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Cat's tail fell off.

Species: Cat
Breed: Siamese x Ginger
Age: 5-8 years
My cat is a male, seven year old, siamese crossed with ginger named Skittles. Around two months ago, he came home and his tale looked as if it had been skinned, there was fur missing and a sextion was swelled up and raw red, due to having no money we had to leave the poor thing as it was, the tale started to turn a darkish, black colour and he wouldn't leave the red bit alone.

We called the vet and they said that his tale was dead and that it would have to be amputated at the estimated cost of $500-$600, we don't have that money so had to leave it even longer. A week or two more passed and I was helping my mother clean it, what we thought were leaves attached to the sore was actually his skin folded back. We tried bandaging it but Skittles would just remove it, so we left it, and would clean it everyday with water and this pet ear and wound cleaner for cats and dogs you can get from the supermarket.

However yesterday he came inside and his tail was gone, there is a couple inches of fur covered tail and then a couple more inches of sore(which is now the end of his tail). The bit that was all dark is now gone! We don't know if he bit it off or it fell off, but its gone now.

We put a parassim gauze dressing on it thats a sterile dressing for cuts and wounds, meant for people but its all we have, then on top of that we put a large bandaid thing. Its covered up now, as we don't want him licking it and making it worse, plus all sorts of dirt keeps getting on it.

We can't afford the vet fee's right now and need to know if we're doing the right thing for Skittles, he seems completely fine with it and he hasn't tried to get this bandaid off yet but we don't know how long that will last. Does he need to see a vet now? Did his tail just drop off?

And what can we do to make sure it gets better?

Thanks so much,

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh, poor Skittles. It sounds like he has been through a lot!

I have had several cases where a cat's tail fell off. In one case, the cat had no symptoms whatsoever of problems. The owner came home one day, opened her front door and lo and behold, there was a tail waiting for her. The cat was totally fine and it was a complete mystery as to why it came off.

In Skittles case, we know that the tail was severely damaged. What you are describing with the skin dying off sounds like the tail was undergoing something called necrosis. This is where the blood supply to the tail is damaged and basically the tissue just dies. Unfortunately it probably was quite a painful process for him. He probably feels better now that it is off.

My main concern though is that he is probably dealing with infection. If there is a wound there still, or any sort of open, red area then he really really does need to see a vet. It should be less expensive now that he doesn't need amputation surgery. But most likely he will need some antibiotics. For something like this it is unlikely that a cream or topical antibiotic is going to work. Most likely the vet will need to prescribe an oral antibiotic to give him. They may also prescribe some pain reliever if they feel this is still an issue for him.

It's really hard for me to advise you on what you can do at home. I think if there is any way at all for you to get him in to a vet that really is the best thing. Now, if you said that he had no wound at all, no redness, wasn't trying to get at it and was eating really well then I would say that you could just see how things go. But otherwise, a vet visit is best. If we wait too long and there is infection it could end up affecting his spinal cord and he could get a nasty meningitis or even a blood borne infection which could be fatal.

I really hope he feels better soon!

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.