September 2012 Issue

When to Worry About Tail Injuries

Simple fractures may heal on their own, but scrapes and heavy bleeding need medical care.

A cat’s tail can wave happily, swish angrily and wrap around him contentedly. But when the tail is injured, more may be at stake than the ability to communicate mood. Injuries to the feline tail may be minor, causing a brief spasm of pain or a permanent crook, or they may damage the nerves so severely that bladder and sphincter control are affected temporarily or permanently. Common injuries include fractures, acute trauma that may involve damage to the skin or heavy bleeding, and what are known as avulsion injuries, caused by pulling, says board-certified surgeon James A. Flanders, DVM, Associate Professor at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Tails can also be damaged if they are bitten in a fight with another animal.

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