Friday, December 7, 2012

Limp tails in cats

cat sprained tail
This is about as high as poor Beorn's tail goes these days.
It's been about a week since Beorn turned up with mysterious injuries, and I'm still trying to figure out exactly what happened to him. This limp, strange tail may be providing me with some clues.

Originally, my husband and I believed that Beorn had been tapped by the car, but we were still a little unsure about where he had been hit, or whether he had really been hit at all, as we could never find any dirt or gravel in his fur and my husband never felt the sickening bump-bump a driver notices when taking down a 10-pound cat.

But, now I am wondering if Beorn had his tail held high and was walking away from the car as it approached. If this had happened, he could have bent or broken that tail, and this could be responsible for all of the symptoms I've seen in the last week.

Tails are an extension of the spinal cord, and they contain a significant number of nerve bundles that supply the legs, the bladder and the bowels. Right after the accident, Beorn had some incontinence issues and he tended to stumble and stagger on his back legs. We didn't notice the tail issue, as we were focused on his legs, but I also never saw him lift that tail up. Now, much of the staggering is gone and he does have full bladder control, but he still can't lift the tail up. He can swing it, he can curl it around his feet, he can sort of shift it to the side, but he can't lift that tail. He also can't jump, which makes sense as he can't get his tail out of the way in order to propel himself up off the ground.

From the articles I've read (including this one and this one), tail fractures are usually quite serious and they require a significant amount of medical intervention. Tail sprains, on the other hand, seem to be a bit more mild in nature, and those do tend to heal up with time and rest.

We head back to the vet tomorrow morning for another checkup, and I'm hoping we'll hear good news.

In the interim, I've been giving Beorn plenty of attention and he has access to his beloved Snuggle Safe Pet Bed Microwave Heating Pad all day long (and I've been heating that thing up multiple times per day). Each day, he seems a little more jolly and a little more like himself. Yesterday, he even felt comfortable enough to stretch out on his back in the warm sunshine. If he continues to improve like this, we might have a fully healed cat when the summertime rolls around.

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