The tail is an extension of the spine and is controlled by a network of muscles, tendons and nerves; cats are very aware their tails belong to them. A tail can serve multiple purposes – a scarf, warm blanket, sunblock, signal flag and sometimes, a toy. It’s used for balance when hunting or navigating narrow walkways, and is a highly versatile communication device.
It’s usually young animals who will chase their tail if its motion activates their prey drive. The prey drive is the strongest instinct a cat has; and in a kitten, it will override common sense, learned behaviors and memory, every time. They go through a journey of discovery when it comes to their own bodies, just as a human baby will.