Why do cats go crazy when you scratch them at the base of their tail?

Why do cats go crazy when you scratch them at the base of their tail? Some cats also go crazy when you pat them firmly at the base of their tail.

Spot at base of tail

Spot at base of tail which when scratched provokes a reaction in some domestic cats. Photo: Public domain.

It depends upon the cat. This is the main point to make. Some cats don’t respond to it or actively dislike it while others respond in a way which indicates that they are being emotionally stimulated, that they like it and that the stimulation is more than simply liking it.

You sometimes get a reaction from a cat which is different to the reaction that they might produce to standard petting or scratching. So something is happening which is not typical and the question is what is it?

Female Cat Behavior?

Some observant cat owners think that this is a female cat behavior. They believe that females normally respond to this type of petting whereas you will see it less often in males. This is because some argue that it is an erogenous zone for a female cat. When you pat a female cat at the base of the tail she raises her bottom which indicates that this is a behaviour associated with mating. It may stimulate an instinctive response in a cat which is similar to that when she is being mated.

Kitten Response?

Another possibility, which is not linked to cat gender is that scratching your cat in that particular position produces a sensation in the cat which is similar to that which she feels when as a kitten her mother licked her bottom in order to stimulate defecation. When this happens the kitten raises her bottom. The same applies to male kittens. This behavior is carried forward into adulthood.

Pat or Scratch

As mentioned, you can either pat your cat at the base of their tail or scratch it. You will get a similar response depending upon the individual. It’s also possible that at this spot there is a conglomeration of nerves which makes it more sensitive than usual to petting. It is the spine of the cat.

Inaccessible Spot

Another theory is that this spot is inaccessible to the domestic cat. Therefore when you scratch it, it is particularly pleasing. I’m not sure that I subscribe to this theory because most cats can groom the area. However, domestic cats like to be scratched and groomed in areas which are inaccessible to them.

Personal Experience

It also seems to occur in dogs but I have no experience of this. My experience with respect to cats is that it happened with a female cat but not with a male cat which I have cared for. My female cat appeared to love it but the response was a bit different to the normal response. It seemed to stimulate something in her. With my female cat this particular spot was flat which made it easy to pat or scratch.


My conclusion is that some cats will respond to this form of petting and it is probably usually females because there are instinctively responding to a stimulus which feels like mating with a male cat. However for a female cat mating is not a pleasant experience because when the male pulls his willy out it bloody well hurts as it is covered in backward facing barbs….which confuses things!

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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