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What is Tail Trauma?

Injuries to the tail, no matter how serious, warrant veterinary attention as there is no way for the owner to know the full extent of tail damage. Before rushing your cat off the vet, however, call ahead as the vet may be able to advise you over the phone if the injury is minor.

Tail trauma in cats is usually the result of accidental injury.  A cat’s tail extends from the spine. The tail is an important part of a cat’s body as it provides them with a sense of direction and balance as well as control over their bowels. There are no breed, sex, or age predispositions for developing tail trauma, although outdoor cats have a higher risk for experiencing tail trauma than indoor cats.

Tail Trauma Average Cost

From 517 quotes ranging from $100 - $800

Average Cost

$350

Symptoms of Tail Trauma in Cats

Tail trauma can range in severity. It may be as minor as a small scrape or as severe as complete paralysis. Other symptoms may also be present depending on the cause of the trauma. In any case, seek immediate veterinary attention as soon as you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Limp tail
  • Difficulty urinating and/or defecating
  • Lack of or no movement in the tail
  • Signs of pain
  • Hair loss
  • Skin damage
  • Bleeding

Types

Many types of tail trauma may occur in cats, including, but not limited to:

  • Abrasions
  • Fractures
  • Bone breakage
  • Dislocation
  • Nerve damage
  • Complete paralysis
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Causes of Tail Trauma in Cats

The primary cause of tail trauma in cats is accidental injury. These injuries may range in severity, from the tail simply being shut in a door to being hit by a car.

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Diagnosis of Tail Trauma in Cats

Call your vet as soon as you can to let them know what happened; they will be able to advise you on whether or not an appointment is necessary to evaluate the damage. During the appointment, your vet will be able to make a tentative diagnosis based on a thorough physical examination and presentation of symptoms. Be sure to inform your vet of the extent and duration of your cat’s symptoms, as well as any recent accidents that may be the cause of the tail trauma.

The appearance of the tail is usually sufficient for making the definitive diagnosis. However, in more severe cases of tail trauma, blood count, urinalysis, x-rays, and other standard diagnostic testing may be utilized, particularly if the tail appears to be paralyzed.

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Treatment of Tail Trauma in Cats

Treatment may vary depending on the severity of the trauma.  Your vet will be able to advise you on a treatment plan based on your cat’s specific needs. 

In minor cases of abrasions, treatment may not be necessary. For more severe abrasions, a tail wrap, coupled with the use of antibiotic ointments, may assist in the healing process. In some extremely severe cases, tail shortening may be required.

If there is a fracture in the tail, treatment will vary depending on the severity of the fracture. Minor fractures may not require any treatment at all. If the fracture is more severe and the bones in the tail have been crushed, amputation may be required. If the tail is broken, it may be able to heal by itself depending on the location and extent of the break. Surgery may be required, although vets tend to prefer to allow the tail to heal on its own before taking this route.

Nerve damage may require more invasive treatment. Depending on the severity and extent of the nerve damage, surgery may be required to restore normal bowel and/or urinary function. If the tail has been completely paralyzed, amputation is generally required. In some cases, full nerve function may return after a month or longer.

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Recovery of Tail Trauma in Cats

Recovery and prognosis may vary depending on the cause and severity of tail trauma. Always follow your vet’s post-treatment and/or post-operative instructions carefully. Never apply any antibiotic ointments made for human use unless specifically instructed to do so by your vet.

You may want to limit your cat’s outdoor activity during the recovery period. You may also have to assist your cat in urinating and defecting normally if the tail has undergone nerve damage, is limp, or otherwise unable to move.

If your cat has undergone surgery or amputation, do not allow them to irritate the surgery site. Ensure they have a warm, safe place to rest for the duration of the recovery period. Your vet will be able to advise you on helping your cat adjust following amputation.

Your vet may or may not schedule follow-up appointments as needed to monitor healing. If you have any questions, or if the tail does not seem to be healing with treatment, contact your vet immediately.

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Tail Trauma Average Cost

From 517 quotes ranging from $100 - $800

Average Cost

$350

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Tail Trauma Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Orange tabby

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5 weeks

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Missing Tail

I found this kitten. Tail is missing, I'm wondering what I can do to help. Mouth is very smelly, black spot on the inside of cheek.

Aug. 7, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. That is a very ugly wound, and it will probably not heal without medical attention. It would be best to have the kitten seen by a veterinarian right away, as they can look at the kitten, assess the wound and see what might have happened, and get treatment for the kitten. I hope that she is okay.

Aug. 8, 2020

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Siamese/domestic shorthair

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Five Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Tail Only Going About Halfway Up

My female cat was playing rough with her brother and now her tail is only going about halfway up. She has improved since it happened about a week ago. She's eating and drinking like normal, playing and jumping the same, and going to the bathroom the same. She is no pain from what I can tell. I've felt up and down her tail, back, and hips multiple times with no negative reaction. She can move the whole tail all the way down to the tip. I don't know if she twisted it weird while playing and now it's just sore or if she got body slammed into her tail or if she somehow sprained it. Any help?

