In cats, an upright tail is always a pleasant sight. A healthy, self-assured cat will hold its tail up high and proud. As a result, a cat’s tail that is drooping or dragging on the ground should raise red flags. It must be established whether the sudden limpness of the tail is voluntary or the result of an injury. Due to emotional discontent, cats will occasionally purposefully drag their tails along the ground. One of the bones in the tail’s apex may break if the cat is physically unable to lift it. As an alternative, the cat might have severed its tail from the spine’s base.
There is a distinction between a cat not wanting to lift its tail and one who is unable to do so due to physical limitations. While the former is alarming, it is easily fixable because it is a lifestyle issue. Your cat needs to be examined by a veterinarian if it is physically unable to lift its tail.
Why do cats lift their tails?
The most expressive features of the cat’s anatomy are its tails. An adept pet owner can frequently tell how their animal is feeling by looking at its tail. Typically, a cat with its tail held up and prominently displayed indicates that it is content and happy. The cat is saying hello to you if its tail is curled into a question mark. When you come home after a long absence, you frequently find yourself in this situation. Cats may lift their tails for a variety of non-emotional reasons. Cats frequently lift their tails for the following reasons:
- Elimination: Cats are meticulously clean, so they lift their tails when urinating in the litter box to prevent stains.
- Marking: At the base of their tails, cats have scent glands. Territorial claims are made using these glands.
- Greeting Other Cats: Cats enjoy showing off their behinds to one another. This is a call to sniff joyful pheromones.
- Attracting Attention: When your cat wants to play or eat, it will enlarge itself to make itself more noticeable.
- Fear or Aggression: Be aware that the tail is inflated. The cat is trying to appear big and commanding in this way.
Cats almost always lift their tails voluntarily. Cats have more muscles in and around their tail than almost any other mammal, according to the Journal of Anatomy. Any movement uses a number of these muscles.
Why is my cat’s tail hanging down?
Now that we know why cats lift their tails, we should investigate the opposite action. What results in the limping of a cat’s tail? This might be a problem with anxiety or sadness, or it might be brought on by physical trauma. Regardless, your cat needs assistance. A cat that is anxious will typically keep its tail down. Even between the legs is an option. Look into the possibility that your cat is feeling uneasy or uncertain. Typical justifications for cats’ anxiety include:
|Loneliness or Mourning:
|Cats are not as independent and solitary as they seem. Your cat might be missing a lost friend or previous owner.
|victim of bullying:
|Families with multiple pets experience the natural dynamics of dominance and submission. Make sure that this does not become bullying.
|Cats have keen hearing and smell senses. Your cat might detect the scent of a dog outside or become alarmed by loud noises in the distance.
|Changes to Routine:
|Have you relocated, altered your mealtimes, or changed your working shift schedules? Cats are fearful of change.
|Unpleasant Impending Experience:
|Your cat would associate picking up its carrier with a trip to the vet if it saw you doing so. The cat will become anxious and tense as a result.
But do not fall into the error of thinking that a low tail is always a sign of meekness. A low position can signify happiness or aggression just as much as a high, prominent tail can. Before leaping on prey, hunting cats frequently swish their tails from side to side while maintaining a low profile. Your cat might be getting ready for an attack, usually out of self-preservation. Naturally, all of this assumes that your cat is purposefully maintaining a low tail position. You need to find out if this behavior is free will. It is obviously more concerning if your cat is physically unable to lift its tail.
Why isn’t my cat’s tail moving?
As previously stated, the choice of whether to hold a cat’s tail high and proud or low and innocent should be deliberate. At the very least, the tail should move around and twitch. What does it mean when a cat doesn’t wag its tail? A completely static tail is frequently an indication of trauma. This could be a fracture, dislocation, or injury to the lower back or tailbone. It might also be related to nerve damage. You can perform tests to determine whether a cat can move its tail. These consist of:
- Look for signs of physical damage to the cat’s tail. At the base, there may be swelling.
- Pet the cat from head to tail. Pain at the tail base will make cats react negatively to being touched. Be prepared to receive scratches or hisses.
- Encourage your cat to eliminate. This will instinctively result in a lifting of the tail.
- Play with your cat. The interaction should cause the tail to move naturally as a result.
Injuries to Cats’ Tails
Cats suffering from impact trauma may be unable to lift their tails. This symptom typically results from a broken or fractured bone, a dislocated tail, or both. Rarely, the problem might lie with the cat’s spinal cord. The delicate tails of cats are susceptible to a variety of injuries. The following are typical causes of tail trauma in cats:
- Slammed into a door
- Stepped on by an owner
- Yanked, usually by a playful child
- Bitten or pulled into conflict with another animal
Apply first aid as soon as a tail injury appears. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice reports that pelvic problems are frequently caused by tail injuries. Without help, your cat might not heal properly and will experience pain.
Does My Cat Have a Back Problem?
