Cat tail injury near end - Amputate tip or most of tail?

One of my cats broke his tail a couple inches from the tip - I believe it was caught in a screen door, latched near the top, which twisted open at the base when pushed, then sprang closed. (I’m not sure of the geometry of pushing with the front paw yet catching the tail, but it’s the only explanation I can find for the injury which happened while he was right near that door.) One side of the tail is skinned for a bit over an inch, then broken at the end of that, maybe 2" from the end.

He was in to the vet and is scheduled for amputation on Tuesday. The vet talked about taking it off just before the injury, but then was concerned that even with a collar he would be able to reach that and interfere with healing, so she also talked of taking off most of the tail.

I know tail amputations are not uncommon and read the stories in the Jan. '16 thread, as well as articles elsewhere online. But most amputations discussed seem to be of most of the tail. (A lot of injuries appear to be near the base or midway down.)

Does anyone have experience with removing just a few inches (4"??) of tail? How did that go?

I’m getting family commenting a stylish short bob might actually look better than an abruptly-ending longish tail. And my first cat (oh so many decades ago) was a Manx “stumpy” so I know the look! But I hate to cut off more of an appendage than necessary, even when I know cats (esp. indoor, which he is) do fine without a tail.

Edit to include Hogan’s picture, just woken from a nap on the dog bed he stole. You can see where the injury is.

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You might not need to amputate at all. I’ve had cats where they did that and although they always had a bump or “crick” in the tail, they lived their lives just fine.

My current cat had a tussle with some neighbor cat, and I thought it might be necessary, but vet said no, she would be fine, just treat the injury.

If it’s not infected, you might just go that route, so maybe a second opinion?

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Would the amputation be any worse than just letting it heal on it’s own? What is the benefit of removing the tail?

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I’d definitely talk to your vet. They’ll be able to advise you on where to amputate if its necessary. I’ve known some dogs that have had tails partially amputated and it was a rough recovery for both of them so hopefully it won’t need to be amputated at all.

Funny you should mention the nickname “Stumpy.” My cat is missing about a third of her tail and that’s what I heard my electrician affectionately calling her while she was trying to “help” him with his work.

For the record, I think my cat is beautiful even with a lenght-challenged tail. :grin:

Marie, AKA “Stumpy”

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One of my previous cats had the tip of her tail removed after a similar accident involving her trying to climb up the chimney. She must have caught the vent or something and degloved her tail at the tip. They amputated just the tip of her tail and she recovered just fine. It healed quickly with no complications.

I think if it needs removing you can just take off the tip.

She was not happy with me that day. She was covered in soot and I gave her a bath before realizing she had a tail injury.

Oh, poor thing. That must have been painful, on top of being a bath!

@Sparrowette, I know 2nd opinions are a good idea but I trust the vet and the next-closest are close to an hour away and quite possibly not taking new clients. Though you make me realize I could send a picture to our horse vet (1+ hr away) who also cares for our house pets during the spring farm call.

This vet’s opinion is that if left alone, best case was the tail tip sloughs off on its own. The side of the vertebra is exposed right above the break. It happened a week ago today and I waited a while before taking him to the vet. It sounds like she saw signs of local infection, and gave him a shot of Convenia. To my eye it looked better the day after it happened than it did yesterday. (I’ll admit, I’m a bit grossed out & not examining it as carefully as I should.)

She herself was the one who talked about the two possible lengths - it sounded like she’d run into an issue before with a cat (cats?) who impeded healing when just the tip was removed, so she presented the two options but we didn’t come to a conclusion. Everything I found online seemed to show or discuss amputation of all or half the tail, so I thought I would ask here for experiences.

@SummerRose, Marie is cute! You’re right, that tail doesn’t hurt her looks at all! And it really helps me to see that.

It’s been a while since I had a brown tabby but my Imp (the Manx, or possibly Manx cross; I was quite young when we got him and am not sure) was one, and I had one other that we got the month we moved into our first owned house. So I do love the color.

“Stumpies” are actually a thing with Manx; Manx are not all born with no tail, Imp’s was a couple inches long but we also got a brother with a long tail. Interestingly, Imp also had the long hind leg look of a Manx, but his long-tailed brother was longer and slimmer with a flat back.

