often groom each other, a habit that may follow them later in life and they can replicate on soft materials, other cats, or their owners. While grooming the air or themselves might seem strange it might actually be proof of how comfortable they are around you.

This kitty is a great example of cuteness and an allogrooming reaction to petting!

Then again, an extreme reaction from your cat, where they’re very vocal, they’re whipping their tail, and they seem overall uncomfortable, means that they most probably want you to stop. That’s why no matter how amusing a cat’s reaction might seem, the most important thing is for your kitty to feel comfortable.

Closing Thoughts

Getting familiar with what your cats like or don’t like is important in order to strengthen your mutual bond and for you to win the top spot as their favorite human!

This might mean that you’ll have to spend a few hours a day petting them and giving them a good rub at the base of their tail, or you’ll have to learn to avoid that spot and learn what else they might enjoy instead.

Either way, learning what our beloved feline overlords like or don’t like is essential and it’s exciting because through them we learn more about ourselves and that everyone has boundaries, no matter how fluffy they are!

Now tell us have you got another explanation as to why do cats like the base of their tail scratched? And finally, does your cat love it or hate it?

Marina Titova

Marina was cat-struck 8 years ago. It was early autumn when Dante, her grey cat, found her and adopted her. They’ve been inseparable ever since. Dante has been a great cat-teacher and BetterWithCats.net seemed like the perfect place to share his cat-knowledge.

Recent Posts