Are you noticing a discoloration or oiliness around the base of your cat’s tail? Commonly called “stud tail” because it occurs primarily in intact, male cats, this condition actually has many names:
- Supracaudal gland infection
- Supracaudal gland hyperplasia
- Feline tail gland hyperplasia
The condition results from overactive sebaceous glands located near the base of the tail. Sebaceous glands are specialized glands that produce waxy or oily secretions used by the hair follicles. In normal amounts, the oils keep the hair soft and flexible, but excessive sebum can result in waxy, oily accumulations. Affected cats show an accumulation of sebum that results in a buildup of hair, scales and resultant crusting.
Diagnosis of stud tail
The diagnosis of stud tail is subjectively made based on physical findings and after ruling out other causes such as bite wounds and pockets of fleas.
In severe cases, biopsies may be used to differentiate stud tail from other inflammations—including cancers.
Treatment of stud tail
The good news is that stud tail is primarily a cosmetic problem and unless the area becomes inflamed or infected as a result of the moisture accumulation, it causes affected cats no real problems.
Therefore, treatment is largely based on hygiene and removal of debris. It is important to keep the area clean and free of debris. Using an anti-seborrheal shampoo regularly will prevent the buildup of oily accumulations of sebum. It is also important to prevent the buildup of matted hair.
In cases where infection is a concern based on odor and discharge, antibiotics may be needed.
As always, it is recommended that you take your cat to your veterinarian for a thorough evaluation.
Prevention of stud tail
Since this condition occurs primarily in intact, adult males, it can be prevented by neutering male cats. Neutering or castration of male cats is the best solution to the problem, but it isn’t appropriate in all cases. You should consult with your veterinarian.
Prognosis of stud tail
Since this is a cosmetic condition, the prognosis for your cat’s health is excellent. With appropriate treatment the condition can be controlled.
Questions to ask your veterinarian
- What is the dirty, oily area of hair and skin on my cat’s tail? It doesn’t seem to bother him but it looks disgusting.
- Is there anything I can do to prevent my cat’s stud tail from coming back?
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian -- they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.