Worst. Owner. Ever.
November 23, 2012 11:32 AM   Subscribe

How to know if I've messed up my cat's tail

I managed to roll over my cat's tail with my ultralight wheelchair, inflatable tires. She made a great yowling noise but is walking around now all normal-like in posture, but she is pacing from one end of the apartment to the other. Of course I feel terrible. So how do I know how badly she's hurt? Any ideas about avoiding cat squishing? Putting a collar on her with a bell?
posted by angrycat to Pets & Animals (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Oh dear!

I'm constantly tripping over my kitty.

Tails are very sensitive and important to a kitty, I think you should go to the vet.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:35 AM on November 23, 2012

I think it's time for a vet visit. Cats don't always show pain visibly, but if she's acting odd, it sounds like she might be hurting. For your kitty's sake, and your peace of mind, call the vet.
posted by snowleopard at 11:38 AM on November 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh shucks. She is likely in pain, but if the tail, not only the cat, moves cat-like, I don't think you need to be worried. You can watch it a bit, I guess. Tomorrow: slightly worse or the same, day after tomorrow: must be better.

I once stepped on the tail of ours - I'm a tall guy. No negative effects (but I'm still traumatized by the noise that made).
posted by Namlit at 11:39 AM on November 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think she'll be fine. I once wanted to see if it would hurt if my friend rolled over my hand with his wheelchair (adult male, inflatable tires on carpet) and it didn't hurt at all. I wonder if the cat was startled more than hurt.
posted by parakeetdog at 11:40 AM on November 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

Oh no! I know how upsetting it is to accidentally hurt your pet.

If she continues to act oddly I would at least check with the vet. You can call the regular office number and if they are closed, they will have instructions for who to call in an emergency. I would be worried that even if there's not much they could do treatment-wise, she needs some pain control at the very least.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 11:44 AM on November 23, 2012

Catch your cat and hold them and then squeeze each inch along the tail. Your cat will let you know if something really hurts.
posted by srboisvert at 11:45 AM on November 23, 2012 [7 favorites]

Wait till she chills and is in a state where you can pet her. Give her lots of sweet pets in the spots or manner she likes...and then when she's really relaxed start feeling along her tail. She'll let you know ASAP if there's something wrong.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:47 AM on November 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Your cat's tail has nerves that extend past the spinal cord. It should not be viewed like running over a human hand or just like accidentally stepping on kitty's tail. Trauma such as getting run over by a wheelchair can cause severe and painful injury. The vertebrae of her tail may have been damaged. Please, please immediately take her to a vet because the "hassle" is worth the potential "harm". If her tail is injured, she is suffering a lot of pain.
posted by loquat at 11:48 AM on November 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would agree with those who say "Take to vet," because that's what vets are for. In re your follow-up question:

Any ideas about avoiding cat squishing? Putting a collar on her with a bell?

I have a feeling that, injured or not, your cat will never put her tail anywhere near your wheelchair again.
posted by Etrigan at 11:54 AM on November 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

Hmm well moments ago I found her chillin in one of her usual spots, lying sort of ON her tail, I petted her and felt every part of her tail (and her four paws, in case I was wrong about the site of impact). She did her very usual lick/purr/soft-bite thing -- absolutely no freak out at all.

It might be worth mentioning that I didn't actually see the wheel go over her tail (because I was backing up) and she's been spooked into yowling by close calls before so -- this could be a case of cat panic but no impact? Will continue to watch closely -- thanks for the answers.
posted by angrycat at 11:58 AM on November 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

My guess is, yes, you likely did run over her tail. But also, that it sounds like she's fine. If you were able to run your fingers over her tail with slight pressure without further yowling, then it sounds like there wasn't any injury requiring a vet visit. Of course, IANAV, yadda yadda—but if it was my cat, I would say she's fine and not worry about it (unless you notice a cut or something lumpy on the tail, or if she keeps licking a specific spot in the next day or so). Because quite frankly, if there is no indication that it's broken and no lacerations, the vet isn't going to do anything other than tell you she's ok. :)

I'm also voting she'll be more vigilant about keeping her tail away from your wheels.
posted by Eicats at 12:13 PM on November 23, 2012 [4 favorites]

It now all hangs on the quality of the yowling. As I said, if you actually land on a cat's tail, you hear a sound that you remember for a darm long while. Like: you-drop-everything-you're-carrying loud, it sounds like an industrial electrical mishap of some seriousness.
Well, seems like you both got away.
posted by Namlit at 12:16 PM on November 23, 2012

Yeah, your cat is probably ok. If they were really hurt, they'd be hiding right now.

this might be the most awesomely eponysterical question ever.
posted by deadmessenger at 12:29 PM on November 23, 2012 [16 favorites]

I suspect that your cat is going to be just fine. I don't really understand the urge some mefites have to immediately take cats to the vet in response to things like this. I've had plenty of cats. I've mentioned here before that my mom was a crazy cat lady (and I'm well on my way). You'll know if she's really injured tomorrow if she hides, refuses food, or doesn't let you touch her tail. But in all likelihood she's just pissed at you.

If your kitty doesn't go outside, I would try a safety collar with bell in order to prevent future injuries to her pride or tail. Some cats really like jingling when they walk and some hate it. If she hates it, she'll pull the collar off. But if she goes outside, please don't bell her. That's just mean.
posted by dchrssyr at 12:53 PM on November 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

The cat in question, post-collision. She's looking at my wheels. Seems to be cool with the universe.
posted by angrycat at 2:26 PM on November 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Just checking in again for an update. Glad you were able to check her tail out. I'm still of the "take her to vet" mindset simply because not all cats go hiding when they're injured and felines are one of those animals that typically do not exhibit open signs of being hurt/injured.

Having a cat's tail run over by a wheelchair with an adult in it is a lot of weight on fragile bones. It frankly surprises me that the advice of taking a cat to the vet for that would be viewed as overreacting. If I still had my cats, I'd want the reassurance that there were no injuries that could potentially cause issues down the road or even chronic pain.

FWIW, I hurt a pinky toe on a stepping stone and my parents kind of streteched and examined it a bit, I was able to walk and carry on, but then that toe never did regain it's original position. It didn't require medical attention, but it healed up wrong.
posted by loquat at 2:45 PM on November 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

So far, after multiple tail feelings and the cat being chill, eating and sleeping and hanging out nearby, so good. Thanks for all the responses, and I will be super vigilant w/r/t things folks have said to watch for and will take her to the vet if they appear.
posted by angrycat at 4:43 PM on November 23, 2012

It sounds like she is fine.

My husband stepped on and injured our cat's tail a few months ago. We could tell it was injured because she stopped holding it high as she usually does, and she startled whenever we touched it. We took her to the vet and it turned out to just be bruised (and treated with some anti-inflammatory meds just in case). It was not at all difficult to tell that it was injured and this is just a bruise. So I'm guessing your cat is fine if you've done all the squeezing and touching and she's still acting normally.

(Of course it's possible that our kitty is a drama queen :) )
posted by lollusc at 4:55 PM on November 23, 2012

We've got lots of cats, and sometimes it's just a case of extreme "OMG, you almost KILLED me!!" reaction from kitty. Especially since, after things have calmed down, and you were able to touch and examine the possible injury without incident, I think the kitty is fine. Obviously, be aware of how it's behaving for a while, and if something doesn't look right, or you see kitty acting weird, call the vet. Some cats are such drama queens!
posted by LaBellaStella at 8:07 AM on November 24, 2012

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