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6 Common Cat Tail Types (with Pictures)

Cats can be found in a wide variety of coat colors, patterns, and body types. The Cat Fancier’s Association officially recognizes 44 pedigreed cat breeds, while The International Cat Association, currently recognizes 73 different cat breeds for championship competition.

With all the varying features that can be found throughout the pedigrees, it’s easy to wonder which tail types are the most common among our beloved felines. While the breed standard is specific to each pedigree, we’ll go over some of the most common cat tail types below.

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The 6 Most Common Cat Tail Types

1. Normal

black at walking on a wall
Image Credit: timothy meinberg, Unsplash

Most cats will display a normal tail that is proportionate to their size. Normal tail types are thicker at the base, moderately proportioned, and taper at the end. This tail type is most definitely the more common tail variety and is not only seen in the majority of registered purebred cat breeds, but also among most mixed breeds cats.

Common breeds with this tail type include:
  • Abyssinian
  • American Shorthair
  • Bengal
  • Bombay
  • Burmese
  • Devon Rex
  • Egyptian Mau
  • Havana Brown
  • Tonkinese
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2. Full and Fluffy

brown and orange cat behind
Image Credit: marnhe-du-plooy, Unsplash

There’s nothing quite like a cat with a big bushy tail full of fluff. Some of the most popular cat breeds in the world come complete with a tail full of thick, medium to long length fur. For the most part, the tail sizes are proportionate to their body, though it doesn’t seem that way due to the density.

Common breeds with this tail type include:
  • American Curl
  • Birman
  • LaPerm
  • Maine Coon
  • Norwegian Forest Cat
  • Persian
  • RagaMuffin
  • Ragdoll
  • Turkish Van
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3. Long and Thin

siamese cat looking up in the camera
Image Credit: ilya chunin, Unsplash

Some cats breeds sport a distinct, long, and thin tail that looks a bit long in proportion to their body. The long, thin tail type will vary in texture and density depending on the breed of cat and their coat type, but the tail typically tapers at the very end. The most common breeds with a long, thin tail are the Siamese, the Russian Blue, and Sphynx, though many mixed breed cats will get this trait passed down as well.

Common breeds with this tail type include:
  • Balinese
  • Burmilla
  • Colorpoint Shorthair
  • Cornish Rex
  • Oriental
  • Russian Blue
  • Siamese
  • Sphynx
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4. Bobtail

One tail type that is sure to stand out among the rest is the bobtail. This tail type is the result of a genetic mutation and has been selectively bred within some of the most recognizable purebreds such as the Manx and the American Bobtail. Interestingly, the bobtail is unique not only to the specific cat breed but to each individual cat. Bobtail tail types will vary in length and even kittens within the same litter can have varying tails from short and stubby like a Bobcat to a partial tail. You never know what you are going to get with this mutation.

Common breeds with this tail type include:
  • American Bobtail
  • Japanese Bobtail
  • Kurilian Bobtail
  • Manx
  • Pixie-Bob
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5. Fox-like

orange and white cat looking at a camera
Image Credit: chen jian, Unsplash

The fox-like tail type is one of the rare tail types and is most notably present in the Somali and Turkish Angora breeds. While similar to the thick, fluffy tails we talked about previously, fox-like tails are much more pronounced and very specifically resemble that of a fox with the overall density and bushiness. This tail type is rarely seen on your average mixed breed cat.

Common breeds with this tail type include:
  • Somali
  • Turkish Angora
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6. Tailless

You may think that tailless would fall into the category of the bobtail variety, but the complete lack of tail allows this tail type to stand alone. Taillessness is only observed in the Manx breed, though not all Manx are tailless and some come with the more well-known bobtail type with a small stub. Per the Manx breed standard, a rise of bone at the end of the spine is allowed. Domesticated mixed breed cats are more often observed with a tail stub, rather than being completely tailless.

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Some Interesting Facts About Cat Tails

The interesting information about the hindmost part of your cat doesn’t end with the different tail types. Here are some additional fun and interesting facts about cats’ tails:

Tails Help With Balance and Communication

A cat’s tail plays an important role in how they balance.  The tail serves a cat by helping with balancing during the hunt when walking on narrow surfaces, and when jumping up and down from high places. Cats also use their tails as a means to communicate. One indicator of body language in cats is the position and appearance of the tail; it can really help you tune into your cat’s current mood.

The Tailless Gene is Dominant

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the tailless gene that is seen in the Manx cat breed. This tailless gene is dominant but does require selective breeding with a recessive gene to prevent lethal results.  Having two copies of the dominant tailless gene can result in stillbirths and severe central nervous system and developmental issues.

Tail Injuries Can Result in Permanent Damage

orange cat lying on a stairs
Image Credit: mapper-max-ogden, Unsplash

The tail is full of many nerves that are protected by bony vertebrae.  Even with the protection, injury can still take place and result in either temporary or permanent nerve damage. Tail pulling puts cats at serious risk of permanent damage and can even cause damage to nerves further up the spine that control elimination.

Cats Can Live Perfectly Normal Lives Without Tails

As mentioned, cats do use their tail to help with balance and as a form of communication. Though this may come as no surprise, considering some cats are tailless, cats can live a perfectly normal life without a tail. If an injury were to result in the need for tail amputation, the cat would eventually adjust and be able to function just fine. In fact, the taillessness of the Manx does not affect their balance.

Domestic Cats are the Only Felines That Hold The Tail Vertical When Walking

Unlike all other members of the Felidae family, domesticated cats are the only species within the family that hold their tails in a vertical position while they walk. Their wild counterparts either hold their tails horizontally or tucked between their legs when in motion.

The Average Length of a Cat’s Tail is 12 Inches

While the average tail length for a domesticated cat is 12 inches, a Maine Coon named Cygnus Regulus Powers was featured in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the longest tail on a domesticated cat. Cygnus’ tail measured a whopping 17.58 inches!

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Conclusion

While a  cat’s tail size is typically relative to its body length and coat density, there are some exceptions to the rule. Whether they’re short or bobtailed, long, thin, fluffy, or even missing entirely, it can be a real treat observing the different variations of tails that exist on both purebred and mixed breed cats.

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Featured Image: jason-leung, Unsplash