An orange cat looking angry and showing his tail.
An orange cat looking angry and showing his tail. Photography © olga_sweet | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Stud Tail in Cats: What to Know and What to Do About It

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If your cat always seems to have a greasy spot at the base of his tail, it could be a chronic cat skin condition known as stud tail. The medical term for this condition is tail gland hyperplasia or supracaudal gland hyperplasia. The supracaudal gland is a specialized gland located at the base of the tail that secretes sebum, an oily substance that lubricates the coat, keeping it soft and shiny. Sometimes, the glands that produce sebum go into overdrive and secrete far too much of the oil. This excess leads to a greasy skin and coat.

What are the symptoms of stud tail in cats?

A cat's tail sticking out of a bowl.
What are the symptoms of stud tail in cats? Photography ©kickers | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

In a cat with stud tail, “matting of hair, crusts and oily secretions are found at the base of the tail,” says Aimee Simpson, VMD, medical director of VCA Cat Hospital of Philadelphia.

“In severe cases, a bacterial infection of the skin can also occur, which may result in pustules and draining tracts.” It can also cause blackheads on the skin and hair loss. Stud tail is often accompanied by an unpleasant odor.

Is stud tail limited to male cats?

The term “stud tail” might make it sound as if this condition only occurs in male cats, but any cat can be affected. “I think it’s a misconception that this condition only occurs in tomcats (intact males),” Dr. Simpson says. “In fact, neutered males and female cats can also be affected.”

What to do if you think your cat has stud tail

A gray and white cat with her tail up.
See your vet if you think your cat has stud tail. Photography ©GlobalP | Thinkstock.

If you suspect you cat has stud tail, schedule a vet visit. “Definitive diagnosis is with skin biopsy, but many cases are diagnosed based on physical exam,” Dr. Simpson explains. “Other causes of skin disease like ringworm and demodectic mange should also be ruled out with fungal culture and skin scrapings.”

Other conditions that can masquerade as stud tail include a flea infestation or a wound. The base of the tail is a common place for cats to get bitten by another cat (interestingly, this location is a telltale sign that the cat doing the biting was the winner, since the other cat likely turned tail and fled).

How to treat stud tail in cats

If your vet rules out other causes for the greasy skin and diagnoses stud tail, treatment may include special shampoos or medication. “Topical treatment with medicated shampoos containing benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, salicylic acid or phytosphingosine can be used for uncomplicated cases,” Dr. Simpson explains. “Antibiotics are indicated for secondary bacterial infections diagnosed with skin cytology and culture.” If stud tail is diagnosed in an unneutered male cat, neutering might help prevent the condition from reoccurring in the future.

Tell us: Has your cat ever had stud tail?

Thumbnail: Photography © olga_sweet | iStock / Getty Images Plus. 

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6 thoughts on “Stud Tail in Cats: What to Know and What to Do About It”

  1. My cat had this too, it was really bad. I purchased a furminator brush that pulls the bottom coat and used it on his tail. Pulled all the gunky hair out and dead skin that was trapped. A week later no signs of stud tail. Recommend throwing the garbage out immediately. I didn’t and we thought something died in the house. Realized it was the fur I had pulled.

    I believe good maintenance will continue to prevent this from happening again.

  2. Pingback: 10 Cat Skin Problems and How to Handle Them | Catster – Petcobestfood.com

  3. When we adopted our male cat he had a pretty bad case of this. He had a large matted area at the base of his tail, oily, smelly and clogged pores. We had the mat shaved by a vet and bathed him immediately. But noticed he kept getting oily fur in that area so we would bathe and groom regularly to keep it at bay. We switched his dry food over to a high quality high protein food, which helped also. But ever since we’ve been feeding him wet canned food for dental reasons his fur has been in the best condition. I think the hydration really helps. Good luck with the struggle! I hope these tips can help someone. He’s also a better groomer now too, I think he likes being a handsome boy.

  4. Pingback: How to Groom Cats: a Guide to Skin and Coat Care – Life & Cats

  5. My Male is fixed and about 16 years old, we just noticed this about a month ago, as he is very fragile and older I clean him with baby wipes, Doc said that was ok because no underlying illness is present. My guy his name is Charlie is about to be 17 and is doing great, he dont like his daily wipes but it helps keep him clean and pretty happy. Thanks for the information it was very helpful.

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