Tails play an important role in your cat’s anatomy. The length of a cat’s tail depends mainly on its breed. Of course, there are other considerations, such as feline genetics, most notably the overall size of the animal.
A cat’s tail length is relative to its body length. However, there are some breeds that have longer tails. This includes the Maine Coon, Egyptian Mau, and Chartreux. Each breed uses its long tail for different functions. For example, the Maine Coon uses its tail to shield against cold climates, and the Chartreux uses it to enhance its hunting skills.
While a tail may be used for communication, it’s primarily used to help cats maintain their balance. If it has to shift its weight to one side, you will notice its tail flicking to the other side. Likewise, if a cat falls, it will use this technique to help land on its feet. By whipping its tail, it can throw its weight until it’s re-centered. With its feet facing down, it can properly land.
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Why Do Cats Have Long Tails?
If your cat has a longer tail, you may assume it’s a more capable animal. However, while there are advantages to a long tail, they’re not exclusive. For example, the Manx breed is known for having stubby tails. Despite this, a Manx is still as well-balanced as its long-tailed counterparts.
This is because cats don’t necessarily have long tails based on necessity. Instead, they develop their tails based on genetics.
In Mammalian Genome, scientists found a gene that is responsible for the short tails of Manx cats. Likewise, Scientific Reports also found a gene responsible for the short tails of Asian domestic cats. So, if your cat has a really long tail, or a short one, it is due to its bloodline.
What Is The Average Cat Tail Length?
The average tail for a male cat is 11 inches. For female cats, it is 9.9 inches. This length is mostly relative to its body.
If you ever bring your pet to a cat show, it will be judged according to its overall proportions. An American curl, for example, needs to have a tail that’s half its body length. Of course, not all cats are bred for show. In fact, most cats will have a tail that is very close to the full length of their body.
Cats are rarely purebreds. This further complicates the ‘proper’ tail lengths for each breed. Cats will often have genes that create kinked, curled, or bobbed tails. As such, predicting tail length is almost impossible.
What Cat Has The Longest Tail Ever?
The longest tail on a domestic cat ever recorded is 17.58 inches, according to the Guinness World Record. That’s a length greater than most people’s forearms. This record belongs to a silver Maine Coon named Cygnus Regulus Powers.
You’d imagine that longer tails mean better balance, but that’s not always the case. In fact, Cygnus’ owners reported a lot of tail-related mishaps. Most of these had to do with Cygnus’ tail dipping into things by accident.
Cat Breeds with Long Tails
The breed of a cat doesn’t always affect its tail length. For example, buying a Maine Coon kitten won’t guarantee you a pet with an extremely long tail. However, genetics do play a role. The average tail length will be greater with the right bloodlines.
The American shorthair is thought to be descended from European cats. The Cat Fancier’s Association ranks it as the seventh most popular pedigreed cat in America. Despite having short hair, you won’t find these cats brandishing short tails.
The American Shorthair’s tail is thick at the base, tapering off towards the end. Like most cat breeds, this cat’s tail is proportional to its overall body size. Because its size is relatively larger than most breeds, its tail length tends to be relatively longer, too.
Unlike most cats with this trait, however, the American Shorthair does not have a long body. Instead, it is known for its athletic, stocky build. To go along with that, it has a large and heavy frame. American Shorthair females weigh 8 to 12 lbs., while males weigh more than 12 lbs.
This thick body is mostly due to selective breeding. American Shorthairs were bred to control rat populations in the 1900s. As such, they were designed to be strong and healthy, able to withstand the outdoors.
The Balinese is known for its regal, graceful looks. Its coat looks more refined than other long-haired breeds and lacks a fluffy undercoat.
This coat is soft, silky, and medium in length. Its elegance is also heightened by the Balinese’s build, with strong and defined muscles. This is contrasted by its long, slender body and a fine bone structure.
The fancy qualities of its coat and build extend even to its tail. This breed’s tail is often extremely long, with a large plume of fur at the end. This plume, along with the cat’s belly, ears, and paws, is darker than the rest of its body.
The Chartreux is a rare French breed known for an interesting facial feature: a smile. Because of its head shape and the taper of its muzzle, the Chartreux always appears to be smiling. This smile is paired with a round face, which is then paired with a muscular body.
The Chartreux has a dark, elegant coloration. These cats are grey-blue in color, ranging from dark to lighter shades. The eyes vary between orange and gold. Because of its elegant looks, the weight of this cat may be surprising. The Chartreux are hefty at 6 to 9 lbs. for females and 10 to 14 lbs. for males.
The Chartreux is known to be an excellent hunter and traveling companion. These cats are mostly beloved for their stealth and quietness. In fact, most Chartreux rarely meow, and will instead purr and chirp. Lightning-fast reflexes also help them out in the field. Here, the cats’ trusted tails improve their balance and, therefore, their agility.
Cornish Rex is known to have an extroverted, almost dog-like personality. They are loud cats; affectionate, intelligent, and always ready to play. The Cornish loves to be handled and made the center of attention.
