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ERAnimalNurse, Emergency Critical Care Nurse
Category: Cat
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Experience:  16+ years of veterinary experience
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Swollen in the base of tail, remainder of tail hangs lifeless,

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Swollen in the base of tail, remainder of tail hangs lifeless, hiding alot and acting lehtargic. She also hasn't defecated today accept for a small compact amount. She seems quite uncomfortable and doesn't like to be touched.

Is there something I can do for her at home?



I am sorry Mitzi is having trouble. Based on your description, I think it's possible that she may have broken her tail. This can happen in cats if they experience a fall, or if the tail gets caught in something, usually a door. Sometimes if the tail is stepped on the base can fracture as well. A broken tail is very painful and can cause some pretty serious problems for a kitty. This is because a kitty with a broken tail is in so much pain, they cannot posture properly to urinate or defecate. Not being able to urinate can lead to serious illness (equivalent to a urinary blockage). Not being able to defecate will lead to nausea, abdominal pain and decreased appetite. Pain from the fracture can lead to a lack of appetite and shock. Treatment includes pain control and in many cases involves amputation of the tail, depending on the fracture. Please see the following website for more information on broken tails in cats.


You cannot fix this at home, nor should you try. There aren't even any safe over the counter pain medicines you could give, as cats are sensitive and require specialized dosing. Addressing pain is only one part of the solution, and your kitty may need a urinary catheter to help her urinate initially. She needs to see a vet, and it needs to be now. This cannot wait until Monday, and you should consider taking her to an emergency vet right away. The longer it takes to have her seen, the more swollen the tail can become, the larger her bladder can become (it is possible for a bladder to rupture if the kitty cannot urinate), and the closer to shock she will be. All of these instances serve to complicate matters, and require more time and considerably more money to fix.


Hopefully the tail is not broken, but the treatment can be similar for soft tissue damage (sprain or strain), minus the amputation. I have seen some pretty bad sprains that still required amputations though, so the vet will help you decide the best option for Mitzi.


I hope she feels better soon. Please let me know if there is anything else I can help with.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX I did a poor job of clarity. Using the word "lifeless" apparently led you to believe that there was no movement, however, she can still move her tail. Furthermore, she is strictly an indoor cat and is well taken looked after... I cannot see how a brake could occur without our knowing.

The largest concern that I am having is that our air conditioner went out twice this week and it may have gotten too hot for her leading to some potential dehydration and/or constipation... is this possible? That is why I was seeking a potential home remedy.

i realize that you cannot be sure on this but from my own non professional analysis, it does not look like a broken tail to me.


Thanks again for your help.

It would be possible for the lack of air conditioning to lead to heat exhaustion and mild dehydration, but typically that takes quite a while to cause constipation. However, cats don't always respond to things in a typical manner, so it's quite possible your theory is correct. I am still concerned about her tail, because of the swelling at the base of it, but that could be incidental. Tail movement is good, as long as she has full range of motion. In fractures, the tails are usually completely limp and very painful. In sprains the tail can have some range of motion but can still be so uncomfortable that urination and defecation is not possible.


I want to be clear in stating that there are very few things you can manage at home, and constipation is not one of them. If she is constipated, you may also see a distended or uncomfortable abdomen, lip smacking, drooling, gagging or vomiting, and a decreased to non existent appetite.


Make sure she has access to plenty of fresh water, and offer her canned food if you don't already (canned food has a very high water content, often tastes good and can be a sneaky way to help rehydrate her). You can even try some tuna in spring water, and just don't squish out all of the water. Monitor her litter box habits closely. If she stops eating, vomits, goes into the box and strains to either urinate or defecate, seems painful or just isn't acting herself, take her in right away. As long as she is eating, drinking and urinating and seems comfortable, you may be able to wait until Monday to have her seen.


Hopefully she became mildly dehydrated from the lack of AC and is just requiring a few days to get back to normal. Good luck with your baby.

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