Cats—we all want to know a million things about them…what breeds like to swim, which breeds are great with kids, and so on. But one thing we often wonder about is cat breeds with long tails. Sure, all cats have tails, most of them long, but have you ever wondered what breeds have the longest tails in the cat world?
Maybe you want to know which breeds have the longest tails so we can help you choose your next companion. Or maybe you are as curious as a cat. Whatever the reason, we will shed light on the question of which breeds have the longest tails. Not only will you finish this article with that knowledge, but you’ll also have an idea of where to start looking for your next long-tailed companion.
While we can’t list all of the cat breeds with long tails in this article, we are taking the time to look at 6 breeds known for their exceptionally long tails. We will go over the anatomy of the tail, as well as a snapshot of each breed before looking at how those tails function. So let’s get started and follow that tail through the wonderful world of cats.
Understanding a Cat’s Tail
The cat’s long tail is truly a marvel. It is one of the most mobile structures in the cat’s body and can move in almost every direction, often in complete opposite positions from each part. The reason for this motility is because a cat’s tail contains 10% of all the bones in the cat’s body.
In fact, 20 vertebrae make up the average tail, which is usually 11 inches for males and 9.9 inches for females. The vertebrae are supple and articulated, which makes it possible for the cat to move various segments of the tail freely. They are enclosed by six muscles and a large number of tendons, each one fitting into the next vertebrae as they move down the tail.
The ligaments and tendons are also aided by four to five nerves that give added mobility and sensitivity to the tail. It’s an amazing appendage, don’t you think?
6 Cat Breeds with the Longest Tails
While it’s interesting to know the facts of a cat’s tail, what you really want to know about is what breeds have the longest tails. We are going to look at the six breeds known for having some of the longest tails in the world.
#1: Maine Coon
When it comes to cats with long tails, you will find that the Maine Coon is the breed with one of the longest. In fact, the current Guinness World Record holder for the longest tail is a Maine Coon named Cygnus Regulus Powers.
At the time of beating the record, Cygnus had a tail that measured 17.58 inches long. It’s even longer now, having reached an impressive 24 inches in length.
While Cygnus is the record holder, most Maine Coons have an impressively long tail. The breed is considered one of the largest breeds of domesticated cats and has the distinction of being the only long-haired breed developed in the United States.
Despite being impressively large, with a heavily boned and muscular body, the Maine Coon is a gentle giant. Originally bred for clearing homes and barns of rodents, this hunter is known for their calm and affectionate nature.
In fact, the Maine Coon is a very sweet-tempered cat that loves being around their family. In addition, they are very adaptable and make excellent companions. However, make sure you always check that doorways are clear before you close them since that long tail can get caught quite easily.
#2: Egyptian Mau
Looking for a breed that will look down at you all the time? Then the Egyptian Mau is the breed to get. They look down at you in the literal sense since this breed loves to be up high. In fact, the sleek and athletic Egyptian Mau is one of the best jumpers and climbers in the cat world.
And they love to drape their extra long tail over the edges of bookshelves, refrigerators, and any other furniture that they can perch atop. But while they do enjoy height, these short-haired, muscular cats also love being with their owners.
In fact, they enjoy spending lots of time playing with their family, and they love to be groomed, which makes caring for them very easy. While they are very active, this long-tailed breed is praised for their beauty, balanced temperament, and of course, that long tail.
#3: American Shorthair
If you are looking for a breed that is not quite as large as a Maine Coon, or has as much hair, then you definitely want to look at the American Shorthair. Known for being another breed developed in the United States, the American Shorthair is a medium-sized breed that is heavily muscled.
In fact, this cat is a powerful cat that is often quite heavier than they seem when you pick them up. The breed has a thick, short coat. And like the Maine Coon, this cat is an expert hunter.
These fierce cats with long tails are actually quite even-tempered. They are a wonderful family cat and will often enjoy the company of everyone in their family. In addition, they are quite playful, but the American Shorthair doesn’t need constant attention from people—making this breed very easy going.
#4: Siberian Cat
Another long-haired, giant breed, the Siberian Cat is a large cat with a long coat and even longer tail. They were developed in Siberia and are still somewhat unknown in North America; however, they are gaining popularity.
This is due to the warm heart of the breed that proves to owners just how wonderful they are. If you are looking for an affectionate cat that is velcroed to your side, then this is the cat for you. In fact, the Siberian Cat will spend all of their time sitting with you…or on you.
In addition to being affectionate, this cat breed is actually quite playful. They were prized as hunters in their homeland, and they still have that hunting instinct. They are very active and will often find anything to play with.
These cats also love water and will be happy to swim…even getting that long tail wet. So you will definitely be delighted by the versatility and personality of this breed.
Most people haven’t heard of the Nebelung, but with its gaining popularity, that is sure to change. Often mistaken for a long-haired Russian Blue, the Nebelung is very similar in appearance to one, despite being a different breed.
This is an athletic breed that has an exquisite shiny blue, medium length coat and green eyes. And the breed has a long feathered tail that is as impressive as their stature.
At home, the Nebelung is an affectionate breed that loves their family fiercely. The breed often bonds with one human in the house and will be devoted to them for their entire lives. However, don’t confuse their loyalty for being aloof with others. They love everyone in their house and are often a playful and polite companion for everyone.
The final long-tailed cat on our list is the Balinese. This is a rare breed that is distinguished by their long, tubular body and their even longer tail. They are very similar in appearance to a Siamese; however, the breed has a medium length coat that is soft and silky.
