A broken tail can lead to severe problems for your cat. The tail contains several vertebrae, which connect to the cat's lower back, and trauma to the tail can ultimately cause problems with mobility, balance and even the cat's digestive system because of damage to nearby nerves. If you think your cat's tail is broken, learn more about the options available to you.
Symptoms to look for
Of course, you can often spot visible signs of trauma or damage to your cat's tail. For example, the tail may suddenly start to drag or hang awkwardly, or you may notice a visible kink. Some other symptoms may not seem so obvious.
These symptoms can include:
If you spot any of these signs (or anything else suspicious), you should take your cat to the vet immediately. Early treatment can help avoid long-term damage.
Diagnosis and tests
Your vet will need to carry out several tests to decide how serious the injury is. A visual inspection will often highlight the obvious signs, but further tests can help the vet decide on the best course of action. The vet will need to know the precise location and the extent of the injury.
An X-ray is generally a quick way to pinpoint the problem. Blood tests and urinalysis are also sometimes necessary if the underlying cause of the problem is unclear or to find out if the injury has caused other symptoms.
A referral to a neurological specialist is sometimes necessary with severe injuries. In this instance, the specialist can carry out an electromyogram. This procedure tests the muscles around the tail and sphincter to see if nerve damage is permanent.
The cat's treatment options will vary according to the nature of the injury. For example, a break at the end of the tail that doesn't cause any other side effects is probably not something to worry about. In many cases, these injuries will heal without intervention.
If the break in the tail is lower down, the vet may carry out surgery to repair the fracture. If the damage is severe and there are no other complications, the vet may suggest that he or she amputates the cat's tail. Amputation is a relatively straight-forward procedure. The animal may find it difficult to cope without the tail to start with, but most cats quickly learn to manage.
Unfortunately, tail damage is often so severe that the injury will permanently affect the cat's quality of life. For example, permanent nerve damage could mean that your cat remains incontinent for life. With severe injuries, your vet may recommend that the only humane option is to euthanize the animal.
Broken tails are relatively common in cats, but the scale of the injury varies from one animal to another. Talk to your local vet clinic, such as Ivanhoe Veterinary Clinic, for more advice.
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