How to Treat a Cat Tail Injury From Bites and Burns to Fractures

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Cat tail injuries can be very minor, needing only a bandage, or they can be extremely serious. Your cat's tail can get into all types of mischief and it's important to know how to treat an injured tail quickly and properly.

Accidents happen โ€” and sometimes when a cat gets into an accident, injuries follow. As a pet parent, youโ€™ll want to know how to treat a cat-tail injury.

But before we get into the most common injuries, letโ€™s first get a little more familiar with the tail. The tail is made up of many small vertebrae, ligaments, tendons, and nerve bundles. The first vertebra of the tail connects to the sacrum, a special backbone. The spinal cord ends inches above the sacrum, but nerve endings extend down and through the tail. These nerve endings are responsible for feeling and control in the hind legs, as well as the bladder, large intestine, and anal muscles.

Now that youโ€™re more familiar with a catโ€™s tail, here are 7 common cat tail injuries โ€” including their causes and treatments:

Wounds and Burns

Whether your cat has sustained a bite to the tail during a fight, caught and cut its tail in a fence, or suffered a burn while exploring near a hot stove, it needs to be treated, and properly.

When treating any type of tail injury, you should first bring your cat to a familiar space that will put them at ease. If itโ€™s a cut you treating, the next step is to apply pressure with a sterile piece of gauze; this will help slow or stop any bleeding. Then clean the area with antibacterial soap and cover it with a bandage. A scratch is a scratch, but a cut should be brought to your veterinarian's attention. He or she can gauge the severity of the injury and whether or not antibiotics, pain medication, or stitches are needed.

As for bites, call your vet right away. Cat bites, due to bacteria in feline saliva, can often lead to a bigger health issue, such as viral infection. Before you head out the door for emergency care, gently clean the area with antibacterial soap, bandage the wound, and your vet will take it from there.

Burns also call for an immediate trip to the vet. If itโ€™s a thermal burn, caused by heat or fire, apply a cold compress and keep it in place while en route. If itโ€™s a chemical burn, flush the area with water first.


Abscesses are actually quite common when it comes to tail injuries, typically from a cat bite or scratch. Abscesses form when bacteria from under another catโ€™s nails or within their saliva festers under the skin at the site of a wound and swells into a pus-filled lump.

If the infection is left untreated it could become serious. So for initial at-home treatment, clip any hair around the abscess and apply a hot, moist compress; this will begin the draining process. Youโ€™ll need to apply the compress two to three times a day for 20 minutes until completely drained, as well as clean the area with antibacterial soap and hydrogen peroxide. If you do not see improvement within three days bring your cat to the vet -- the abscess may have already become more serious and antibiotics or additional treatment may be needed.


Common causes of tail dislocation include the tail being stepped on, pulled (often by small children), caught in a door, run over by a bike or car, or yanked during a scuffle with another animal. A dislocation occurs when the vertebrae connecting the tail to the lower back slip out of place and the connective tissue that supports the tail stretches.

Your vet will need to treat this injury and they are most likely to prescribe anti-inflammatory and pain medications. The injury may heal on its own, but if it is severe โ€” involving nerve damage โ€” there is a chance amputation may be suggested.

Fractures and Breaks

Common causes of fractures and breaks are similar to what can cause dislocations. However, falls are actually the leading cause of tail fractures and breaks in cats.

When one of the many vertebrae that comprise the tail is fractured or broken, a kinked or drooping tail may be the only sign to the untrained eye. But your vet will know, especially with the help of an x-ray. From there the treatment will be similar to that of dislocations. The likelihood of nerve damage occurring is higher with a fracture or break through, which could cause a variety of other health issues.

Nerve Damage

Nerve damage can be caused by any and all of the injuries listed above. Damage can occur in just the tip of the tail, resulting in constant pain, or to the base of the tail, resulting in paralysis. It all depends on whether or not the cauda equina nerves have been stretched or torn.

Stretched nerves can heal on their own, typically within six months. But if the nerve damage causes lameness in the hind legs and/or urinary and fecal incontinence, your vet will likely recommend amputation as the best treatment.

While the above can be found to be beneficial for your cats, if you want to delve a little deeper into this aspect the below information can be found to be really helpful for you.

Treating a Cat's tail Injury

Cat injuries range from superficial cuts to life-threatening severe wounds. The cat's tail is a vulnerable part of the cat, and it is important for you the owner- to know how to treat a tail injury. The tail is made of multiple small vertebrae, tendons, nerve bundles, and ligaments. The tail's first vertebra links to the sacrum. This is a special kind of backbone. The cat's spinal cord finishes a few inches above the sacrum. The nerve endings extend down and then through the animal's tail. The nerve endings transfer control and feeling in the feline's hind legs. It also sends impulses to the bladder, anal muscles, and large intestine.

The cat must be comfortable.

Your cat could be injured on its tail due to many reasons. The most common cause is a fight between two cats. Other reasons include the tail being caught and cut in any fence. The appendage could also suffer a burn due to proximity to a hot stove. Whatever the reason, it must be appropriately treated.

Take the cat to its familiar place to treat the injury. This will put the feline at ease. If the cat has a cut, the first step is to take a piece of sterile gauze and apply pressure on the wound. This will stop or slow any bleeding. The area should then be cleaned with a quality antibacterial soap. Use a bandage to cover it. Even though it is a simple cut, take the cat to the veterinarian. Only a medical professional could understand the severity of that specific injury. The veterinarian will decide whether pain medication or antibiotics should be given to the cat.

Bites and abscesses

Take the cat to the veterinarian right then if your cat's tail has been bitten. Cat bites have bacteria present in feline saliva and could lead to serious medical issues. As noted above, take an antibacterial soap and clean the area. After the wound is clean, bandage the wound. Your veterinarian will do the rest. If the injury is caused by fire or heat, or in medical terms a thermal burn, apply a cold compress and keep it there when you take your cat to the veterinarian. In the case of a chemical burn, flush the area with water. Abscesses are quite a typical kind of tail injury. These occur due to a cat scratching or biting another cat. An abscess occurs when the bacteria from the other cat's nail or the saliva festers below the skin at the wound site. It then bloats into a horrible-looking pus-filled lump. The infection could become a life-threatening one if left untreated. Take the cat to the veterinarian immediately. There could be a need for antibiotics and even additional treatment.

More on Pet Safety

A Guide to Pet First Aid Kits
Your Pet Emergency Checklist
Pet Fire Safety Checklist

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis, or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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