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How Serious is a Broken Cat Tail?


fluffy cat tailIf you were to look at a cat, what is the first thing that stands out to you? Is it the whiskers? Or maybe the claws? Or how about those ears? For me it’s usually the tail, likely held high and swishing only when the cat decides. But with something that’s so vital to the cat, how bad is it when the tail is actually broken? Well, let’s take a look.


A cat’s tail is pretty cool as it does a number of things. The first and most important function of the tail is consistently balance. A cat can use it to properly balance upon otherwise impossibly narrow ledges or figure out how to make a distance leap. Beyond just that, the tail plays a huge role in communication as it can signal all manner of things, such as excitement, fear, annoyance, or fatigue. Without the tail, your cat can lose both its finely-tuned balancing abilities and complexity of communication, but neither of those or necessarily vital to a cat’s life. Other things however…


While some believe that the spinal cord extends all the way down into the tail, Mother Nature thankfully saw how unbelievably dangerous that would be and keeps it in the cat’s back. That doesn’t mean that the tail is utterly worthless though as it contains quite a few important nerves and nerve endings, making it a very sensitive spot. Pulling hard enough or causing a break can affect more than just the tail itself as those nerves connect to the hind quarters, including the lower intestines, bladder, and sphincter. Damage one part of the tail and other parts of your cat’s body could suffer.


Some of the things that could happen from something as simple as a fractured tail could be a general loss of feeling in the hind regions or the inability to control either bladder or fecal functions, leading to a sad cat and an unhappy owner. Usually if it becomes apparent that something is amiss in the litter box, you’ll be more on alert to look for signs of tail damage such as a kink, your cat showing clear signs that they feel pain when their tail is touched, or simply the tail being dragged around.


The fix is usually just as simple as any other broken bone, assuming no severe nerve damage has occurred. If it becomes apparent that the nerves did suffer pretty bad damage, there’s a chance you’ll have to adjust your cat’s life and their daily routine, including having to help them manually empty their bladder or perform enemas on occasion. Also, if their tail still seems to drag about, it might be best to have it amputated completely to avoid any further complications and more nerve damage.


Most cats have pretty resilient tails and a break or injury at the tip is nowhere near as devastating as a break near the base, but do be careful to watch your cat’s tail when exiting rooms or slamming cabinets shut. Take care of your cat’s tail and be mindful of any obvious signs that there’s trouble. Your cat- and his tail- will thank you.



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