American Ringtail Cat

American Ringtail Cat

American Ringtail cat – photo of “Solomon’s Promise” © Joseph L Halbleib

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Introduction

The American Ringtail is a new and unique breed of cat. Founded in 1998 in the San Francisco Bay Area after a cat rescuer Susan Manley hand raised a kitten that turned out to be unusual. After researching the trait and consulting feline geneticists as well as cat fancier experts, Susan worked to decipher the genetics and reproduced this unique cat.

American Ringtails are friendly, outgoing, engaging, and thoroughly bonded to their human companions. The outstanding feature of the breed is a tail is very flexible and strong, and naturally sits in the curled position. There is no pain or discomfort at all to the cat and they can move their tail just like any other cat, they just prefer to hold it in a curl.

American Ringtails are still relatively rare (2010), although there are breeders across the US and in Canada.

Ringtail Cat

Photo of “Tip of The Toes” an 11 weeks old male

The Founder

You can read what Beth Gardner says about Susan Mandley on the American Ringtail cat website. My impression is that Susan is an intelligent thoughtful and kind person who loves animals. This love of animals is reflected in her cat and dog rescues and this new and interesting breed of domestic cat, the American Ringtail Cat. She currently works in business start ups. As the curled over tail of this cat is caused genetically, Susan used her knowledge and interest in genetics to understand what was going. That is work in progress.

The Genetics

Ringtail Cat

“Solomon” the founding cat at age 7 months

It is thought that at least two genes are at work in producing the famous ring tail, one dominant and one recessive. Both have no associated health issues.

The dominant gene is sex linked (X-linked or autosomal) and produces the aerial tail. This is not unique to this cat.

The recessive gene produces the curl in the tail. This is much more unusual than the aerial tail and is seen in feral and domestic cat populations around Hayward, California, says Beth Gardner, who works with Susan in breeding the American Ringtail cat.

Read more on genetic issues by visiting the breed’s website (link below). Or you might like to visit this page on the site: Curly Tail Cat for pics, genetics, a dog and a lizard!

History

Jan 2004 – First litter born. Their names:-

  • Singaling Chasin’ Tail
  • Singaling Chip N’ Tail
  • Singaling Promise Ring
  • Singaling Leila Blue

March 2005 – Outcrossed with a male Ragdoll cat producing a lovely litter of long haired ringtailed cats.

July 2005 – TICA recognize the breed – “registration only” status

Nov. 2005 – Outcrossed a second time to a male Ragdoll cat.

Health

The spine vertebrae are normal. The tail is very flexible. The base of the tail is more muscular than normal. As mentioned there are no associated health issues accompanying the genes that produce the curl in the tail.

Appearance

Of course the photographs illustrate the cat very well. The appearance is taken from the Breed Standard, which you can find on the breed website (link below). These are my words and a very brief overview only. This is a medium to large, well balanced cat, with a distinctive tail. This cat is not, as can be seen, a rangy or, the opposite, a cobby cat. The first third of the tail should be upright and then it should fall over but not such that it is tightly curled. In other words the curl in the tail should not be extreme. The head should be slightly longer than wide. Ears should be slightly larger than medium sized and the torso medium-long.

The Website

This is one of the best cat breed websites that I have seen and I have seen a lot as you might imagine.

Please visit the American Ringtail Cat website and read and see more. The cattery owned by Susan Mandley and Beth Gardner is called Singaling Cattery.

Thanks

My thanks to Susan Mandley and Beth Gardner for agreeing to let me build a page on this website about this new cat breed and to Joseph L Halbleib for giving permission to publish his photograph of Soloman’s Promise above.


