The tail can become broken along any of these vertebrae. Most tail breakages occur due to car accidents, being stepped on, pulled or shut in a door.
Your cat's tail is an extension of the spine and 10% of the bones in your cat's body are found in the tail. It is made up of a number of bones (known as 'caudal vertebrae') which can range from 20-23. These segments are held together by a series of ligaments.
What are the signs of a broken tail in cats?
The most common symptom of a broken tail is limpless or paralysis of the tail itself. In severe cases when the bones closer to the body are involved, fecal and urinary incontinence may occur.
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
How is a broken tail diagnosed?
Your veterinarian will perform a complete examination of your cat if he has been involved in an accident such as hit by a car or fall from a height, there is a risk of additional breaks and/or internal injuries that he will need to look for.
A broken tail can be diagnosed by x-ray.
How is a broken tail treated?
Treatment depends on the severity and the location of the injury.
- Mild breaks which occur towards the end of the tail (furthest away from the body) may be left to heal without treatment. If the blood supply is damaged, amputation may be necessary.
- Dislocations may be surgically repaired.
- If the tail is paralysed it is usually recommended that the tail is amputated. 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 may be prescribed to help manage pain while your cat heals. Never administer painkillers for humans to your cat, they are extremely toxic.