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Is this just playful behaviour or are they unaware that it's their own body part ?

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  • $\begingroup$ The question is too generic. I have had cats who had no interest in their own tail. The answer would probably have to do with animal psychology. It might even be a bit philosophical. $\endgroup$ – takintoolong Nov 26 '18 at 2:19
  • $\begingroup$ @takintoolong re: "I have had cats who had no interest in their own tail." thank you. although this is kind of obvious, I will edit the question to reflect your comment, just in case $\endgroup$ – summerrain Nov 26 '18 at 19:38
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I will try to answer this. First of all we have to make a claim. This behavior can be found in many animals behaviors but it is much more common in dogs.


In cats there is a few reason for that:

Born hunter

Feline predators have a genetic desire to chase anything what is moving. So the chasing tail behavior can be just game for practising hunting skills.

OCD

But if this behavior doesn't stop after the cat grew up it might be a serious problem. Just like any compulsion behavior in general it might indicate that your lovely cat has obsessive compulsive disorder. If this is the case, your pet can become much more aggressive, hyperactive.


Source

Perfect Paws: Predatory Behavior of Cats

Psychology Today: It's Alive! Why Cats Love Laser Pointers

Pet Place: Feline Hyperesthesia (FHS)

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