Comments

American Ringtail Cat — 49 Comments

  1. Our neighbors asked my daughter to babysit their cats, they had said “Something is wrong with their tails” though…when they came back from their cruisse they decided they didn’t want the cats at all. By then, we fell in love with them as they are quite endearing. Their tails curl over their backs, in a ring-tail fashion. A non-ring tail mated with one of the females, and I ws wondering what the chance will be to getting a ring-tailed kitten…

    • I have two ring tail females that are half domestic whatever and they don’t at this point have the same facial structure, but they most certainly have the standup over the back tail curl. They are not afraid of my Maine Coon/domestic short hair male. Most cats aresince summer weight is 35 lbs. They are amazing pets.

  2. We unwittingly adopted a ring-tail kitten from a Shelter. She definitely fits a lot of the criteria of a ring-tail; very talkative, follows me all over the house, but she also has some bad habits. She hasn’t learned not to use her claws on us humans and she loves to bite feet and toes. And, when she is sitting nicely with you she will all of a suddenly lunge for your arm or hands and tear you to pieces with her claws and mouth Lately she doesn’t seem to want to cuddle or be held.

    She is perfectly healthy and we have made her a massive tree with different platforms on, so that she can climb and go crazy. I wonder if some of her issues are due to her being a shelter cat? Obviously, we do not know about her beginnings in life, but they were obviously not ideal.

    I wonder if anyone has any ideas to help us out with her issues?

    • Hi Vicky. My thought is that your cat is not properly socialized and has not be raised with other kittens perhaps where she could have played and learned when to stop or how hard to bite etc. Another factor might be that she is just a kitten. Kittens play and chase things that move like feet. This will stop as she grows up. I’d play with her using a cat tease (stick with feather on the end) and other toys and burn off her energy and desire to play/hunt which she is doing. This will subside. If you have a cat with a ring tail (curled over tail) you have a rare cat as this genetic mutation is rare.

    • I would suggest watching a few episodes of My Cat from Hell on the Animal Planet channel. Don’t force affection on her. Buy some interactive cat toys like toys at the end of a string and spend about a half hour to an hour a day playing with her. Each member of the family should play with her. That will help build a relationship. And if the attacks happen when you pet her – don’t initiate petting with her. Wait for her to be affectionate first.

      It probably does come from being in the shelter and whatever abuse she encountered prior to coming into your home. But she can be taught to be a loving cat through time, nurturing and love.

      And I highly recommend watching My Cat From Hell. It is available on Netflix. He will repeat his methods with different cats and always gets great results. I have used them on my cats and had great results.

      Good luck! And enjoy as your cat’s personality emerges. I have one that loves to be pet all the time. The other wants to be next to me, by me, around me, but does not want me to touch her unless she is relaxed and half sleep.

      Keep us posted on your progress.

  3. Have received multiple sightings of a large BROWN cat with black rings around tail. Estimated weight of cat: 60-75 lbs. Mammal was caught by trail camera near Peoria, Illinois in January. Anyone with information on such felines, please contact epuma@frontier.com

    • Hi John, when I read you comment, I am reminded as to how people can assess size at a distance inaccurately. If the sightings were of a large (say 20 pound) brown tabby cat, a domestic cat, then that would fit the description.

      In Britain a lot of people mistook a large tabby cat siting in a field for a lion ;) It makes me smile. If people can do that they can certainly mistake the difference between 60 pounds and 20 pounds. All that said pumas can be the size you state but as you know the tail has a black tip so that does not fit the description. I guess you know that well already.

  4. I just thought my kitty is a very odd (yet extremely loved!)cat until I did some research on this. Also took him to the vet just in case something was wrong with his tail but no, there was nothing wrong with him at all. Here’s some pics of him and his tail http://oi47.tinypic.com/zoojo.jpg :)

  5. We just adopted an 8-week old kitten from our local pound. She has kind of a “ringed” tail, but in her case its more like a true corkscrew or a pig’s tail. Its straight (normal) for the first half then makes a series of 90-degree turns to the right. Three in total, so that her tail almost forms a “square”. Its the darndest thing! Otherwise, she’s a normal tawny brown tabby. Seems perfectly healthy, tail doesn’t bother her (we can touch it, move it, she doesn’t complain — doesn’t seem broken or anything). We’ll see what the vet says. Because of laws in California, she’s scheduled to be spayed in 3 weeks tho….

