A Tail Tale

You’ve no real idea of how much of a time a cat’s tail is up until it’s down.

You might guess, oh 50% or 60% of the time but actually, unless it’s a Manx or sleeping, a cat’s tail is up close on 100% of the time.

It’s raised like a flagstaff, or swishing aggressively, or held high and hooked at the tip – the Happy Cat Hook.

Even when sleeping, Fat Lily’s tail followed the curve of her bottom and tucked in nicely somewhere by her paws…… but no longer. The tail takes an unexpected right turn and lies flat and straight as though arranged by a funeral director.

Somehow, somewhere she has been involved in a feline fracas and some big bully has bitten her tail nastily.  I hadn’t noticed the bite but fortunately, the vet is experienced in cats and tails of dodgy do’s and has given her a shot of antibiotics. He expects me to follow on with a course of tablets.

The tail may recover, or not.  We’ll have to wait and see but it makes be incredibly sad.

But it’s the weirdest thing when your cat is injured.  Like many other misleading or downright mistaken things people have told me about cats, the general impression you get is that cats, with their 9 lives, are virtually indestructible.

When the reality of their frailty becomes obvious, it’s a bit of a shock, although Fat Lily has never been what I’d call a very *capable* cat.  Yes she retrieves like a dog and greets me with a “Ay-oh”  – that’s ‘hello’ in Fat Lily-speak but she’s never been very agile or nimble as cats are supposed to be.

Making her flat-footed way through life, runty in stature with all those extra toe4s, she seems less able to cope than most cats and her co-ordination is not the best.

She regards the prospect of a leap to the windowsill for several seconds in a calculating way before attempting it. She might make it but occasionally she fails and walks away as if she wasn’t much interested in the first place.

In the summer she got into the habit of climbing a bush and walking up a roof to enter the house through the open study window but descending was a different prospect. She’d mew piteously from the roof as though she was stuck. My gentle encouragement “For God’s sake, get down, Lily!” ended with her leaping into the bush but losing her footing and ending up in a small furry heap in the ivy.

While she’ll hiss if big brother Leo tries to swipe her with a lazy paw, she’s not aggressive either and has been bullied by the black and white cat from across the road. He comes on to our terrace and lies in wait for her out of sight to one side of our security cat flap.  It means she looks anxiously through the flap for some time before she makes a hasty exit, streaking for the cover of the euonymous.

I reckon, without any evidence whatsoever, that it was him who finally waylaid poor Fat Lily and sunk his horrid teeth into her, disabling her fluffy, expressive tail.

The tail is still droopy and following her in a trailing-along type way but today I thought she might have a little life back in the very tip of it.

I have to start giving her the tablets on Tuesday. I’ll need a bit of luck and any cat-tablet-dosing tips are very welcome!

Tuesday Update:  She doesn’t like fat juicy prawns..not does she like the aply named “Lily’s Dinner” which is a very small amount of pate-like catfood.  She thought it was highly suspicious that I wanted to give her dinner in the living room with the door shut.  So did Leo, who was mewing on the other side of the door.  So after wasting one ground-up tablet, I popped one into her mouth and stroked her throat until I thought it might be gone – and it was!

I don’t think I’ll get away with that a second time, but you never know… 😉

Weds Update:  Tail is up again!  Hurrah!   Lily didn’t want to open her mouth for the tablet this time but then she did, tablet in and she gulped!  A miracle, I tell ye!  🙂


About janh1

Part-time hedonist.
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22 Responses to A Tail Tale

  1. John Gamblin says:

    Do hope she gets better soon Jan. They soon become part of the family and you can’t help worrying when they’re troubled. I have so loved all my cats – something about their independent air I think. Keep us up to date with progress 😉

  2. Darrel Kirby says:

    I think the whole graceful feline stereotype is a myth – our cat, Scud, usually sounds like he has hob-nail boots on when he jumps from the windowsill and it gives him away when he jumps from the bed where he is not supposed to be. He too has had his graceful lines battered by numerous scraps: his tail is kinked and his ears are tattered: it really is a tough life being a cat sometimes.
    I hope the tail recovers – cats seem to be fairly resilient and, even if not, they seem to adapt quickly to their new state.

    • janh1 says:

      Scud! Love it. Guided missile cat. Yes! They sound much heavier than they actually *are*! But who knew a cat bite could be soo nasty?!

