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My mother’s cat came home yesterday with his tail hanging down

My mother’s cat came home yesterday with his tail hanging down

by Gill

My mother’s cat came home yesterday with his tail hanging down, seems like something has happened to it.

Thanks for any advice.


Hi Gill.. having read Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook fairly extensively (
for obvious reasons – a great book by the way), what immediately comes to mind is a spinal cord injury. Of course it may be that you have “jumped the gun” and the tail is OK (no criticism intended).

I will presume that there has been some sort of injury, however.

The authors of the above book, vets Carlson and Giffin (and others in more modern versions) say that a very common injury is when a car runs over a cat’s tail. This can pull apart the sacral-lumbar and coccygeal vertebrae. This stretches the nerves to the tail, rectum and bladder.

One sign is paralysis to the tail which is indicating when it “hangs loosely like a rope”.

The other signs are incontinence (fecal and urinary). You have not mentioned incontinence so the injury described might be incorrect.

The vets say that “any cat with a limp tail must be seen by a veterinarian and x-rayed for scaral injury“. This is because if the condition is not diagnosed and treated shortly after the injury occured the bladder paralysis will remain despite the nerve repairing itself.

If what I say is appropriate there may be other injuries.

If movement and sensation is not restored in the tail it may have to be amputated as it can represent a hazard to the cat in the paralysed state.

Cats who recover start to improve after about three weeks and improvement may continue for 6 months. Stretched nerves “often do not” return to normal, however.

Injected medication can also cause temporary nerve paralysis.

Hope this helps. If you have more information etc. please make a comment and I will discuss this further.

Associated page:

Cat Skeleton


My mother’s cat came home yesterday with his tail hanging down to cat health problems

Comments for
My mother’s cat came home yesterday with his tail hanging down

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Sep 27, 2010 sick uncle
by: kathy

Your uncle should have been bashed with a stick also. Probaly its tail got slammed in a door or was the victim of the never ending animal cruelty. No telling what happened. The solution is to keep the little darling inside.

Sep 24, 2010 Tail hanging down
by: Maggie

Something similar happened to my Grandmother’s moggie, Katie. She came in one morning with her tail hanging down. It appeared as if she had no control over the tail at all. It turned out that the night before my Uncle, who lives with my Grandmother, was having difficulty getting her out of the garage. And so he bashed her with a stick. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but they didn’t take her to the vet, and her tail never healed. If your Mother’s cat sounds anything like Katie’s tail, get her to a vet. As I believe Katie had some form of spinal or pelvic damage from this, which would have been very painful.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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