Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
My husband insists on pulling our 15-year-old tabby’s tail. He says he read that cats like this type of thing. There doesn’t seem to be any ill effect from his actions, but because our cat is a senior now and we love her so much and I feel this is a rather violent act, could you offer advice regarding the damage tail pulling can do, not to mention the emotional insult to the cat? My husband loves Pepi, treats her like a princess otherwise – however insists on his daily tail pulling exercise. HELP!
Siouxsie: Well, Katie, tail pulling is very high on our Not Recommended list. And here’s why.
Thomas: Let’s start out with a quick lesson on the anatomy of the cat’s spine, tail, and spinal cord.
Dahlia: A cat’s spine has more than 50 bones: seven cervical (neck) vertebrae, 13 thoracic (mid-back) vertebrae, seven lumbar (lower back) vertebrae, three sacral (hip) bones that fuse into one bone mass that connects to the cat’s tail, which has 21 to 23 bones.
Siouxsie: The spinal cord, the bundle of nerves that sends messages from the brain to the rest of the body, ends at the fifth lumbar vertebra.
Thomas: Nerves that control the back legs, tail, bladder, bowels, and other important functions, branch out from the end of the spinal cord. If these nerves are stretched too much, they can lose their ability to carry signals from the brain.
Dahlia: So, although some cats do enjoy having their tails gently tugged as part of their daily affection routine, hard tail pulling cat result in nerve trauma that leads to paralysis.
Siouxsie: That being said, in a younger adult cat you’d have to yank pretty hard to cause such injury. But as cats age, they start losing muscle mass around their hips, legs, and tail head (where the tail joins the body). Because of this, we’d think a senior cat would be much more likely to be hurt by a tail-tug that might have been fine when she was younger.
Thomas: Kittens, of course, should never have their tails pulled. They’re far too small and fragile for this kind of treatment and could be severely and permanently injured!
Dahlia: As cats age, many tend to develop arthritis; as a result, they may be sore around the hips and tail head, especially when they first get up from a nap. That’s part of the reason Siouxsie’s so grumpy all the time …
Siouxsie: My claws don’t bother me, and it would do you well to remember that, you little brat! Don’t you “Aunt Siouxsie, Aunt Siouxsie” me the next time you want a bedtime story! Besides, I get special treats that make my hips feel better, and you don’t! Humph.
Thomas: Anyway … tail pulling will probably make an arthritic cat’s pain worse.
Dahlia: Some cats enjoy having their tails gently stroked as part of a petting routine. I particularly love long, slow strokes from the top of my head to the end of my tail.
Siouxsie: Katie, you didn’t tell us how Pepi reacts when your husband pulls her tail. If she turns around and snaps at him, or if she growls or runs away when he’s done, that’s a pretty clear indication that she doesn’t like it or it bothers her.
Thomas: But even if Pepi doesn’t show obvious signs of distress, we strongly recommend against tail pulling on any cat, of any age.
Dahlia: Well, if you’re an animal chiropractor who specializes in working with cats, you can probably get away with it. But no lay person should ever pull a cat’s tail.
See you at BlogPaws…Disco and Brighton will be there!
My cat INSISTS I stroke his tell several times a day. He even wakes me up to try to make me do it. Everything I’ve read says they don’t like it And it’s driving me crazy that I can’t find out why he likes it so much. It feels like it’s a sexual thing for him bcuz the more I do it the more demanding he gets about it by walking back and forth fastet and faster, shoving his tail at me.
Hi I know that some cats hate haveing there tails pulled at all ,and a hard pull is never good ,but some love a strech, just as you might pull your ellbows back above your shoulders in the classic morning strech;here to too much would be a form of torture but just enough feels good.I am 60 years old and have done this all my life ,and those who like it love it,but from now on the cat will have to pull his own tail if there is a posablity of doing harm. Thanks R.
My wife, who thinks our cat Julie is almost people, read your blog and chastised me for hurting her baby by pulling her tail. I don’t actually pull her tail. Julie requires, no-demands, lots of attention. She loves having her tummy rubbed, and afterward she walks back and forth in front of my chair swishing her tail at me. So I stroke her tail and she continues to stick her tail up in the air to be petted. My wife cites your article and demands I stop hurting Julie. What do you think?
Hi Jim. There’s a big difference between pulling tails and stroking a raised tail. We like having our tails stroked, too. As long as you’re not yanking her or lifting her back end off the ground when you stroke her tail, there’s no problem at all. We hope this helps to settle the debate between you and your wife. Purrs!
That’s it! That’s exactly what my cat does! But this post Is 10 years old and no one will likely respond to me I may never know
Rosemary! I am here to the rescue XD My great grandmothers cat LOVES her tail to be pulled. She even likes her hind legs to be lifted a little off the ground. My great grandfather used to do this all the time to her. Since he has passed I don’t know how much my grandmother does it but when I visit i always make sure to give a little tug when petting her! Also I am in no means an expert but I don’t think your cat likes it for sexual pleasure I think its just nice!
My Female cats especially love it when I gently pull their tails.
It starts at the head as a scratch and continues down the body.
They dig in their claws both front and back and seem to really enjoy the stretch that Robert Hall talks about.
My cats typically reach and age of 20-23 years old.
And love having their tail pulled.
Just let them decide how far.
Our cat ,Bonnie , absolutely adores having her tail pulled. She DEMANDS IT !!!!!