Always rule out the possibility of a spinal injury. Beyond the inability to lift the tail, this will have a number of negative effects. The most frequent causes of feline spinal injuries are falls from great heights or auto accidents. Along with a variety of muscles, tendons, and ligaments, the tail of a cat is directly connected to the vertebrae. A cat’s tail may experience consequences from a spine injury. The likelihood that the cat won’t be able to lift its tail increases with the level of the back injury. In addition to being unable to lift its tail, your cat may exhibit the following warning signs of a back injury:
- uncoordinated, ungraceful gait
- Incontinence (cecal and/or urinary)
- inability to groom
- Muscular spasms
- refusal to move
- Reluctance to be touched, including uncharacteristic aggression when petted
- Hunching over
- Refusing food and water
- Excessive verbalization to express pain
Cats are experts at masking their discomfort or pain. Consult a vet if you think your cat might have a back injury. If the condition worsens, your cat might become permanently immobile. If your cat doesn’t seem to be suffering from a back injury, the problem will only affect its tail. Despite having a better prognosis than spinal trauma, this still requires serious consideration. As your first step, determine the kind of injury.
Is my cat’s tail dislocated?
The delicate tails of cats are prone to dislocation, especially when pulled or tugged. The backbone and tail are joined. The sacrum is in this area of the feline anatomy (tailbone). The spinal column of a cat terminates around the fifth vertebra. Tendons then join the tail to the back. The cauda equina, or “horse’s tail,” is another name for this. This indicates that pulling and moving a cat’s tail might cause nerve damage.
The cat will likely experience excruciating pain and lose bladder and bowel control as a result of this. The sooner the cat receives treatment, the greater the likelihood of a full recovery since nerve damage is reduced. A dislocated tail can be difficult to reset, unfortunately. Your cat might never fully regain control.
Is my cat’s tail broken?
The tail of a cat has between 19 and 21 bones. The term “caudal vertebrae” refers to these. A cat may not be able to lift its tail if one of these bones is broken or fractured. The likelihood that the cat won’t be able to lift its tail increases with the number of impacted vertebrae. Incontinence is the most typical sign of a break, according to a study of 51 cats with broken tails that was published in Veterinary Surgery. Unfortunately, a break or fracture in a cat’s tail might not be readily apparent. The position of the tail may droop slightly, indicating this injury. Cat tail fractures are frequently categorized into five groups of varying severity:
|Level 1 (Very Mild):
|slight pain in the head and tail. A full recovery is expected with minimal discomfort.
|Level 2 (Mild):
|lack of mobility in the tail. This will be painful, but the cat should recover fully with care.
|Level 3 (Moderate):
|Lack of mobility plus difficulty urinating The cat needs urgent care but should make a full recovery in time.
|Level 4 (Serious):
|Lack of tail mobility and fecal incontinence Most cats recover fully, but nerve damage is likely. Special care will be required.
|Level 5 (Chronic):
|Lack of mobility plus no control over the bowels Nerve damage is almost certain, leaving a 50/50 chance of survival.
Don’t just move on because you think your cat’s tail injury is capped at level 1. A thorough X-ray examination is warranted for any kind of tail trauma. This will show the extent of any damage and guarantee the cat receives proper care. Your cat will need pain medication while the break heals naturally, which typically takes time. Applying a splint to keep the tail elevated and prevent any difficulties with elimination may also be necessary.
Other cat tail injuries
Cats are unable to lift their tails for a variety of reasons, not just impact injuries. Particularly outdoor cats will come into contact with other animals. These exchanges won’t always be cordial. A cat may get bit on the tail if it fights with another cat in the neighborhood, a dog, or even a raccoon in the wild. As a result of the bacteria in the other animal’s mouth, this may result in a viral infection. Use antibacterial soap to clean the wound if your cat has one. Also, apply a bandage. After that, if your cat is still unable to lift its tail, it probably needs a course of prescription antibiotics.
Abscesses may form as a result of these disputes. Apply a warm flannel and clip the fur around the abscess in this situation. Three times per day, repeat this process. The abscess should theoretically drain as a result, but as before, antibiotics might also be needed. Cats can burn their tails as well. For instance, if your cat spends a lot of time in the kitchen, it could burn its tail on the stove or range. After applying a cold compress to the burned area, go see a veterinarian.
Will my cat’s tail be amputated?
A cat’s tail injury heals at a notoriously slow rate. Your cat might not fully recover for up to six months. For the safety of the cat, a veterinarian may advise amputation if doing so will significantly lower the cat’s quality of life. If a cat is expected to make a full recovery in a month, you’ll know it. After four weeks, it might still be unable to fully control its tail, but at the very least, the pain and discomfort ought to go away. Any long-term nerve damage will also be apparent during this time frame.
It is unlikely that a cat will ever stop having fecal or urinary problems if they persist for longer than a month. Amputation is frequently recommended at this point as the best option. A cat will frequently soil its tail if it is unable to lift it and finds it difficult to eliminate properly. The cat will experience stress from this in addition to the danger. Flystrike is a possibility because of the odor’s ability to draw flies.
Cats that have their tails amputated will lead normal, fulfilling lives. The cat might need a few weeks to perfect its balance without a tail. The cat will eventually forget that it underwent this significant surgery with time and patience. Check your cat’s mood and demeanor if it is unable to lift its tail. This should indicate whether the problem is psychological or physical. In the latter scenario, make sure the issue is fixed. If ignored, tail trauma may have long-term effects.