Can a Cat’s Tail Be Broken?


cats tail

A cat’s tail is essentially an extension of their spine, and contains a lot of vertebrae. These bones can potentially be broken, especially in certain situations. Some of the most prominent reasons for a broken tail include getting their tail trapped in a door, being trodden on by accident, being bitten by another animal, being hit by a car or other vehicle and having their tail pulled sharply.

Tail injuries can be very serious, although minor damage can sometimes heal by itself. Here is our guide for recognising when your cat may have suffered a tail injury and what to expect next.

 Signs of a Broken Tail

Some of the common indications that your cat may have suffered injury to their tail include:

  • A noticeable kink in the tail indicates that an injury has occurred.
  • Pain in the tail area is touched.
  • Evidence of a bite or other injury.
  • Swelling in the tail area.
  • The tail hanging down and not supporting itself properly.
  • Balance issues and/or difficulty walking or moving.
  • Faecal and/or urinary incontinence or being unable to empty their bladder and/or bowels at all.
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 Potential Consequences of a Broken Tail

Some tail injuries can potentially be very serious. In some scenarios, they can affect the spine, bowel and bladder. Injury to the tail can be very minor and heal by themselves but depending on the severity of the damage, there can be lasting repercussions.

 Diagnosis for Broken Tail

If you suspect that your cat has a ‘tail injury’, take them to the vet immediately. A vet can determine if the tail is definitely broken very quickly and will then look to confirm which part has been affected, how extensive the damage is and if there is any impact on the spine and other parts of the body. This may involve x rays, a physical examination and manipulation of the tail.

Change to Treatment for Tail Injuries

Treatment will depend on the severity of the damage. A minor injury may only require pain relief and possibly antibiotics. Severe injury including most broken tails will usually require surgical treatment and amputation may be indicated.

Paralysis of the tail will often result in amputation, especially if feeling in the tail is not expected to return. This is likely to be the case even if movement and the spine have not been impacted.

As a worst case scenario, a vet may recommend putting a cat to sleep if there is permanent and irreversible damage to the spine and legs, and bladder and/or bowel control has been permanently affected.

[Photo Credit: cowlet ]

  • Mark Rogers

    If a human has spinal damage or bladder problems are they murdered? No, then why do this to a cat?

    • Gremlin

      Because humans can come to term with things – in the sense that they know there limitations e.g. a one legged person wouldn’t try to nip across the road between fast moving cars (as a 2 legged person might). An animal can’t work this out and would be killed. A cat that can’t climb a tree or jump up a fence could be in danger if it were chased by a vicious, cat-eating dog. As for bladder control – humans are given a colostomy, this isn’t possible for an animal. The urine would run down the leg of an animal who didn’t have control, not only causing it to stink but also creating terrible sores. It isn’t a case of the bladder becoming full and then leaking out in one go, it leaks constantly (a bit like a dripping tap).

      • Mark Rogers

        If that cat has someone to care for it and look after it then there should be no reason to murder it.
        Also, what about humans who are disabled, should we just kill those off too?
        There are far more humans who are a waste of resources still hanging around waiting to die.

      • Sarah st romaine

        My cat Rosie had her tail amputated after a car hit her. She had nerve damage to her bowel and bladder but my vet taught me how to express her bowel/bladder and she lived for a further four years with no incontinence….playing, chasing birds etc….with guidance it can be done

  • Kath

    Our cat has a broken tail and has had it since we got her as a small kitten from a rescue centre. The only thing we have ever noticed is that she does not have the confidence to climb or jump up high whereas our other cats in the past have climbed trees and even walked along the tops of fences. She has never shown any indication of pain and is happy to let you feel her tail.

  • Peter W

    We once had a lively young cat whose tail got broken at the base (we don’t know how – probably hit by a car). There was simply no connection between the tail and the spine, and as she jumped about the loose tail would flap all over the place. A wise old vet suggested that if we confined her in a cage so that she couldn’t be so athletic, it might heal itself. So for a the next few weeks she lived in a cage, and to our amazement she absolutely loved it! We had to drag her out to “muck her out”, and she couldn’t wait to get back in again. After a few days the tail started to lift slightly when she saw us, then a bit more, then a bit more until it was almost back to normal. Later in life the end of the tail necrotised and bits would progressively fall off, but it never bothered her.