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How to Spot a Broken Cat Tail: 5 Vet-Reviewed Steps

Written by: Kristin Hitchcock

Last Updated on July 5, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

tail of a cat on vintage background

How to Spot a Broken Cat Tail: 5 Vet-Reviewed Steps

VET APPROVED

Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM) Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM)

Veterinarian

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Cats have very flexible tails, and you may even see them with “kinks” and strange angles. Usually, this doesn’t mean that the cat’s tail is broken. However, cats can certainly break their tails.

While a tail may seem like one of the less important areas of your cat’s body, a tail is essential to your cat’s balance. Plus, damage to your cat’s tail can cause damage to your cat’s backbone, which can lead to paralysis and a host of other problems.

Below, we’ll explore exactly how to determine if your cat has broken their tail, as well as what to do if they have broken it.

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Can Cats Break Their Tail?

Cat Skeletal System
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Cats can absolutely break their tails. A cat’s tail is an extension of their spine—it’s made up of the same vertebrae, bones, blood vessels, and muscles. So, just like a cat can break their back, they can also break their tail.

A broken tail is caused by trauma of all sorts. Cats may fall on their tail wrong, get hit by a car, or have it pulled at a bad angle. Either way, broken tails are fairly rare, so the average fall isn’t going to break your cat’s tail.

The 5 Steps to Take if You Think Your Cat’s Tail Is Broken

1. Watch for Signs of Injury

cat wagging its tail
Image Credit: Christel SAGNIEZ, Pixabay

If a cat is injured, they likely won’t want to be touched. Therefore, your best bet is to watch for signs of injury from a distance. A cat that’s just holding their tail at a weird angle probably won’t do so for long. They also won’t show any other signs of injury. However, a cat with a broken tail won’t move their tail much—if at all.


2. Examine the Tail

If your cat lets you, you should take a closer look at their tail very gently. Check for obvious signs of injury, like blood or open wounds. A cat likely won’t want you to touch the hurt part of their tail when it is broken. So, if your usually calm cat suddenly turns into a raging ball of fur when you touch them, then they may have a broken tail.


3. Call the Vet

vet checking up a cat
Image Credit: brodtcast, Shutterstock

If you suspect that your cat has a broken tail, you should contact your vet. Injuries to their tail can cause damage to their spine—which can result in paralysis. Therefore, it’s vital to get their tail looked at and fixed. There are many different treatment options available, and your vet can help you determine the best one for your feline.


4. Follow the Vet’s Instructions

After visiting the vet, you should follow their directions carefully to ensure that your cat’s tail heals properly. Often, this will involve resting, pain medication, and maybe even surgery. Sometimes, it’s determined that amputation is more straightforward than trying to heal the break, especially if it is complicated.

While tails do typically heal fine with veterinary assistance, it’s important to follow these instructions to ensure complications don’t arise. Further damage to an injured tail can result in damage to other parts of your cat’s body, which may not be as easy to fix.


5. Monitor Your Feline

yellow sad sick cat
Image Credit: Nikolay Bassov, Shutterstock

You’ll need to monitor your cat for further problems, especially during the first few days after injury. Complications and infections are sadly quite common with cats. These can be extremely serious and cause further damage to your cat’s spine and the surrounding area.

Contact your vet if you have any concerns or questions about your cat’s condition. While many cats do recover from a broken tail, there is always a chance that something won’t go right.

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Can You Prevent a Cat From Breaking Its Tail?

Sadly, tail breaks tend to be freak accidents that are hard to prevent. Therefore, if your cat breaks their tail, there likely wasn’t anything you could have done about it. You should always monitor your cat for signs of injury, as it’s important to ensure that they get treatment right away.

You can take some steps to ensure that your cat is safe when indoors. Remove heavy objects that might fall on your cat. Don’t let your cat run through the neighborhood unchecked and avoid letting them wander where they may get injured, such as in shop areas.

However, in the end, there sadly isn’t much you can actually do to prevent these injuries.

cat tail
Image Credit: Pixabay

What Should I Do If My Cat Breaks Its Tail?

You should always call your vet if you believe your cat has broken its tail. Cats can have them amputated and live a relatively normal life.

Early treatment prevents complications, which can cause tons of problems for your feline. If the cat’s tail is bleeding, wrap it in a towel if possible. Follow your vet’s instructions to ensure that the cat heals properly.

Most cats recover from their tails being broken just fine. It’s mostly a matter of avoiding complications in the meantime.

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Conclusion

Feline tail injuries aren’t all that common. However, they can occur and often affect the spine. Therefore, it’s important to get your feline seen as quickly as possible. Otherwise, complications have a higher chance of occurring.

A cat with a broken tail needs vet treatment right away. Be sure to follow your vet’s instructions, which may include rest, pain management, and bladder assistance.

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Featured Image Credit: italay, Shutterstock

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