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Cats with a Broken Tail
Used to communicate his mood accurately based on the placement of the tail, or helping him to keep his balance when he runs and leaps after prey, a cat’s tail is a wondrous mechanism. In the larger-breed cats such as the Maine Coon, the tail is also used for warmth. On a cold day, the cat will wrap his extra-long tail around his body before he naps. When startled or scared, the hairs on a cat’s tail will stand on end, a warning to anyone in the vicinity to back off.
Where the tail connects to the body is called the tail head. Although visually it may look like the tail head is connected to the spinal cord, it does not. So injuries to the tail do not involve the spinal cord. Instead, if the tail is broken, injury can occur to the bladder, the large intestine and/or the anus.
Signs your cat may have broken his tail include:
If you see your cat leaking small amounts of 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. Although tails are rarely placed in a cast or a splint, in a severe break, the tail can be re-broken, or if nerve damage is too advanced, the vet may decide to amputate the tail.
How does a cat’s tail break?
But is the break a sacrocaudal fracture or a bone spur or curved vertebral body? Your vet will be able to determine the answer. Kittens can be born with tail faults. These faults do not become noticeable (cosmetically) until the kitten reaches the age of six months. If the kitten has a knot on the end of his tail, that knot could be a calcium deposit. This deposit is not technically considered a break or a kink. In the original Siamese cat, crossed eyes and tail kinks were commonplace. Only after years of selective breeding did these tail faults become less severe.
According to Susan Little, DVM, DABVP President of the Winn Feline Foundation, various tail abnormalities are well documented as heritable in cats. “Usually tail kinks are considered only a cosmetic issue.” The telling signs indicating a break would be other symptoms appearing along with the kink.
If you notice any sudden appearance of lumps or bumps in your cat’s tail, your best course of action is to consult your veterinarian. You could be looking at the early stages of an abscess or sometimes the cat does have a broken tail. Tail breaks can heal, although the healing process is slow depending on the amount of nerve damage that has occurred.