Did my kitten break her tail?
August 31, 2011 9:06 PM   Subscribe

My 5 month old kitten is behaving oddly- could she have a broken tail? If not, what could possibly be wrong?

YANMV, she will be going to the vet as soon as we possibly can, etc.

Our 5 month old kitten Ellie (obligatory blurry picture) suddenly began acting really strangely about an hour ago. She had been running around the house and playing as usual, and then I lost track of her for a few minutes. When I found her, she was laying in the dog bed with her entire front half flattened out and her back half doing a strange kind of half-kneading motion. She was also making a constant broken mrowr-type sound. This isn't unusual (she is the most vocal cat I have ever met) but it is usually not continuous or quite so pathetic sounding. She got up a minute later and walked away. A few minutes later, my roommate noticed that she was continuing that same sound.

We picked her up to try and check her out, and she didn't seem to have any kind of tenderness in her legs, back, or paws- but her tail is curved up and to one side, and she won't let it lay flat. Her tail is still moving, though, and she wasn't making any cries of pain while we were prodding her- but she has continued making that sad sound, and has advanced to crying loudly, as well (which is new- she has never made these sounds, which makes me think she may be in pain). She also had what some leaking, although I am unsure if it was urine or what. She's also been hopping around and playing with toys, as well.

We called the emergency vet when we first noticed her behavior and they said that as long as she was walking, she was ok for now. We will be taking her in as soon as possible, but we are really short on money for the next week or so, and I would at least like a vague idea of what could be going on and how much we would need to take care of it. It seems like her tail is too mobile to be broken- can cats have dislocated tails? If not, is there something else that could manifest in this way?
posted by kro to Pets & Animals (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Is she spayed? Because that's what girl cats do when they are in heat.
posted by so_gracefully at 9:08 PM on August 31, 2011 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: She's not spayed yet, but we were told she wouldn't go into heat until she was at least 6 months old? (she's actually closer to 4 months than 5, which is why it hadn't even crossed my mind) Also, would it have come on so suddenly? She went from being perfectly fine to acting strange in about 5 minutes. Although some quick googling says that kittens can go into heat as early as 4 months...guess we'll be making a spaying appointment sooner rather than later.
posted by kro at 9:15 PM on August 31, 2011

Best answer: Dude. Your cat is in heat. If you get her spayed, the symptoms will go away. Coming into estrus ("in heat") can happen as early as four months. If you don't take her to the vet to get her spayed ASAP, she'll behave this way for a week or more at a time. Also, keep her away from male cats! Kittens having kittens rarely ends well.

Now, if she's already spayed, you really need to go to the vet ASAP, because you're pretty much describing a cat in heat with textbook-like accuracy and if it's not that, something is really really wrong.
posted by juniperesque at 9:19 PM on August 31, 2011

Okay, phew. Yeah, she's in heat. Get her spayed before she develops any of the nasty habits that cats in estrus can develop while in heat, like spraying and excessive kneading. Those habits are hard to break once they're started. The cat I grew up with had kittens at 8 months, and sprayed urine for the rest of her life.
posted by juniperesque at 9:20 PM on August 31, 2011

Prepare to be irritated 24 hours a day for about a solid week now because of your horny cat. Get her spayed ASAP!
posted by tumid dahlia at 9:27 PM on August 31, 2011

Response by poster: Well, now I feel stupid. Luckily, she has absolutely no contact with male cats, just a very grumpy female cat. In my defense, the only female animals of any sort I have ever owned were spayed within a week of getting them, so it hadn't even come out in my mind as a possibility. Color me stupid.
posted by kro at 9:27 PM on August 31, 2011

Be very careful that she doesn't dash out the front door or a window.
posted by amtho at 9:37 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

You're not stupid, just worried. I can't believe that the emergency vet didn't immediately come to the same "LOL that's a cat in heat..." conclusion though.
posted by togdon at 10:06 PM on August 31, 2011 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: (in the vet's defense, my roommate was the one that called and she legitimately thought the kitten was dying for some reason, so I'm not even sure the vet tech she talked to actually even understood everything that was being said.)
posted by kro at 10:43 PM on August 31, 2011

Yeah, she's in heat. Although it is possible to spay a pregnant female cat, it is expensive, so make sure she stays indoors. Maybe you will be lucky and she'll just act extra loving and not yowl or spray (this happens, occasionally).
posted by jeather at 5:38 AM on September 1, 2011

Here is one resource for low cost spay and neuter services. If that one won't work for you, just google Low cost spay and neuter Florida (if your profile info is still current).
posted by jvilter at 6:16 AM on September 1, 2011

Please don't do low cost spay on a kitten in heat!!! The surgery is very often more complicated (the organs are larger and far more vascular) and it is not worth risking the cat's life to save some bucks! Most low cost spays are done assembly line style with little or no individual attention. Low cost clinics are geared toward preventing pregnancies, not the health of individual pets.

It is likely best for the cat for you to wait until the heat is over, since then things will shrink down to a smaller size and be less vascular and make the surgery easier all around. However, cats can get pregnant incredibly easily and if there is ANY chance of the cat coming into contact with a male cat (and do not underestimate how strong the drive to mate can be, they can and will find ways in and out of your house you had no idea existed), it is best to get her spayed asap by an experienced vet.
posted by biscotti at 8:10 AM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the advice, everyone! She miraculously went back to being completely and totally normal the next day, so I'm not sure what's going on, but the little brat has an appointment to be spayed on Tuesday, and has no way out of the house.
posted by kro at 11:23 AM on September 2, 2011

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