cat is very sensitive to petting right side of rear near tail

by cat owner
(Clearwater FL)

Our 11 year old indoor house cat is very sensitive to petting near his right side from top of back to tail on the right side. He appears to be in pain irregardless of the lightness of the petting. Looks and walks ok, but his jumping ability is reduced. Any idea of problem?


You didn’t say how long this sensitivity has been happening but my first thought was that it was perhaps an injury from a fall. Your cat could have some bruising just like we get. However, your cat is 11 years old and he could be suffering from a case of osteoarthritis which is a bone disease that sometimes affects older cats and those with joint infections or injuries. The problem starts when the articular cartilage that cushions the joint breaks down and the bones in the joint begin rubbing against one another, leading to abnormal bone development and pain. This condition is typically treated with anti-inflammatory drugs or in severe cases, surgery.

Another possibility is a common injury that occurs when a cat's tail is pinched by a shutting door. The cat instinctively pulls away, often damaging the vertebrae at the root of its tail and injuring its spinal cord or "cauda equina" ...the multiple nerve fibers that exit the base of the spinal cord. This injury can even lead to tail paralysis but if the damage isn't extreme, the nerves may heal and regain function but the pain and sensitivity will exist for some time.

A bruised or torn muscle could also be caused by sudden stretching of the muscle fibers, overexertion from prolonged use, or a blow to the muscle. This could cause tenderness over the injured area. Extreme injuries would cause some lameness.

I would watch the situation with your cat carefully for a few days but if his condition gets worse or you don’t see any improvement then I recommend you take him to your veterinarian to make sure there isn’t something more serious happening.

Good luck with your cat and I hope it’s pain is resolved quickly.

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