Is the Stray Cat's Tail the Result of Injury or Genetics?

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Q: I recently noticed a friendly stray kitten that let me handle him and I am considering taking him in. He seems to be about 3 months old. He has a short tail, about half as long as a typical cat's tail. If it was severed it has healed. If he was born with the tail as it is, how can I tell whether it is the result of a potentially dangerous gene that could lead to medical issues or if it’s a bobtail-type gene which is harmless, to my understanding?

A: I’m not sure if there are any genetic tests to determine whether this cat comes from any particular breed lineage. Two things make me think that this cat’s short tail is more likely a result of a kittenhood injury: First, this kitten is a stray, and it’s not likely that a valuable, purebred Manx or American (or Japanese) Bobtail is roaming around the streets. Secondly, you describe the tail as being half as long as a typical cat’s tail. The bobtails and the Manx have tails that are shorter than you describe.

He sounds like a nice cat. Take him home!

Dr. Arnold Plotnick, DVM

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Is the Stray Cat's Tail the Result of Injury or Genetics?

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Reader Comments

lovelyone    International

12/16/2013 9:52:44 PM

First time hveing a cat with a half of tail

Kim casola    Holmdel, NJ

3/1/2013 6:01:52 PM

Wrong we have two ferals that we adopted, we new them since birth, one has a very stub tail about an inch, and the other has half a tail. Neithsr were injuries.Their mom looks like a regular cat. Also both kittens are tiny and have a higher back end

D.    Portsmouth, OH

5/16/2012 11:56:43 AM

I, also, have a stray with a 1 inch tail. We thought that she had been mistreated by someone, but she had kittens and one was born with a half-tail pigtail and one with no tail, three normal. I got to looking real good at her tail and realized that her hair grows in everywhere. No scar end. So, if your cat has hair that grows in everywhere, I would say it was probably born that way. I don't think hair grows in scar tissue.

Deb    Sparks, MD

9/15/2011 4:58:57 AM

Some purebred cats do become strays. I have a Manx and a Japanese Bobtail, both were homeless. Manx kittens can be born with different length tails, some as long as 4 inches or so. Typically, breeders usually have the longer tail docked.

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