Helping Your Cat Heal From a Tail Amputation

By Betty Lewis

Your cat uses her tail to help her balance and to communicate what she's feeling. If she sustained an injury requiring tail amputation, chances are she'll have a full recovery to live a happy, tailless life. As she recuperates, your job is to see she gets plenty of rest, keep her clean and help with toilet duties, if necessary.

Post-Surgery Recovery Room

Generally, recovering from a tail amputation requires much of the same care any other surgery requires. Provide your cat with clean bedding in a quiet place, away from the hustle-bustle and stress of the house. She'll appreciate an easily accessible litter pan, preferably one with low sides that makes for an easy entrance and exit. Make sure she has plenty of fresh water and offer food as your veterinarian recommends.

Post-Amputation Care

Depending on the extent of her injury, your cat may have dressing on her tail, which may be tempting for her to pick at. She'll also likely try to groom her tail or surgery site, particularly as it heals and begins to itch. Though she may not be happy with it, an e-collar will keep her from licking or biting at her wound, promoting healing. Watch for signs her surgical site isn't healing properly, including:

  • oozing
  • odor
  • pain
  • redness
  • swelling
  • bruising
  • heat

If you see signs your cat's amputation wound is not healing properly, she should see her veterinarian for treatment.

Special Care

Depending on the extent of your cat's injury and surgery, she may require cage rest after surgery to allow her tail time to properly heal. Rest also improves the chances she'll regain nerve function. You may be required to become more involved in your cat's toilet habits during her recovery. If she becomes constipated, the vet may recommend a stool softener. If she has no feeling in her urethra, you will have to express her bladder for her. The vet may also prescribe drugs such as diazepam and bethanachol to help bladder contraction and sphincter control. If your cat doesn't have bladder or fecal control, you will have to bathe her daily.

Living Tailless

Most cats have a full recovery from a tail amputation, suffering no ill effects or change in lifestyle. Depending on how much of her tail is removed, your cat may have some difficulty jumping or getting her balance, however she'll likely overcome that as she gets used to the loss of her tail. Occasionally, a cat may have some challenges controlling her bladder and bowels, depending on the extent of her injury. If she doesn't regain her nerve function, you'll need to express her bladder two or three times a day; she'll also need her back end cleaned and dried at least once daily. Cats who have urinary incontinence have an increased risk of urinary bladder and kidney infections, as well as urine burns, bedsores and fecal dermatitis.