It often affects unaltered or “intact male cats but can also be seen in unneutered males and females.“ as Petmd.com notes. It is prevalent in unneutered male cats especially during puberty due to the increased hormonal activities as they are becoming studs or capable of breeding.
It is unclear why the condition can affect neutered males or females. A good guess would be hormonal imbalances.
The overproduction of sebum by the supracaudal gland located at the base of the cat’s tail causes this skin disease. A key reason why it affects this area. However, it can affect other areas that have sebaceous glands.
In normal circumstances, sebum produced by the supracaudal gland lubricates your furry friend's coat making it shiny and supple. It is the overproduction that becomes a problem.
This excess sebum production is often triggered by male sex hormones – androgen, a reason why it is prevalent in the unneutered felines as already mentioned.
Is stud tail painful or contagious
As Wagwalking.com notes, the “area can become infected, raw, and very sore,” i.e., it happens in case of secondary infections including to the supracaudal gland. Crusting may also be expected. If there are no infections, the condition will generally be painless.
Looking at the trigger, it is evident that this condition is not contagious. However, if an infection sets in, the specific skin infection could be contagious but not the overproduction of sebum.
Symptoms of stud tail in cats will manifest themselves at the base of the tail, and they will include the following:
- Greasy hair that may at times mat on the dorsal tail surface.
- Crusting of the skin around the affected area
- The cat loses hair on the base of the tail.
- Blackheads or comedones on the skin around this area due to clogged hair follicles
- The tail base may have waxy substances
- Skin infections
- A foul smell
- Brown flakes and darkened skin surface
- Swollen, red, raw skin near or on the base of the feline’s tail
- Presence of pus in extreme cases
- Cats with fur that is light-colored may experience some yellowing.
These are some of the common symptoms you may notice. Your cat may have some or all these symptoms.
Diagnosis is by physical observation conducted by a veterinary professional to be able to rule out other causes such as skin infections as well as treat any secondary infections that may set in due to the stud tail.
- Expect questions on the observations you have made concerning your furry friend's health, its gender, whether it is neutered or not, and so on.
- There will be a thorough examination of the affected area and touching it to see if the cat is sensitive (often occurs if it is painful).
- A skin biopsy may be conducted to rule out specific infection, i.e., bacterial cultures for bacterial infections and for conditions such as ringworms, and demodectic mange you may need fungal cultures.
- Also, bite wounds and flea infestation must be ruled out.
Stud Tails in Cat treatments
The treatment options to deal with supracaudal gland infection will depend on the severity and whether there is an infection or not. If it affects unneutered males, the first suggestion by your vet may be neutering it to help reduce hormone levels and activities.
Besides neutering, additional treatments to altered males or unaltered or altered female cats may include the following:
Mild cases of remedies
- Washing the affected areas using antibacterial soaps or washes such as chlorhexidine and degreasing shampoos as well as antiseborrheic shampoos. Good brands to try including the Douxo Seborrhea Shampoo, GROOMER'S GOOP Creme for Oily Coats, PurePet D-Grease Dog and Cat Shampoo and Davis Degrease Pet Shampoo.
- Aimee Simpson, VMD, medical director of VCA Cat Hospital of Philadelphia advises on the use of “topical treatment with medicated shampoos containing benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, salicylic acid or phytosphingosine," to help unclog hair follicles.
- Antibiotics if there is a secondary bacterial infection
- Clipping of the hairs on areas that are affected
- If swollen, use steroids to reduce the swelling.
Recovery and care
After treatment, expect any secondary infections to heal after up to a week or two weeks. Washing and application of a topical ointment may take a while.
Chronic or recurring cases will require a long-term treatment plan where you should make follow-ups with your veterinarian.
Always ensure you shave off the tail fur and clean this area regularly. Use a degreasing shampoo twice a day.
As a home remedy for feline stud tail, Dr. Carol Osborne of Chagrin Falls Veterinary Center & Pet Clinic with Dr. Carol Osborne recommends using a bran bath to remove grease and dirt from cats.
Her recipe is “Mix ¼ cup oat bran into 1 cup of distilled water, cover loosely, store at room temperature 24-hours then refrigerate.” Use it to spot clean any greasy areas including chin with acne and the stud tail.