Thanks Mythreemoggies for the idea!
Cats have tails, they are long, some are bushy, some cats don’t have tails at all. Sometimes we step on them — on accident! Or they end up between the door. What if your cat has an injury on the tail?
The tail consists out of small vertebrae and is connected to the cat’s spine via the sacrum. The spinal cord stops short of the tail, but the nerve endings from the spine extend further and can be damaged by injuries to the region close to the body, even when there is no fracture. Fractures, compression of the nerves (which is caused by dislocation, slippage of the vertebral discs, or tissue swelling), near the tail head (the part closest to the body) all can cause very serious problem, and while some cats recover, some don’t. It all depends on the cat and the injury. So sometimes an amputation of the tail is the best option for recovery. If the injury is severe enough, however, the cat may have to be euthanized.
- The nerve damage can cause inability to pass feces or urine, incontinence, and lameness.
- Owners must help the cat by manually expressing the bladder.
Some injuries can mimic the symptoms of a fracture in the tail. It could be an abscess — which is still very serious. Or your cat might have a small fracture, but in both cases the cat might show lameness in the hindquarters and might be in great pain. Abscesses are very common, and can become very serious if left untreated. Fractures and tissue damage that occurs further down the tail tend to be much less severe. But that doesn’t mean you should not go to your vet. Always get it checked out!
Your cat may have other injuries from the same incident. Cats whose tails are caught in doors may also strain their back legs trying to get free. Cats whose tails are pulled off instead of cut may have nerve damage that impairs their bowel functions.
Signs of Tail Injury
- Noticeable kink at the site of the break.
- Your cat is unable to bent it.
- Lameness in hind legs.
- Unable to pass feces or urine.
- The base of the tail will most likely be sore and painful as well.
- Paralysis of the tail.
- A tail that drags or never held high.
- Involuntary dribbling of urine.
(If you see your cat leaking urine, check his tail to see if it is broken. Using your thumb and two fingers, gently run your fingers up and down the tail without applying much pressure. If you feel a bump, or a break in the bones, your kitty needs to go to the vet and have an x-ray.)
- A dilated, flaccid anal sphincter with or without diarrhea or fecal incontinence.
- Incoordination of the rear legs.
- The end of your cat’s tail has clearly been disconnected from the rest of it and you can see blood and bone.
- Abnormal tail position.
Depending on where the tail is broken, it can mend and grow back together on is own. While surgery can be used to repair the tail that is broken, most vets might recommend that the tail be given a chance to heal before trying to do surgery on it. While when a cat tail is paralyzed and there is absolutely no feeling in it anymore — or when he isn’t able to lift his tail up anymore, amputation might be the best option. This is because the tail can get in the way of normal movements, going to the litterbox. Nerve damage generally takes a long time to heal. However, many cats recover in a week or so when the nerves are not damaged.
A hard lump in a cat’s tail may be caused by a break in one of the many tail bones, an abscess, tumor or cyst. All of this needs to be checked out by the vet as soon as possible.
Injuries can also cause swelling of blood under the skin, or hematomas, where the injury occurred. Since the tail has no fat, especially near the tip, these bruises may feel raised and hard. Lumps caused by injury will most of the time be painful when touched.
The hard lump can also be a tumor — I don’t mean to scare you! the texture of a tumor or cyst can depend on the cause of it. Tumors can appear on any place of the body. Since the tail has no fat — or barely any fat, a tumor can be growing on the tail bones, skin or other soft tissue. Your vet might perform tests or diagnose if he thinks the lump may be a tumor.
If the tail is severed, do not attempt to remove the rest of the tail!
Please see your veterinarian if you suspect a cat has suffered any type of injury.