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Can Cats Break Their Tail – Dealing With Fractures

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Though cats can’t talk to us, they have many other forms of communication. Meowing, purring, rubbing, and – my personal favorite – the tail-flick. Much sassier than other pets, the tail-flick communicates so many different emotions, but – can cats break their tail?

Cats can break their tail. Fractured tails at the base are the most severe injury. Broken tails take 6 months to heal depending on the severity.

A cat’s tail is made up of a connection of vertebrae (sort of like our spines) that get smaller and smaller as they come away from the base.  The rest is made up of a delightful conglomeration of muscles, nerves, and blood vessels.

The most common ways a cat may break its tail include:

  • Falls – one of those rare ones where they didn’t land on their feet.
  • Having it slammed in a door (ouch).
  • Or getting hit by a car. 

And even though the tail is one of, frankly, the cutest parts of a cat, it’s not a death sentence if it breaks.

But – what happens if your cat does break its tail? Can it heal on its own? Does it need to be amputated? Can it even survive without one?

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What Happens If A Cat Breaks His Tail

Surprisingly, it may not be quite as apparent as you think if your cat breaks his tail. Unlike, say, a human broken bone – where the limb is in clear distress – a cat’s broken tail may be more subtle.

Especially since, of course, they can’t communicate their pain.

So keep an eye out for simple signs that a tail is broken, fractured, or otherwise not in its usual state of effervescenceAn injured tail drags instead of remaining mostly upright; your cat may exhibit involuntary leaking of urine, or you may notice incoordination of the rear legs.

And of course, pay attention to your kitty’s behavior; is he acting more subdued? Crankier? Less energetic?

Cat owners as a whole have to be their feline’s best advocate, so pay attention to the subtle signs your furball sends! And if something seems very off, it could be time to see the vet.

How Long Does It Take for a Cat’s Broken Tail to Heal

Here’s the scoop: the closer the injury is to the tail’s base, the worse the damage will be. Injuries near the base are more likely to involve nerve damage, which is more severe for apparent reasons.

Just like in a human’s body, the bones need to mend – and so do the damaged nerves. 

Generally, however, a broken tail will take around six months to heal back to full flick-ability completely. 

Can A Cat’s Broken Tail Heal on Its Own?

If you’re not sure if your furry feline’s tail is broken or not, it’s still essential to take her to see a vet. Especially in the case of an accident, her tail might not be the only injured part of her body.

If it is broken, a vet can, at the very least, prescribe pain medication to help the healing process feel a little easier for your ailing angel. In general, a kitty needs a little rest (and a LOT of TLC) to get their tail back to full-on swooshing mode.

Is It Normal For A Cat To Attack Its Tail

We know dogs do the whole tail-chasing thing all the time, but it’s much less frequent (and usually much more worrisome) when cats do it.

If it’s clearly playful, don’t worry too much about it; as we all know, cats have many strange (yet adorable!) quirks – and this might be one of them. (Or maybe a sign that you need to get her some new toys.) (Just kidding!)

So how do you know when it’s concerning? 

Cats may chase their tails if it’s causing them discomfort, for example, from an infection or allergies.

This behavior could also be a symptom of hyperesthesia syndrome, a condition caused by overactive nerve endings. Signs of hyperesthesia include frenzied scratching, biting of the tail base area, and rolling of the dorsal lumbar skin.

So, if the tail-chasing starts to seem like less of “just another quirk,” – see what her vet has to say about the matter.

How Do You Bandage A Cat’s Tail

For minor cat tail injuries, a homemade bandage can work just fine in getting your fur baby back to normal.

And! They’re very easy to administer!

You’ll need a small strip of foam pipe insulation (which can be found at any local hardware store), medical tape, and scissors. 

  • First, cut a slit through the foam pipe piece; gently wrap the piece around the injured section of the tail in question. Not too tight!
  • Then, to secure the foam pipe, wrap the tape around the base of the pipe. 
  • Note: the top of the foam pipe should stick out above the tip of the tail; this helps prevent further injury.

Keep a close eye on the bandaging, and check it at least on a daily basis. If you start to notice abnormal discharge, swelling, redness, or moisture, change the bandage immediately.

And, of course, if things take a turn – see a vet!

Does A Broken Tail Hurt A Cat?

As a very sensitive part of their body, a broken tail does, in fact, hurt a cat very much.

This might even be how you notice that his tail is injured in the first place: if he’s acting more lethargic or on edge than usual.

If you’ve already taken your feeble furball to the vet and have otherwise done all you can do (bandages, pain relievers, and so on), it now may just be a matter of time. Your kitty needs a lot of rest, medication, comfort, and love in order to be able to heal fully and properly.

Put together a soft and comfortable space for him to sleep and snuggle; a smaller room is often preferred, like the laundry room, bathroom, or bedroom. This way, you can regularly monitor him – plus, it will provide a quieter spot away from kids or other pets of the house.

And of course, make sure your kitty stays indoors throughout the entirety of the healing process.

How Much Does Cat Tail Amputation Cost

Of course, the cost of any pet procedure will vary based on a variety of factors. These include your veterinarian’s office, the length of stay for your cat, your location, and your pet insurance policy (if you have one).

However, in general, a cat tail amputation will run, out of pocket, around $500 to $1,000.

Do some research, though; some cat owners have gotten the procedure done for just a few hundred dollars. 

How Can I Help My Cat With An Amputated Tail

Think about the last surgery you had – and, more importantly, what you craved during the recovery process. A lot of rest, a lot of doting, and a lot of comfort, right?

Sure, your cat may not be jonesing for saltines and How I Met Your Mother marathons, but a little extra loving can go a long way.

The average amputated tail recovery time is around two to four weeks, although this can also depend on your cat’s age, weight, and other health conditions. In that time, be loving and understanding of your fur baby’s needs. Healing could be slower than you anticipated (especially if you’re spending lots of time with her, you won’t notice progress as astutely).

Don’t try to speed things up on your own, but do celebrate the small victorious milestones.

And of course, be sure to regularly remind your ailing feline that she’s a beautiful, perfect cat even without a tail. Yes, she is, yes she is, yes she is!

Can A Cat Survive Without A Tail

Sure, they’re an adorable fixture to your feline’s rump, but a tail is not necessary for a cat to live a long, healthy, happy life.

It’s true; cats use their tails for many practical purposes: balance, communication, looking cute. But after an injury or amputation, they do learn to compensate for its loss.

As a matter of fact, the Manx cat breed (the only breed born naturally without a tail) survive just fine without one. However, their owners might miss it!