Tail trauma occurs more often with outdoor cats but can happen to any feline. It can range from mild to severe but can be dealt with provided veterinary assessment is sought. Let's look at what to do if your cat shows signs of an injured tail.
By design, a cat's tail is used to help with balance. However, tails are also helpful communication tools that can be used to help determine mood.
If your cat returns home with an injured tail, or you notice a change in urinary/faecal movements, you could be looking at tail trauma in your pet. In this case, it's important to get it assessed quickly to avoid further complications and so that your cat is once again able to communicate normally.
Signs of tail trauma
Clinical signs of tail trauma vary from a kink, dislocation, limpness or paralysis, faecal/urinary incontinence, luxated-subluxated tail or a clean break in the tail. There may also be signs of lacerations and cuts, although this is not always the case.
Your biggest concern should be the nerve sensation in the tail in and around the area of the rectum – you may want to gentle press the area to identify any potential pain for your cat.
While cats can live with a paralysed tail, it can become soiled with urine and faeces as they lose the ability to control the muscles to allow the normal excretion of waste. This can then become more serious, causing infection in the bladder or kidneys.
Bed rest, surgery, or amputation?
Surgical repair may be necessary for some injuries, including those that have been badly dislocated or fractured. However, this is not always needed as the tail can heal on its own.
If a vet determines that the injury, while unpleasant, will heal on its own, bed rest may be prescribed. This can be tricky with some cats so talk to your vet about how best to navigate the healing process.
Tails that have experienced severe nerve damage usually result in amputation. However, your cat will be able to adjust to this change quite well and lead a normal, healthy life.
For injuries that don't require any form of surgery, it can take up to about 30 days for feeling to return to the tail. Therefore, it is important to monitor your cat's bowel and urinary movements. For example, the bladder should be emptied about three or more times per day. If your cat is having trouble doing this, a vet may need to show you how to help them achieve this.
Medication is also available to help assist with bowel movements, as are natural remedies such as olive oil, pumpkin puree, fibre, oats and dairy. Again, talk to your vet to discuss the options best suited to you and your cat.
The good news with tail injuries is that full recovery can often be achieved. While time and patience will be required, perhaps in addition to various treatments and/or medications, the best approach as advised by your vet can help to ensure the best outcome.
Has your cat ever injured its tail?