I occasionally give presentations to small children at our local library about being kind to animals. One of the most frequently asked cat questions is, "Why do cats have tails?" I explain that a cat has a tail to help him with all sorts of kitty stuff, like keeping their balance. A cat's balance is crucial to their daily activities and their health.
According to Daily Paws, cited below, "there are a lot of nerves in a cat's tail which is very sensitive to touch." During dramatic leaps known well to cat people, balance becomes counterbalance, giving validity to old wisdom about cats always landing on all fours. It may have something to do with how a cat carries his tail. Our pet cats actually have special characteristics in how they move their tails. Catster, cited below, states, "The Domestic cat is the only feline that can hold its tail in a vertical position while walking. Wild cats hold their tails horizontally or tucked between their legs."
A cat's mobility can be credited to the fantastic construction of his tail. Daily Paws says the average cat's tail is 9-11 inches long. However, a lion's tail can be up to 3.5 feet long - no wonder he can't hold it straight up in the air!
An intricate web of muscles, ligaments, tendons, blood vessels, and 12-23 vertebrae holds together a feline tail. Daily Paws explains, "A cat's tail is an extension of its spine, and although the spinal cord stops before reaching the tail, numerous nerves branch off from it and continue traveling through the tail."
Like any other part of a cat's body, keeping a fit tail is important for a cat's health. Even though the tail is rugged and flexible, it can be injured. Bones can be fractured, or vertebrae can be dislocated. A cat's tail can also be harmed by being pulled too hard by a child or getting attacked by another animal. Any injury can mean damaged nerves, blood vessels, or even bladder or bowel issues. It is time to visit the veterinarian if a cat is observed with a drooping tail.
Fortunately, Hillspet experts say, "In many cases, a cat's tail will heal on its own." Rest and a pain reliever may be all some injured kitties will need. Others may require more extensive treatment or perhaps surgery. Even though an injury to a cat's tail can take up to six months to heal, most will resume their dynamic balancing act and cat health improves. Even a cat born without a tail, such as the Manx, or one who loses it due to one of the factors we've discussed, can live a normal, happy life.
Quote to remember: "If you hold a cat by the tail, you learn things you cannot learn any other way." - Mark Twain
"How to Tell If Your Cat Has a Broken Tail"
"5 Cool Cat Tail Facts"
"The Tales Your Cat's Tail Tells"