Aug. 7, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. She may have damaged the nerves to her tail. Unfortunately, without being able to examine her, I can't say what might be going on for sure. Since it seems to be continuing over a week, it would probably be a good idea to have her seen by a veterinarian,as they can examine her and see if there are any treatments that might help. I hope that she is okay.

Aug. 8, 2020

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Tabby cat

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1.5 year

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Bruised Skin & Hair Loss

My cats door was closed in the door. The door was completely shut. A strip of hair is gone and the skin is very bruised. He can still move his tail just seems to be very careful with the movement.

July 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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Hello Thank you for your question and picture. As long is the area is not open and it appears mildly bruised, I recommend keeping an eye on it. If there was an open wound I would recommend having him seen because it could get infected but you can continue to monitor the area. Good luck.

July 29, 2020

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Gray tabby?

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Unk at least 8

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Limp Tail, Urinating In Sleep

Hello, I've had my stray cat for 8 years and hes always had a limp tail and a tiny dribble when he sleep pees. Now he is sleep peeing buckets! I'm worried. He doesn't seem to be in any pain. I dont know what kind of trauma he has had.

July 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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Hello, So sorry to hear about your cat. If your cat is peeing a lot, it would be best for your vet to run some bloodwork. We worry about kidney disease or diabetes when cats are peeing a lot. Your vet would be able to run these tests and see exactly what is causing these issues. Good Luck.

July 29, 2020

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Unknown

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Limp Tail

my cat has a pretty active tail. She was fine all day yesterday and then all of a sudden her tail just went limp. Other than the limp tail she seems perfectly fine though. Still playing and jumping around and being her normal self. I don't believe there was any Injury that I saw. So I dont know what happened. She seems to be able to use the base of her tail or head of it. She can lift that part but the rest of the tail is just limp. I don't know if this is something that is normal and maybe will fix itself or if she needs to go to the vet. Tried to add some photos.

July 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. There has probably been an injury to her tail, as this doesn't tend to happen for no reason. If she goes outside, she may have had some trauma that caused this. It does not seem normal to me, and I think it would be a good idea to have her seen by a veterinarian - they will be able to examine her and give you treatment options. I hope that all goes well for her!

July 27, 2020

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Pip

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Tuxedo

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5 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Swelling
Paralysis
Floppy Tail

I adopted Pip at 6 months old and right away noticed he couldn't move the lower half of his tail. He can wag but the end just flops around. It doesn't seem to hurt him. I've accidentally stepped on the end of his tail and he doesn't react. At about 2 years old, I did notice a swelling at the base of his tail. Took him in and the vet said it's a cyst, pretty common, but I wonder if that's causing some of the nerve issues. He's a perfectly happy cat otherwise. Sometimes his tail will twitch a little, like he has a tiny bit of movement, but mostly the lower half just flops over.

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Fluffy

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Domestic Long Haired

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10 Years

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Moderate severity

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2 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Pain

My sons cat, fluff, is in pain around his back end and tail. Tail twitches and he bites at it and around his backside on his spine. My dog pins him down and I’m afraid she did something to his backend. He does jump up on stuff and eats and drinks good. I’m not into money so am afraid I won’t be able to help him much but can’t ignore him being like this. He won’t let me touch him from about 2 inches from his back to his tail.

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Milk

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Ragdoll cat

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Paw
Pain When Crooked Part Gets Touched

Hi, I have a 1-2 year old cat that has straight tail, and this week I found him with his tail crooked and with a limping right front paw (a bit swollen) and I can't tell if it was caused by an infected injury or a bruise because I can't see any blood or notice any change of color in the skin. My cat can still move his tail but when I touch the crooked part which is close to the tip/end of the tail it would hurt him same thing with the limping paw. Anyone got any idea on how to treat him at home? I can't really afford to take him to the vet because of financial problem but I don't want him to suffer.

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Tux(edo)

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Tuxedo

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5 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Limp Tail

I tried placing my cat down from the desk but when I lifted her and tried placing her down, I dropped her by accident and now she has a tail that has been limping since last night.

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Shadow

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Russian Blue

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3 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Fatigue And Fever

My cat wasn't moving eating or drinking he stayed in one spot he had a fever and his eyelids were covering half his eyes. We knew something was wrong so I looked up what can happen with a fever and it said it causes fatigue which explained why he didn't move but We thought it was his urinary acting up again but he was peeing good so we knew he was just sick but we don't know what from. He was in a fight two nights ago she we thought maybe he was injured and got an infection but we didn't see any open wounds. I realize that he wouldn't sit on his butt completely he would just squat. I didn't know why but This morning I bumped his tail on accident and he hissed at me and his ears went flat so I thought maybe I accidentally hurt him. But when he was laying down at the back door I noticed his tail was swollen so I barley touched it and he hissed. So we're not sure if it's broken or maybe he got scratched and it's infected which caused his fever but we're stuck. Anyone know what I should do?

Tail Trauma Average Cost

From 517 quotes ranging from $100 - $800

Average Cost

$350