Cat attacking its tail

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Teds Mum
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Cat attacking its tail

Post by Teds Mum »

Hi all,

I was Edwards on the old site and I hope you are all well.

I am posting with a question from my friend. Her young cat came home with some of her tail missing and they have no idea what happened. They live in a quiet cul-de-sac with no dogs around. She was operated on and has just had a second operation to remove some more of the tail. The issue is that she is attacking her tail very aggressively and the vet feels that even if they take it down to a stump, she won't stop this behaviour. She was a wonderfully affectionate cat and is now very unhappy and they are at their wit's end. I have suggested a comfy collar which she is going to buy and will give her some Zyklene. The vet did put the cat on Prozac but she is now off of this as it had no effect and just made her constipated and even more stressed.

Any ideas/experiences gratefully received.

best wishes,
Ted's mum
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Re: Cat attacking its tail

Post by Jacks »

Poor cat! It would sound to me like either there is some irritation which is driving her mad or (just trying to think outside the box) something problematic with her peripheral vision.

I would suggest to ask the vet if there is anything soothing (and not poisonous) which could be put on the tail - particularly if it's the area of the wound that is bothering her. Obviously a bandage is no good as she'd just rip it off. It could be that there has been some nerve damage in the tail, and that this is causing her grief. Wonder if there is any injection they could give to numb the area and see if it makes any difference? IF it does, then it's some form of irritation that's driving her crazy.

If it doesn't then it's not irritation and possibly she's seeing her tail moving but not associating it with herself? It could then be Feline Hyperesthesia (Google it, lots on it) and this COULD possibly explain how she came to lose the tip of the tail - i.e. that she attacked it herself... Poor little girl, I hope they can get something sorted out for her.
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Re: Cat attacking its tail

Post by lilynmitz »

This sounds terribly distressing for her, and for your friends to watch. I've heard of this with amputated limbs (and tails), where the brain still receives information from the nerve endings that would normally have terminated in the part that's been amputated. (There's a name for it but I can't remember what it is). So if those nerve endings are saying that there's pain or irritation in the amputated limb, you would want to rub it or scratch it, but it's not there any more. I seem to remember this is very difficult to address, which may be why the vet is saying that removal of the whole tail may have no effect, as the nerve is still damaged and receiving ghost messages from the missing limb/tail. Prozac and zylkene would make her chill out a bit more, but won't address the underlying nerve damage.
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Re: Cat attacking its tail

Post by Camdengirl »

I think what lilynmitz is thinking of is phantom limb syndrome, it's a kind of physical hallucination. Hops often tries to use his missing leg (particularly in the litter tray/when scrapping with Pip) although fortunately it doesn't seem to bother him. Phantom limb pain can be treated in humans but I'm guessing it's harder in cats as you can't send them for therapy. Although after only a few weeks it's quite possible the poor puss is still feeling some genuine pain in what is left of the tail, injuries to soft tissue can take months to heal fully, and perhaps once that settles down she will be less frantic over her tail. And nerve injuries can also settle over time, one of my friends is still experiencing changes relating to nerve damage she sustained nearly 18 months ago. The cat has almost certainly been through a traumatic incident too, which I am sure is a contributing factor. Fingers crossed that between a comfy collar, Feliway, Zylkene and time, things will improve.
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