This loudness goes well with its need to be quick and agile. To achieve this, the Cornish Rex has a sleek and slender build. It has a long torso and slender legs. To keep this aerodynamic design, its back is arched and its belly curved. Topping all that off is the Cornish Rex’s long, lively tail.
All of this allows the Cornish Rex to dart in and out of spaces, and turn sharp corners.
The Egyptian Mau takes its name from the Egyptian word for cat. These cats can be easily identified because of the spots in their coat, which only appear in the tips of their fur. Aside from these spots, the Mau can also be identified by the rings on its tail. These rings increase in width until the tip is completely black. Known to be the fastest domestic cat breed, the Egyptian Mau’s patterned tail is essential for speed and agility.
The Mau is a compact, muscular cat with a medium-length body. With this sturdy build, you may think its dexterity is compromised. However, what this breed lacks in sleekness, it makes up for in grace. The Mau’s powerful muscles, paired with its long tail, allow it to move and turn very quickly.
On top of fast reflexes, this breed’s legs are also designed for speed. The Mau’s hind legs are longer than its front legs. A flap of skin is found between its flank and back knees, letting it stretch its legs much faster to run at greater speeds. This breed has been recorded to reach more than 30 mph.
The Mau’s tail makes this breed known for another interesting quirk: a ‘wiggle tail.’ This is where the Mau wiggles and twitches its tail to signify happiness. This behavior comes with what appears to be spraying behavior, although the Mau does not release urine while doing so. While resting, the Mau’s tail will lazily swish back and forth.
If you’ve ever seen a Maine Coon, you won’t be surprised to know this breed holds the record for longest cat tail. Aside from that, the Maine Coon is also known for its large body and gentle personality. For this reason, the Maine Coon is widely regarded as a gentle giant and a wonderful pet.
The Maine Coon has a distinctive ruff along its chest, with a rectangular body shape and a strong bone structure. This hefty build is made even heftier by its dense coat. The Maine Coon has a two-layered coat, made to look even thicker because of its unevenness. It also has long-guard hairs, with a silky undercoat. All of this allows the Maine Coon to survive in cold and harsh environments.
This adaptation extends to the Maine Coon’s tail. Like its coat, its tail also appears thick, due to the bushiness of the Coon’s fur. Its tail is very long, designed to offer protection in cold climates. In freezing weather, the Maine Coon can wrap its tail around its face and shoulders. This will reduce the amount of body heat lost, and shield the Maine Coon from cold air and snow.
The first Nebelungs were named Brunhilde and Siegfried, a queen and warrior in the Germanic saga, Nibelungen-Lied. The name of the breed comes from this saga, combined with the German word ‘nebel,’ which means ‘mist.’ Exuding an air of mystery at first glance, the name Nebelung is apt for this enigmatic-looking breed.
The Nebelung descended from the Russian Blue, which is apparent in the Nebelung’s blue-grey coats. Unlike the Russian Blue, the Nebelung has a shaggy, semi-long coat. Its eyes can range from green to yellowish-green. This dramatic coloration is paired with a long neck, body, and legs.
Because of the length of its body, the Nebelung understandably has a long tail. However, unlike most cat breeds, the Nebelung generally has a tail even longer than its body. Because of this, the cat breed is renowned for having some of the longest tails.
The Nebelung is a relatively new breed, only created in the 1980s. For this reason, there are very few of these cats found around the globe. Wherever the Nebelung exists, however, it continues to captivate owners’ attention with its tail length and interesting coloration.
The Scottish Fold takes its name from a mutation that affects its ears. Scottish Folds have ears that bend – or fold – forward. This results in the breed having a round-faced, even owl-like appearance.
This roundness continues with the rest of the Fold’s body. Its entire frame has a gentle curve with a rounded, padded look, and short legs. Most notably, the Scottish Fold’s tail is round, too. This makes the Scottish fold look soft, friendly, and approachable.
This breed is known to be good-natured and amicable pets. It can easily get along with other animals. In terms of human companionships, the Scottish Fold is one of the few cat breeds that can provide unbridled affection. It loves to spend time with their owners, grooming and playing with both animal and human friends.
At rest, the Fold is known to have a soft voice with unique vocalizations. These cats often sit in what is called the ‘Buddha position.’ This is when the Fold lies down, its belly flat, with legs and paws stretched out. Because of its stubby legs and round body, this position may be more comfortable than other cat positions.
Unfortunately, the Fold is susceptible to a few diseases. This includes degenerative joint disease, which affects the tail, ankles, and knees. This disease is characterized by the fusing of the affected areas, which leads to lameness, misshapen limbs, and a reluctance to move. This disease is believed to be linked to the same mutation that causes a fold in this breed’s ears. As such, animal rights activists are calling for a stop to the excessive breeding of the Scottish Fold.
For cat owners who participate in cat shows, it’s more important for the tail to be proportionate with the rest of the cat’s body. For the average owner, however, a cat’s tail length is a matter of aesthetic preference. Whether long or short, your cat will adapt to its own unique tail length as it ages. It won’t affect its ability to hunt or move.