By Deborah Hansen
Cats love their tails! Tails convey a cat’s personality and are used for communication and balance. Most cats are very particular when it comes to human intervention with their tails. As groomers, we want to get those tails fluffy and clean for the humans who love them.
How often have you done a great bath with a good quality degreaser, turned on the dryer and started to notice separation in the tail coat? While it can be irritating, supracaudal gland hyperplasia, which is commonly known as Stud Tail, gets the best of us!
What Is Stud Tail?
The supracaudal gland is located at the base of the tail, and this gland’s job is to secrete sebum, an oily substance that is intended to keep the coat shiny. When this oil becomes thick, it clogs the skin pores and hair follicles. Sebaceous cysts then develop. These cysts are basically blackheads on the tail of the feline. Symptoms will appear as greasy, matted hair, bald patches at the base of the tail and a waxy substance on the skin of the tail. Stud tail in cats appears in altered and unaltered males and females. Simply put, any cat can get stud tail.
What Is The Best Way To Address Stud Tail In The Grooming Environment?
You first want to start by using a high–quality degreasing shampoo and letting it sit on the tail for about ten minutes, then rinse. Bathe the feline a second time with the high–quality degreasing product. This process goes a long way in being able to finish the groom without the coat having a waxy feeling and separation on the coat.
When you comb this type of tail, keep in mind that the tail is already irritated. Work gently and remember that the chance of brush burn greatly increases due to the preexisting inflammation of the tail. Recognize that most cats are not complacent about having their tails touched, much less groomed. While working on any cat’s tail, be sure to monitor the cat for signs of aggression. Grooming the most passive cat can quickly escalate when an irritated tail is touched.
If the cat has received a lion cut, you will be fully aware of the problem before the bath, allowing you the ability to plan the extra time in the bath to address the issue. For the full coat grooms, sometimes the fact a cat has stud tail slips by until the drying process begins. After the tail is shampooed and dried, cornstarch can be applied to absorb any remaining oily substance.
If any signs of infection or odor accompany the other symptoms of stud tail, it is important for the client to take the cat to a veterinarian since sometimes bacterial infections are present in cases of stud tail.
How Does Stud Tail In Felines Help To Increase Your Bottom Line?
It is important to get all the grease off the tail and get the pores back to functioning properly. In my business, that means “Kitty” will need another bath in 2–4 weeks and possibly another bath 2–4 weeks after that with a good quality, strong degreasing product.
After the oil overproduction is under control, clients can be placed on a 4–6 week schedule and maintain a beautiful full coat. If the owner will allow you to shave the tail, the skin irritation will clear up faster. If the tail is shaved, I ask the owner to apply a little cornstarch to the tail about twice a week. Cornstarch absorbs the oil which goes a long way in helping to resolve the problem.
Stud tail is usually a cosmetic issue that can be controlled with regular maintenance grooming. If the cat is not suffering from a bacterial component, once the groomer is able to get the grease under control, the problem should self–resolve.
Deborah Hansen, CFMG, CFCG is the owner of a very successful feline exclusive, house call grooming business, Kitty’s Purrfect Spa. She is also the founder of “Deborah’s Programs”, a complete rebooking system to get all cats onto a regular grooming schedule, and owner and creator of Kitty’s Kopy Kats, a stationary store for anyone who grooms cats. Deborah is the creative talent behind Feline Artistic Creations and an author in multiple publications with worldwide distribution. She is also a Feline Specialist and Correspondent for the National Association of Professional Creative Groomers. She can be found at deborahhansen.com.