      You’re right about adapting… I’m going around moaning “poor Lily” and she’s snoozing solidily on the bed having been bestowed special “bed rest” rights. 😉

  3. janh1 says:

    Thanks v much, G. I wouldn’t keep mine imprisoned as house cats but now I see why some people do. My fingers and toes are crossed that she keeps her tail, poor mite! 🙂

  4. IsobelandCat says:

    Poor Lily. A cat’s tail is indeed a wonderful thing. Nothing quite like seeing it go from down to high flag when you get home.
    A young fox took an exploratory bite of a cat’s tail down the road. She had to have it amputated.
    As for tablets. If they are the red antibiotics Cat used to get, I could crush them and serve them with prawns and he would eat the lot. MasterB’s recent course of penicillin had to administered by opening his mouth and popping them down his throat, then holding his head down so that he swallowed. Fortunately he is very good about pills and only one ended up on the carpet. Cat need three people to administer pills in this way.

    • janh1 says:

      Hi Isobel – really grateful for the pill advice, thank you. 🙂 I haven’t looked at them yet but Lily’s never had prawns so the combination might be irresistible!

      Hmm, what a difference between Cat and Master B! I’ve no idea how Lily will react but I’m going to try the Prawn Cocktail Method first! Thanks! 🙂

      • IsobelandCat says:

        MasterB isn’t interested in prawns, so check that Lily likes them first. I used to get the bags of frozen ones from Iceland. The nose down is the best bit of advice I received. I had been holding his head up and stroking his throat, but this is much more effective.

  5. janh1 says:

    Yes, that’s exactly how I used to get my dogs to swallow pills – until I discovered it was far better to hide them in a slice of Mars bar… I’ll go with nose down. I haven’t got any prawns so I’ll try some. She’s picky about fish. Likes salmon, not so fussy on sardines. Typical! 🙂

  6. I hope her tail recovers soon. Mackenzie broke his tail somehow and I remember the worry.

    Good luck with the pills!

  7. janh1 says:

    Thanks Sophie. 🙂 It was looking a bit more lively last night so I am living in hope!! I’m just so glad I took her to the vet and he spotted the bite – because I hadn’t. The antibiotics seem to be working – now it’s just a question of The Pills tomorrow night! ;-/

  8. Tomcat Fightback has just lolloped into the room with his tail up as I read this – hope she is fine soon!

  9. Pseu says:

    Pick up cat and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as if holding a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of cat’s mouth and apply gentle pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand. As cat opens mouth pop pill into mouth. Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.

    Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa. Cradle cat in left arm and repeat process.

    Retrieve cat from bedroom and throw soggy pill away.

    Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm holding rear paws tightly with left hand. Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of 10.

    Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of wardrobe. Call spouse from garden.

    Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, hold front and rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get spouse to hold head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat’s throat vigorously.

    Retrieve cat from curtain rail, get another pill from foil wrap. Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep shattered figurines and vases from hearth and set to one side for glueing later.

    Wrap cat in large towel and get spouse to lie on cat with head just visible from below armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force mouth open with pencil and blow down drinking straw.

    Check label to make sure pill not harmful to humans, drink glass of water to take taste away. Apply Band Aid to spouse’s forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap.

    Retrieve cat from neighbour’s shed. Get another pill. Place cat in cupboard and close door onto neck to leave head showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon. Flick pill down throat with elastic band.

    Fetch screwdriver from garage and put cupboard door back on hinges. Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for date of last tetanus jab. Throw away T-shirt and fetch new one from bedroom.

    Ring Fire Brigade to retrieve cat from tree across road. Apologise to neighbour who crashed into fence while swerving to miss cat. Take last pill from foil wrap.

    Tie cat’s front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining table. Find heavy duty pruning gloves from shed. Push pill into mouth followed by large piece of fillet steak. Hold head vertically and pour 2 pints of water down throat to wash pill down.

    Get spouse to drive you to Casualty, sit quietly while doctor stitches finger and forearm and removes remnants of pill from right eye. Call furniture shop on way home to order new table.

    Call RSPCA to collect cat and ring pet shop to see if they have any hamsters.

  10. Poor Fat Lily. A limp tail is no joke. I do hope she is better soon, Jan, and able to negotiate life with her customary poise and balance.

    • janh1 says:

      Aw thanks, Kate. In fact she is fine now, and I sent a “thank you” card to the vet yesterday telling him so.
      If I can get a decent pic, I’ll post it. 🙂

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