Another breed that loves to be up high, the Balinese will drape that long tail over any furniture that is tall enough for them to climb up onto. In fact, the Balinese loves heights so much that cat perches are a must if you are to own this beautiful cat.
Personality wise, the Balinese is a very active cat that has a temperament very similar to their Siamese relatives. In addition, this is a vocal cat that does enjoy letting you know exactly what their needs are. And usually, that is simply to get some attention from you since they love being with their owners.
What is the Function of a Cat’s Tail?
Before we close this article on cats with long tails, we wanted to take some time to look at the overall function of a cat’s tail in general and long tails specifically. Most of us know the basics of how a cat uses their tail. We know that it is important in both movement and communication. But did you know the ins and outs of those functions?
First, one of the primary uses of the long tail is for balance. This helps in movement and also when they are moving through narrow or tight spaces. What is interesting is that cat tails are used as a counterbalance. This allows them to adjust the tail so they can walk on, or through, the smallest of spaces.
It also helps them maintain balance when they are hunting and is important when it comes to leaping and running.
Second, the tail is used for judging distances. This is often seen when a cat is flipping the tail side to side, which gives them a sense of how wide a space is around them. The tail serves as an important sense for spatial awareness and is relied upon as much as a cat relies upon their other senses.
Third, cats with long tails will often use their tail for warmth by curling it around their body.
Finally, cats use their tails to communicate their emotions, and it is important for every cat owner to understand what that tail is saying.
Movements that Illustrate Your Cat’s Mood
Since we are talking about cats with long tails, it is only appropriate that we really discuss what that long tail is saying. While we can’t list all of the different things a cat is saying with their tail, let’s look at some of the more common communications your cat is making with you.
#1: Held Erect
If your cat is holding their tail up and fully straight, they are simply saying hello to you. This movement is used for both humans and other animals that the cat is friendly with. Know that your cat is happy to see you.
#2: Tucked Between Legs
This is not a wonderful mood to see in your cat. It means that they are feeling defeated and are showing complete submissiveness. Your cat is not happy, and you should try to boost their mood.
#3: Curved Gently But Up at the Tip
This means that your cat is relaxed and happy. This is often a great time to give them some affection as they will be happy to receive it.
#4: Puffed Up
We all know what it means when a cat’s tail is puffed up. They are agitated and, often, afraid. Check their surroundings to see what is causing their agitation or fear.
#5: Swishing Side to Side
This is used for one of two reasons: hunting, which can be seen during play, or when your cat is angry. If your cat isn’t hunting, you should try to figure out what is agitating or making your cat angry.
#6: Raised and Slightly Curled
When your cat’s tail is raised and slightly curled, it is a sign that they are interested in something.
#7: Question Mark Curl
This is a signal to you that your cat is ready to play. Now is the time to stop what you are doing and have some fun with your feline friend.
#8: Low But Not Tucked
When your cat’s tail is low but not tucked underneath, it means that your cat is in a serious mood. It can also mean that your cat is being aggressive. Watch other body signals to determine if that it is the case. It should be noted that some breeds just carry their tails low and for that breed, such as a Persian, that is not a sign of aggression.
#9: Whipping Back and Forth
When your cat is whipping their tail back and forth very quickly, it is a sign that they are extremely agitated. This agitation could be caused by fear or anger and is commonly seen when a cat is being aggressive.
#10: Wrapped Around You
Finally, if your cat wraps their tail around you, consider yourself very lucky. They are being friendly and letting you know that they love and trust you.
Caring for Your Cat’s Long Tail
While there isn’t too much you have to do to care for your cat’s long tail, it is important to be very aware of that tail. The longer the tail is, the easier it is to injure the tail by closing doors on it or stepping on it.
However, even if you are taking the best care of avoiding accidents, a long tail can present some challenges for an average cat owner. With that in mind, always make sure you take the time to check your cat’s tail on a weekly basis. Look for any sores or odd angles in the tail. If you suspect a break, take your cat to the vet immediately.
If we catch the signs of health problems early, we can prevent serious complications including your cat losing the tail. Some diseases that you should watch for are:
Trauma: You can often see trauma in how the tail is being carried. If it looks bent or there is noticeable paralysis in the tail, there is a good chance that there are wounds or even dislocations and fractures. Visit the vet immediately.
Tumors: Cats get tumors as well, and they can often be found on a cat’s long tail. When you are petting your cat, run your hand down their tail. If you feel any unusual lumps or bumps, have your vet check them to make sure they are benign.
Alopecia: Often seen on long tails, this is hair loss on the tail. It can be caused by a lot of different reasons and needs to be addressed before it becomes a bigger problem than slight hair loss.
Stud-Tail: Finally, watch for this condition at the base of the tail. It is a thickening of oil and can be quite uncomfortable for your cat.
Cats with long tails are abundant in the world. In fact, they are so common that we often think of the long tail when we think of a cat in general. However, there are only a few breeds that have those exceptionally beautiful long tails, and they are definitely worth celebrating.
Owning one can be a joy, and it is wonderful to see that long cat tail draped over the side of the couch when you come home for the day…especially if you have one of the six breeds we described today.
Are you interested in adopting a long-tailed cat? Which breed do you think will suit you best? Share your thoughts and opinion with us in the comments section below! Also, check out our article on friendly cat breeds; it might help in your quest to find the perfect cat.