As long as your touch is light, you can gently pull and you can be playful along with their tail, to groom them for any loose furs. If they can pull their own tail free without moving/shifting the rest of their body, they will be fine.
But then why is there a concern, holding your cat by its tail? Why is it a big issue anyway?
You should never hold your cat by its tail. The tail of a cat contains muscles, skin, fat, and an extension of the spine. Several vertebrae are located in the tail, running all the way from the cat back down to the tip of the tail.
Several nerves are contained in their tail making them sensitive if you’ve ever tugged or grabbed their tail tightly, they can be reactive and a little feisty or can be ticklish. The nerves help to move their tail.
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6 Facts You Should Know Before Holding Your Cat’s Tail
Here are 6 facts you should know about your cat’s tail and why holding your cat’s tail matters.
1. Your Cat’s Tail Helps Them To Balance
The tail of a cat is an extension of the body which helps to counter-balance them when they walk on narrow spaces such as fences, shelves, or branches of a tree.
They also add balance when a cat is running after or jumping on its prey.
2. Your Cat Use Their Tail To Communicate
As with most animals, cats communicate mostly through their body language. The tail is a great indicator of your cat’s mood. The movement and reaction express their mood and intentions.
i.e. While sleeping, your cat’s tail looks relaxed and when you pet its tail your cat either does not mind getting touched by their tail and moves it slowly or wouldn’t care to move at all because of its relaxation and close to tucking it within themselves.
Also sometimes when your cat gets angry his/her tail stands up straight in the air and his/her fur acts like having intense goosebumps similar to human beings.
3. They Spread Their Pheromone Through The Tail
When cats put their tail in the air around other cats, they spread their scent.
It can be an invitation for the other cat to smell them for their sexual activity. It is a pretty important step to initiate the reproduction process.
4. If You Tug Your Cat By His/Her Tail It Could Break A Vertebrae
If you’re trying to grab, grab an unsteady, an escaping, or maybe stopping a cat fight by grabbing their tail to break them off from fighting, it is the fastest way to injure them.
It’s the part of his/her spine that you can do serious damage. Their tail or closer to their hips or lumbar spine could break or may suffer from strain on their whole spinal cord.
Lifting them by their tail will seriously hurt them, their tails are not meant to be suspended by their body weight, even with a tiny cat and kitten.
If your cat is all more sensitive to touch in that area of the tail or gets upset when you pet too low of his/her back now, if it seems a little swell or hang limply like it is painful, then you may have injured him/her a little.
Get them to a vet to x-ray and make sure you didn’t separate any vertebrae or pinch a nerve. Accidents happen, you just have to make sure that you don’t do it again, or else his/her trust will be broken and he/she will act cold towards you.
5. Can Cause An Injury Or Even Paralysis
Severing the connection within the tail to the rest of the body means that the brain cannot send signals through the tail to the rest of the body.
Tail injuries can cause some permanent damage.
The tail has some main controlling nerves that can affect the tail’s muscles as well as their control of urination and bowel movement. Pulling on the tail can cause nerve damage. Nerve damage may heal over time, but can often be permanent.
Cats that have experienced broken tails are most likely to suffer from paralysis in the tail, back legs, or rear paralysis and sometimes even affect the bowel movement, which means as a pet parent or as a vet doctor, has to manually help your cat with excreting and urinating every day.
6. A Specific Breed Of Cat Can Live Without Tails
Even though it is important that cats are used to being balanced with the help of their tail, if a cat’s tail needs to be amputated due to severe injury which can risk the cat’s life by the chance of getting an infection, the cat will soon learn to compensate for the loss of their tail.
In fact, Manx cats are one of the specific breeds that were specifically known to be born without a tail and are not any less active than their tailed pals.
breeding a Manx cat:
The tailless gene is dominant but it needs a recessive tail gene. When breeding a Manx cat, breeders will breed a tailless cat with a tailed cat.
Having two copies of the tailless cat bred with another tailless cat, the fetus is often spontaneously aborted. In fact, many Manx cats will have a medical condition coined “Manx Syndrome”.
There are some possible symptoms that may show which include spina bifida(a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don’t form properly, the neural tube which forms the spinal cord fails, to varying degrees, to close, and the vertebral arches also fail to form completely.), fused vertebrae, and bowel or bladder problems.
A Bonus Fact:
7. The Domestic Cats Hold Its Tail Vertical
It is a very noticeable feature in every breed of domestic cats and they are the only feline to hold their tail in a vertical position in the air high up figuring like a question mark while walking.
On the other hand, wild cats hold their tail horizontally or tucked between their legs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it safe for cats to play with each other’s tails?
If your cat is well bonded with another cat and has a good relationship then you can let them play with each other by their tails. However, if another cat doesn’t like your cat or is a threat to your cat then watch out! The other cat can hurt your cat if they fight.
Why does a cat hisses you when you grab its tail?
The tail of any animal is a long extended spine and dozens of nerves are there starting from the spinal cord to the tip of the tail, to make them move, sense, and other voluntary movements their bowel and peeing entirely depend on their tail. However, if your cat hisses for touching its tail, it is because maybe they’re indicating to warn you by their hiss to protect their tail from any harm. Some may not hiss and it is because maybe they trust you enough that you won’t harm them.
Why do cats wiggle their tail rapidly sometimes?
Cats show their mood and communicate with their body language as I mentioned in this article earlier, the movement and reaction of their tail show their emotion. You have to be very observative in what situation they are wiggling their tail. The most common reason for wagging their tail is happiness, excitement, and anger. Other than looking at their tail you have to look at their entire body language and what kind of sound they make at that time, you have to understand what they’re actually trying to say.
Why do cats lick their tail frequently?
It is a part of their entire grooming process. It might be linked to maintaining their general hygiene to keep themselves clean every time. They lick their tail most likely after they are done with their bowel movement, urination, or both. Also, they may lick their tail to get rid of dirt, ticks, or fleas. If that is the case with ticks and fleas then ask your vet for medical advice.
Is it safe for children to play with your cat? Especially with their tail?
It depends on the children and how much they know about cats. You have to make sure to alert them about cat facts and warn them about the consequences of tugging a cat’s tail hard to the children who come into contact with your cat. Awareness of them will help them to improve their relationship with cats and with every other animal.
Always remember that even if you’re being playful, never get into any temptation and pull your cat’s tail hard.
A well-intention or not, grabbing your cat’s tail could cause a world of misery and pain, so be careful, be a responsible pet parent, be cautious if there are any medical emergencies happening to your cat, and leave your kitty’s tail be all wiggly in happiness.