Nothing is quite as wonderful as walking into your home at the end of a long day and being greeted by your cats, cooing their happiness, tails held high as if to say “welcome back! we miss you so much!” !” But your cat’s tail does so much more than help you understand how it feels. Read on for some interesting facts about a cat’s tail and what it does.
First, let’s start with a short anatomy lesson. a cat’s tail has 19 to 23 vertebrae, about 10 percent of the total number of bones in its body. an extensive group of muscles, ligaments, and tendons hold the tail together and provide its amazing mobility. the average length of a cat’s tail is 11 inches for a male and 9.9 inches for a female.
1. the cat’s tail is a balancing tool
The cat’s tail acts as a counterweight when the cat walks on narrow surfaces like the top of a fence or the back of a chair. it also helps a running cat stay on its feet as it makes sharp turns in search of prey… or a favorite toy.
2. it is also a communication aid
Cats communicate primarily through body language, and the cat’s tail is one of the most important parts of your cat’s communication toolbox. by understanding the “language of the tail”, you can understand how your cat is feeling with just one look.
A happy cat, for example, walks with its tail held high, and a super happy cat will add a quiver to the tip of its tail to show its joy. A slightly upset cat will wag the tip of his tail, but if he wags his tail from side to side, you’d better stay away, because the claws are about to come out. A cat concentrating on prey will have its tail close to the ground, although there may be a slight twitch at the end as it tries to control its excitement.
3. cat tail injuries can cause permanent damage
Although the spinal cord doesn’t reach all the way to the cat’s tail, injury can cause serious nerve damage. When the spinal cord ends, the nerves that help control and provide sensation to the tail, hind legs, bladder, large intestine, and anus have to extend outward without the protection of the spinal bones. Pulling on your cat’s tail can overstretch or even tear these nerves and cause a temporary (or permanent) inability to walk, inability to hold the tail up, incontinence, or chronic pain.
4. cats can live without a tail
A cat whose tail is amputated due to injury learns to compensate for the loss quite easily. Manx cats are born without tails, and I have never heard of any reports of excessive clumsiness in these breeds.
5. not all tailless cats have the same tailless gene
The gene that produces the unique tailless appearance of the Manx is dominant, meaning it is automatically expressed even with only one copy of the gene. being homozygous for (having two copies of) the tailless gene is semi-lethal, and kittens with two tailless genes usually miscarry, so tailless Manx cats are bred from one tailless parent and one tailed parent. But even having just one copy of the gene can cause a condition called Manx syndrome, which includes spina bifida, fused vertebrae, and bowel or bladder problems. the gene that causes the kinky, curly tail of the Japanese bobtail, on the other hand, is recessive (a cat needs to have two copies of that gene for the trait to be expressed) and does not have the same potential for health problems as the manx gene