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I’ve had two that had to have amputations. Both were partials. Both were just fine with the partials - never bothered the site or the stitches at all.

Rascal degloved half of his tail, had the amputation just above the start of the wound later that day. No problems.

Sweetums broke his tail about halfway down. Amputated the next day. No problems.

One of my since-gone kitties, Trixie, came in one morning with half her tail missing. We never figured out what happened, but by the time we got her to the vet, it had already started to heal over on its own. So she ran around with half a tail for most of her life. No problems.

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One of my cats had a broken tail about midpoint from what we assume was an owl or coyote. Hers was extremely painful-this was about 17 years ago and the vet at the time just went straight to amputating the whole thing. And then asked me if I’d like to see it when I went to pick her up-I’ve always thought that was odd. no thank you…She felt much better when it was gone and went on to live out the rest of her 20 years without a tail happily. And missing the white tip which probably was why she got grabbed in the first place since the rest of her was chocolate brown and orange.

She was a barn cat nab… back then we called all the baby kittens pokeytails b/c of how their little tails are straight up when they learn to get around. Her wild mama was taking the kittens out to the fields so we grabbed her before she was taken and my kids never stopped calling her Pokeytail. And then a few years down the road she was truly a pokeytail with her little stub. Prophesy.

We had another one break his tail somehow and it healed fine as was with the vet’s blessing; he’s still wandering around here somewhere with his entire tail.

I think the problem here is who knows how your specific cat will react. Animals are so silly and refuse to follow any rules.

I would think that many cats, with proper pain management on board, would do fine with just the tip removed.

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Yes, that’s true. My current horse reminds me of that every time she finds another way to injure herself in a pasture that two previous horses spent nearly 20 years in, incident-free.

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I’d go for trying to get it heal.
But if it has to come off, I’d want to leave as much tail as possible. They use it to balance.

My Cheeto has an odd boneless poof at the very end of his tail
Pictured here:

He had it when I got him from a shelter at ~6mos old.
Shelter normally tips ears & his are not.
I always wondered if they tipped his tail instead.

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When I was a kid, we had a cat that broke the end of his tail and we splinted it( popsicle sticks/ tape) and it healed just fine even though it was crooked.

Really whatever you think the cat will do best with. We have had a couple bob tailed cats that never had balance issues having no tail.

If he is overly " expressive" with his tail than maybe taking that part off would be the least painful for his recovery.

One of my cats (Roughy) has a short tail. He was a stray and it was like that when he came to my place so I don’t know if he was born like that or if something happened to it. If you feel the tip, there is a kink in it. He doesn’t like it to be touched very much. He is very expressive with his tail…it swishes around a lot! I have wondered if it’s more swishy because of the tip or the tail being short.

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@avjudge how’s your cattail?

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I’ve been trying to get a cute picture but he’s not cooperating! I’d guess about half his tail is gone and it doesn’t seem to bother him at all. The cone, on the other hand, that bothers him! As does our new cat, a youngish male that won’t leave any of the existing cats alone and they hadn’t worked things out before the surgery.

Hogan in the back corner of the back storeroom

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I’m glad it went well. Poor Hogan, how long does he have to be in the cone?

I don’t have a definite number of days. He has a recheck/stitch removal at 2 weeks (8/16). I suspect she will want him to stay in it until then.

We were instructed to remove the bandage a day after surgery, and the only time he has shown pain was when we tried to do that. (The vet wrap was stubborn!!) I gave up and brought him in the next morning to have a tech do it. At the time I asked how it looked and she said great.

Meanwhile, the puncture wound above her hoof that put my horse in the clinic for nearly a week (home 12 days ago) is refusing to heal - our horse vet just did a recheck and was able to express some pus, plus the pastern is swollen with some swelling extending above the knee - so I hope Hogan does better than her!

Sorry to hear about your horse’s injury. Sending healing vibes.

Thanks. Had 2 horses on this pasture for ~18 summers with no known injury and in 3 years Flicka has gashed her leg (no vet but a week of bandaging), was stricken with a mystery illness (vet suspects ate something she shouldn’t???) and now stabbed herself on something, probably a fallen tree branch. I guess the universe has to balance things out. I just hope it’s balanced, and the escalating severity isn’t the true pattern to be continued!

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Glad the tail is doing well. Jingles for the horse.