A cat’s tail is an extension of the spine and accounts for 10% of all bones. It contains between 20-23 bones (caudal vertebrae). These segments are held together by a series of ligaments. The tail can become broken along any of these vertebrae. Car accidents, being pulled or stepped on, and shut in the door are the most common causes of broken tails.
The most common symptom of a broken tail is limpness or paralysis of the tail itself. Fecal and urinary incontinence can occur during breaks close to the body.
Other common symptoms of a broken tail include:
- An obvious bend or kink in the tail
- Inability to move or hold up the tail
- Problems moving back legs
Your veterinarian will perform a complete examination of your cat. If the cat has been involved in an accident there is a risk of additional breaks and/or internal injuries.
Xray can diagnose a broken tail as well as evaluate for other injuries which are common in trauma.
Treatment depends on the severity and the location of the injury.
- Mild breaks which occur near the end of the tail (furthest away from the body) can be left to heal without treatment.
- Surgical repair of dislocations.
- Tail amputation (caudectomy) if the tail is paralysed. Cats can exist perfectly well without their tail.
- In cases where the cat is suffering from urinary incontinence, the owner may be required to manually express urine from the bladder until the cat is able to do so himself. This may take several weeks.
- Painkillers to manage pain while your cat heals. Never administer painkillers for humans to your cat, they are extremely toxic.