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Cat Tail Injuries

Updated on April 25, 2016
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Cats and Their Tails

Most cats have tails, but what are they for? Many people believe tails help animals with balance and spatial awareness. However, there are cat breeds such as the Manx cat that are born without tails that can function perfectly well, so does the tail have another purpose? Cat also use their tails to communicate, owners who know their cats well can often tell if their cats are content or annoyed by the way they move their tails. The tail is used to display emotions, for example a cat watching a bird through a window may sit with its tail hanging down and just the end swishing slowly back and fore.

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Types of Tail Injuries

Tail injuries can occur in a variety of ways, often accidental. A common indoor accident is when a tail gets shut in a door or stepped on. A door slamming on a tail is very painful and could result in a broken bone. Not only is there the original injury, but further damage as the cat tries to pull its tail free. Injuries occurring outdoors include catfights, car accidents, tails caught in fences and attacks from other animals.

Owners who know their cats well can usually tell if their cat has a tail injury, cats often flee to a hiding place when injured and it can take a lot of coaxing to get the cat to come out. It is likely to be very painful both at the injury site and at the base of the tail from any pulling during the injury.

Sometimes tail paralysis can be present, the tail contains vertebrae running from the spine and damage can cause sensation to be lost. Nerve damage can interfere with the ability to pass urine and feces.


How can I tell if my Cat has an Injury?

Some obvious signs of an injury are a

  • a bend at the site of the injury
  • inability to bend or move the tail
  • a wound or visible bone
  • abnormal tail position
  • coordination of back legs unusual
  • difficulty toileting
  • dragging tail
  • incontinence

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Key Points

  • Your cat may not show they are in pain
  • If you suspect an injury always visit the vet
  • Keep cats indoors while healing to prevent further injury

What to do if you Suspect a Tail Injury

If you think your cat has a tail injury it is important to get it checked by a vet Immediately. If the accident is witnessed and you can describe what happened, a vet will know what tests to run and be able to check for specific injuries.

The first step is to get the cat into a carrier as calmly as possible, a cat may not show outward signs of pain but may still be suffering. Cats natural instinct is to mask pain. In the wild an injured cat is vulnerable to attacks from others so will not draw attention to an injury. Take extra care when handling them into the crate and be aware that they may be scared and that the trip to the vets may be traumatic.

On arrival to the vets your cat may be given a pain relief shot to both help with the pain and relax the cat for examination. The vet may choose to X-ray the tail.

If the tail is moving but a wound is present the fur will be shaved and the wound glued or stitched. If the injury is towards the end of the tail the vet may choose to amputate the section of the tail after the injury, this is common in the case of paralysis. This is option is often chosen because the tail will drag and get in the way when defecating and urinating. If the tail has been separated surgery is often needed.


Wound on Tail

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Cat wearing an E-collar

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How to Care for a Cat with a Tail Injury.

If your cat goes outside it may be necessary to keep them indoors while they are healing. Recovery should be in a calm relaxed atmosphere. Often an E-collar will be needed so that the cat does not lick or bite a wound or bandage. An E- collar may make feeding challenging so be sure the cat can access food and water. If you use a litter box with a lid it may be necessary to remove the lid during recovery for easy access.

If your cat lives with other cats it may be necessary to keep them separate in the short term. The E-collar may scare the other cats and they may become scared or aggressive. Also they may try to bite or lick the wound. Ensure cats kept in a confined space have access to scratch posts and toys to prevent boredom.

Follow the vets instructions on how to care for your cat at home and remember to use careful handling as the cat may have other injuries from the accident such as pain at the base of the tail or hind legs from straining to get away from the accident.

Wound on Tail Healing

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© 2014 Ruthbro

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  • travmaj profile image

    travmaj 2 years ago from australia

    I'm thinking how difficult it may be for a cat to communicate to owners, initially. Poor cat, a most painful and distressing sort of injury. Good advice here.

  • profile image

    Lynne fry 2 years ago

    very interesting and the photos

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