Don’t pull hard. That’s key!
My cat LOVES her tail being pulled hard enough that her back legs come off the ground. In fact, when she wants it pulled, she’ll turn around and back up with her tail in the air and will wait like that until I pull her tail several times. If I don’t, or don’t do it hard enough, she’ll turn around and bat at my hand until I relent and give her what she wants. She lets me know when she’s had enough by walking away.
She asks for this every day. You’d think if she was being hurt she wouldn’t be asking for it daily, would she? I compare this to hanging upside down on monkeybars, or being on a massage table that has rollers that stretch your back by rolling up and down. GOD that feels good! My cat feels the SAME WAY.
Since SHE is a REAL expert and not some know-it-all who obviously knows NOTHING, I think I’ll take her word over yours.
Your cat may enjoy the tail pulled until back legs come off the floor, but then you may be the cause of your kitty’s pain later in life … She may like it, but it isn’t good for her… It’s just like humans. We like things that are bad for us… (alcohol, cigarettes drugs etc.) but just because we “love” it , and (as you said) demand it, they can drive us to pain and possibly, our graves.. Just like cats and any other animal speces.
Given the collection of nerves at the base of the tail that serve the urinary/genital/anal areas, it’s very possible that your cat has become addicted to some sort of sexual gratification derived from the tail pull, especially if she is offering herself to you in this way. In which case it’s possible over time for damage to be done to the nerves by overstretching them, even as she is enjoying it. Do you really want to increase her risk of poor bladder/anal control as she ages?
It is NOT a sexual thing – get your mind out of the gutter. My cat likes her tail being pulled because – GUESS WHAT – some cats LIKE IT.
She is now 14 years old and I’ve had her since she was 2. She is a VERY demonstrative cat and doesn’t take crap from anyone. SHE tells me what SHE wants and I give it to her. She’s never EVER had to go to a vet for ANY reason except her shots. She’s NEVER sick and I can count the number of times that she’s ever had diarrhea or thrown up on both hands during her 14 years.
It might be anecdotal, but there are several posts here and elsewhere that tells of cats who demand that their tails be pulled, while you have absolutely NO evidence whatsoever of my cat’s ill health or any other cat, for that matter, due to our paying attention to our cat’s wants and desires.
Again, I think I’ll listen to my own cat before listening to ignorant busybodies with perverted minds.
How do YOU know it’s not sexual. what are youuuuuu doing?
alguien k me ayude lo k pasa es que yo estaba jugando kon mi gatika y pues no se estábamos jugando con la kolita y de un momento a otro la gatika levanto su kolita y pues empeso a llorar y no se si de pronto le fracture la kolita y pues desde ese momento no a vuelto a levantar su kolita
Si su gato no puede levantar o mover la cola, el tiene que ver a un veterinario. Él pudo haber sido atropellado por un coche o ha tenido algún otro tipo de accidente. Él puede tener un hueso roto o daños a los ligamentos y los tendones. ¡Ronronea y besos a su gatito!
MY CAT LOVES FOR HIS TAIL TO BE PULLED, HE PULLS FROM ME, THEN COMES RIGHT BACK AROUND TO DO IT AGAIN…
I have 4 cats and they all love tail stroking. I don’t pull their tails. I let it slide through my fingers.
Well I have just got my Certificate in Animal Care and it certainly is not appropriate to pull a cat’s tail!!! What is wrong with some of you people even if the cat like’s it it is still wrong how would you like one of your limbs pulled until it became injured or broken!!
A lot of you people are weird!
Maybe you should pull his (front) tail as hard as he pulls your cats tail and see if he likes it. or you could lightly him by his front tail
my cat was injured tonight and she hurts by me touching her back . she has a couple of bite marks that are under her stomach, which I have treated those from recommendation by the vet. I have a appointment tom, but Is she going to have any permanent damage.I can feel a bone poking out of the bottom of left side of her back ? shes in alot of pain but cant get her to the vet tonight what do I do?
My cat has a broken (or injured) back (look picture) and she can’t move the back legs or tail , please tell me what to do :'( https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/97d2e69cd1b8631aec7ef04ab2770869961ad3fdcfc45e2451450d3455afcc06.jpg
Sigh, I learned about this too little too late, I suspect his back problems might’ve been caused by tail pulling and such when he was younger, he being my best little buddy, Shadow. A beautiful Bombay. Had him since around 2005 and continue to from now for a few more years at least I expect. But he has for a long time acted really strange when I pet and scratched his mid to lower back to the head of his tail, and seems to stand a little funny, but that’s partly due to him having gotten so fat too I believe, so it could be a combination of both. Weird thing is sometimes he seems to love it when I pet and scratch there, other times not so much.
Hah. I have a cat named Shadow too. Black short haired domestic cat. Active and fit but mean as hell. :(
my cat really loves to have his tail pulled *up* on, so I would be lifting his back side(keep in mind you his front paws never leave the ground and after the pop I release) and actually feel his tail pop like when you pull on a finger. After I pop his tail by pulling it up he gets that squinty happy face and starts purring a lot before going to one of his sleeping spots, he seems more relaxed then usual and takes a nap.
He keeps coming back wanting me to do it again but I don’t cooperate.
[please note this cat has no physical abnormalities.]
My 11 year old Bombay cat likes to be stroked just above her tails. Is this OK?
Looks like a good website, but that one name drives me nuts. Thanks for the help anyway.