Tail Injuries

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

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 kink at the head of the tail.

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.

Cats that spend a lot of time outdoors, or live in a house with more cats or other animals, or gets bitten in the tail a lot, may be the cause of this lump. Your cat may be bitten in his tail during rough play, defending territory or anything. A bite can close over, and trapping material inside the wound so it becomes infected, then it swells to a hard or soft mass. Turning ino an abscess, which can happen on any part of your cat’s body, and it will need veterinary care.

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.

Lumps can also occur if the cat has a reaction to an injection.

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.


Pictures by random-things.co.uk, marvistavet.com, jaknoliverstwist.wordpress.com, cat-health-detective.com, isfm.net.

21 Responses to “Tail Injuries”

  1. angelswhisper2011

    One of Little Binky’s friends is a cat without a tail. He had an accident, and the vet had to amputate the tail. He was fine after all, but it looked a little funny :)

  2. mollieandalfie

    Great information, Hold my hands up I have trodden on Alfies tail a couple of time..He gets right under your feet. But luckily I have never broken it, unlike him, the next door neighbor falling over him, and breaking her toe..lol Mustn’t laugh :) xx00xx
    Mollie and Alfie

    • Dianda

      I have accidentally stepped on Suki’s tail a few times. It always happens when I carry something heavy and can’t see what’s happening near my feet. :( Nothing broken, thank god!

      Wait, your neighbor broke her toe? Hahaha, ironic. :P

  3. baileyboatcat

    You’re so knowledgable Dianda! Thank you for teaching me lots! I’m going to take extra special care of my tail now! I don’t want a stump.

  4. alienredqueen

    J likes to pull the cats’ tails and feet. We have to scold her when we see her do it. My old neighbor once slammed her kitty’s tail in a door on accident and half of it had to be amputated. It basically got skinned in the door I believe. I had no idea so much could go wrong with tail!

  5. sam

    Hi thanks for the information. Ive just been at the vets today thinking my cat had an abcess on the bottom of her tail, maybe caused from a bite, however when the vet lanced it only blood came out so she said it was more than likely a hematoma caused by blunt force or a knock or fall and said it will more than likely absorb back into her body and if not she will need surgery. It was great to find this info so i could understand it a little more, but still freaking out lol, do you have any more info on hematomas

    • Dianda

      I think they are also called ‘bloodblisters’, and that they often happen in ears! I only have experienced those blood blisters in ears actually. It had to be fixed with a surgery.

      A hematoma is swelling created by a broken blood vessel after bleeding has occurred inside tissue. If a blood blister is left untreated, the hematoma may be slowly reabsorbed, but the associated inflammation damages the surrounding (tail ) tissues, who knows what will happen after that. For example, removal of the tail. But it might resolve on it’s own. If not, then a surgery is needed to fix that blood vessel I think.

      I hope I gave you enough information for now! I sadly don’t have that much information or experience about blood blisters. :( Do let me know how it goes!

      • sam

        Thanks alot, i really dont mind if she has to lose her tail as long as she is happy and healthy again. Its been bleeding alot tonight and shes very grumpy, her names diva and its very appropriate, ive to take her back in a week and i’ll know then if she needs an op fingers crossed it reabsorbs and she doesnt need it. Thanks for the info i hate not knowing whats going on..

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