The cat fancy likes to use elements of the anatomy of a cat to distinguish one cat breed from another. Body types vary a lot and ears are very popular with cat breeders. There is a huge range of eye colors and ear shapes and sizes, which through selective breeding helps to mark out a cat breed from the other 104 or more breeds.
Another favorite bit of anatomy, which is included in breed standards and important in breeding, is the cat’s tail.
There is vast range of cat tail styles, lengths and fluffiness. This page presents that range,or at least a good part of it,with illustrations. I’ll start at the most fluffy, long and impressive. I’ll finish on the regular tail.
Long and Flowing
Long and flowing tails can be referred to as “plumed tails”. There is no hard and fast definition. In a true sense a plumed tail probably expands a bit towards the tip. However, it would seem to include long and flowing tails.
Examples of cat breeds with plumed tails are: Maine Coon (perhaps) and Balinese (long haired Siamese). Although the amount of fur on the tail of these cats is different because the Maine Coon is double coated while the Balinese is single coated. The word “plume” is not used routinely by the associations in their breed standards as far as I am aware. The CFA Maine Coon standard for the tail is:
“long, wide at base, and tapering. Fur long and flowing”
This is a fine Helmi Flick picture that shows off the Maine Coon tail. Although not referred to as plumed in the breed standard, it is plumed for me.
The Balinese CFA breed standard refers to the tail as plumed:
“bone structure long, thin, tapering to a fine point. Tail hair spreads out like a plume“
The tail is quite slender and the fur lies close to the skin on the body and wafts around in a true plume on the tail. I think you will find that the Balinese has the best plumed tail.
The cat in this picture is 4Ever. She is a show cat. Another cat that has a tail that is described as plumed is the longhaired version of the Oriental Shorthair.
Short and Thick
The tail’s thickness is provided by the fur length. The classic, thickly coated shortish tail is carried by the contemporary Persian cat. The breed standard refers to this cat’s coat as “long and thick, standing off from the body”.
And the tail is described as:
short, but in proportion to body length (no mention of fur length)
This is an adorable looking Persian.
Long and Thin
The classic long, thin cat tail type is the Modern Siamese tail. There are a number of cat breeds closely related to the Modern Siamese such as the Javanese and Oriental Shorthair, I’ll illustrate this type of cat tail with a picture of a black Oriental Shorthair. The CFA breed standard for the OSH tail is:
“long, thin at the base, and tapered to a fine point. Longhair Division: tail hair spreads out like a plume”
This Helmi picture of a black OSH shows off the thin tail very nicely.
A nice example of a moderately proportioned cat tail is the one belonging to the Abyssinian. The CFA breed standard describes it thus:
“thick at base, fairly long and tapering”
That probably describes 80% of all cat tails. However it may be a fraction longer than “regular” (see below).
Here’s a picture:
Whippy or Whip-like
The hairless group of cats have whippy tails. There are cat breeds that are semi-hairless such as the Peterbald. I guess they have whippy tails too. The whippy tail is a rat-like tail.
“slender, flexible, and long while maintaining proportion to body length. Whip-like, tapering to a fine point.” – CFA Sphynx breed standard
“Long, strong and whippy” – TICA Peterbald breed standard
This Sphynx appears to be a bicolor cat judging from the markings in the skin.
“Powder puff” is a nice description of a very short but long haired tail that is found on the Japanese Bobtail. The breed standard does not use the term “powder puff”. This sort of tail is unique to the Japanese Bobtail and each one is different. It is a sort of identification mark.
”the tail is unique not only to the breed, but to each individual cat..”
Very Short Tail
Many bobtailed cats have very short tails. I’ll select the classic American bobtail as an example. The CFA breed standard states:
“..is short, flexible and expressive and may be straight, slightly curved or slightly kinked…”
The tail of the American Bobtail can look like the tail of the Japanese Bobtail. The picture above shows a standard very short tailed American Bobtail.
We are talking about the Manx and Cymric (long haired Manx) under this heading. This no-tailed cat can also have a little stump sometimes. There is a range of tail vestiges.
TAILLESSNESS: appearing to be absolute in the perfect specimen. A rise of bone at the end of the spine is allowed…
You can read about the range of tails for this cat on this page.
You’ll see the best “regular” cat tails on your cat or some random bred cats who are also show cats. Here is a nice example. Her name is “Olive Oyl”.
You can see some regular tailed show moggie cats on this page.
This honour belongs to the American Ringtailed Cat: