It isn’t too hard to tell when your feline’s tail takes an unexpected and unfortunate twist.
A cat’s emotions can often be gauged through the movement and positioning of their tail.
If it is waving and wagging carefully and with contentment then it is generally a message to declare that they’re happy with someone or something.
It could be the case that your feisty four-legged friend’s tail is swishing and swooshing quite animatedly, insinuating that they’re angry or irritated with a certain situation.
Your cat’s tail could be wrapped around them, like a comforting arm, as they relax peacefully, or it could flick impatiently as your pet waits for food or affection.
However, if their rear propeller is drooped, inactive and looking a little bit down in the dumps, then it’s usually a red flag that there’s an underlying, rather serious issue.
Throughout this blog we’ll explore the common causes of a broken tail, what signs to look out for and where to go/what to do if your kitty’s tail requires a little TLC.
Can cats actually break their tails?
The vertebrae that make up an animal’s tail can fracture or dislocate just like any other bone in the body.
The nerves (that branch off from the spine, blood vessels and muscles) are also at risk of damage, which can add to the severity of the injury.
Cats’ tails are vulnerable to all kinds of bumps, bangs, pulls, knocks and scrapes that occur in their action-packed lifestyles.
Our fur babies can often suffer excruciating pain and discomfort in these situations, so it is best to seek the guidance and advice of a vet to determine the best course of action.
Common causes of a broken tail
Tail breaks or dislocations are often linked with some form of trauma, whether that be getting struck by a vehicle, falling from a great height and landing awkwardly or having it trapped in a door.
When your cat is out on an exploration of the big wide world, they’re exposed to all sorts of hazards, some that are direct threats, others of which are more their own doing.
Any kind of impact, however forceful, can break their delicate bones. As pet parents, there’s not a great deal we can do to protect them when they’re adventuring in the open, so we just have to respond if the worst does happen.
The signs your cat has a broken tail
Limp tail: When a cat is caught with its tail between its (hind) legs – in a literal sense – it’s usually an indication that something is wrong. A drooping tail is often one of the clearest signs of injury, so pay close attention if this is ever the case.
Back legs: Depending on where the injury occurs, your cat could lose full control of their back legs. An injury at the tail base, where some of the nerves that control the hind legs are located, could well hinder their mobility.
Bladder/Bowel: A kitty-cat mishap which involves the tail base can also affect their ability to control bowel and/or bladder movements. Again, nerve damage, situated higher up in the spinal cord, is the likely cause of incontinence and would require immediate veterinary assistance.
Behavior: If your usually friendly and laid back feline suddenly becomes aggressive, unsociable, evasive and is vocalizing their upset quite clearly, then it’s highly likely that they’ve suffered some extensive trauma.
Puffy/bleeding tail: While most fractures are undetectable from the outside, there are occasions when it’s possible to identify a problem. While the internal trauma is invisible to the naked eye, abrasions/bleeding/inflamation on the outside can give pet parents a warning that something more serious is afoot.
Could a broken tail be serious?
Most fractures, if located at the tip of the tail, will normally heal naturally over time.
A clean break, that doesn’t impact any nerves or blood vessels, shouldn’t require medical intervention, but your kitty might appreciate a visit to the vet, who could prescribe some much-needed pain relief.
The worst case scenario, however, could have serious consequences for your cat. If the break is irreparable, or the injury has compromised your pet’s nervous system or blood vessels, then amputation or surgery would be necessary.
Avulsion injuries, caused by a hefty tug to the tail, can stretch or tear nerves, while breaks at the base could sever them. This could lead to further problems and complications – in relation to mobility and internal organs – that would require immediate attention.
The most important thing to do, as a caring and concerned companion, is to act fast when you suspect that your furry friend has sustained a tail injury, and get them to a vet.
The quicker they’re seen, the faster the prognosis, meaning your feline can get the attention and treatment they desperately need, before getting back on the road to recovery.
With proper care, your housemate will be back on the mend in no time!
Time can be of the essence when dealing with a broken tail
Communication and self-expression are just two of the functions that a cat’s tail possesses.
Their messages/signals are quite clear – making it almost impossible for them to get lost in translation when they’re talking through their tail.
Kitties lack subtlety, they’re straight to the point, so pet parents tend to know where they stand with their tail-wagging tenants.
Whether they are happy, sad, excited, scared, peaceful, angry, intimidated or impatient, their human companions tend to know the score.
That’s why it is so important to recognise any changes in their behavior/demeanor and understand when something serious could be affecting them.
Time is of the essence, especially when your pet could be experiencing excruciating pain or debilitating discomfort, so take your cat to your veterinarian as soon as you’ve assessed the situation.
Leaving it too long will only prolong their agony and could lead to further, more serious, problems/complications somewhere down the line.