    • Thanks for sharing. A very interesting and special cat. I hope the tail does that into adulthood. Sometimes development changes anatomy. Anyway she is the sort of cat that the breeders of the American Ringtail would have used. If you have a picture, I would be interested to see her. You can email me:

      mjbmeister[at]gmail.com

      change the [at] for @

  6. We found our American Ringtail at the Sonoma County shelter in June 2010. Lovely breed, seems more like a dog. He follows me around the house and has to sleep near. Trained him to come when called, sit, lay down, shake, high 5, rollover and use toilet. He is very talkative and will answer when asked certain questions. Seems to be loving by what appears to be hugging is when laying on us. He did have a bout with struvite crystals so is only on prescription can food diet.

  7. Hi, I adopted my ringtail in Crete, Greece, three years ago, so actually she is both an Aegean cat – the oldest breed of cats – and a ringtail cat. She was then a semi-feral kitten, sick with cat flu, parasite ridden and the sole survivor of her litter, and it took me some time to socialize her. She has a strong personality and is dominant. She used to bite a lot at play and I taught her to play more gently by saying ‘shhh’ when she was rough. I would also blow in her face and stop playing with her when she ignored my warning. She now bites for fun very gently, without hurting me and is a true pet. She’s very smart and affectionate. Her tail is amazing: it’s very strong and almost prehensile. She curls it around my arm when I pet her. Like other people mentioned regarding their ringtail cat, mine is also very talkative. She even imitates me when I say ‘bon-jour’ to her in the morning and does ‘meow-meow’. I’m so happy to have her!

    • Hi Helene. Thanks for describing your ringtail cat. Very interesting. I would love to see a picture. If you can get a picture you can upload it into a comment by clicking the button just below the comment box. Thanks again.

  8. Hello,
    I used to have a ring tailed cat years ago. I am looking for another….. is anyone aware of any breeders?
    Thanks much,
    Maureen

    • Hi, Maureen.
      I have a feral cat who has reared her kittens in my yard under a bush. Today they came out to eat and a red tabby kitten has a ring tail it carries on its back. At first I thought the kitten was just overly excited, but then saw that it does it all the time. So I looked it up on the internet… I’m trying to find the email of any ringtail breeders who started it all but I will give it to you, if you’re interested and if we’re close enough. I’m near Yuba City, California (If I catch it)

  9. In June of 2013 a kitten came to our house and was staying under a shed. We would only see it a few times when it came to the porch to eat the food I put out. We watched and found out where it was staying, then I started putting the food by the shed. One of my other rescue cats chased it up a tree. Eight hours later it was still there, fearing to come down. So my daughter and I took a bowl of food and a ladder. Now we have the kitten. As it got older, we noticed the tail curled up and across his back. I’ve had a lot of cats but never one like this. And no one else had seen this. So after looking on the internet, we found this sight and “Boots” is absolutely a RINGTAIL. We have no idea where he came from but he is unique. And follows me better than the dogs do. Thanks for the information. Without it, I would have never known what kind of cat he is.

    • Great Marna, Boots was lucky he found you and you found him. He is a very rare cat carrying the rare gene that causes the tail to curl. If you can take a picture and upload it into a comment that would be great. Thanks for sharing.

  10. We adopted a kitten in Aug. of 2013 from Petco. We could talk to it in the cage before adopting it, and just really bonded to him. We call him Rocket or Boober. When we lifted him out of the cage for the first time this big long furry curled up tail came out with him. We had never seen anything like it. We think he is part Maine Coon cat with a curled ring tail. Our other cats were a bit afraid of him at first as even as a kitten he had looked to be a big orange cat with large paws, lots of hair, and that unusual tail. Needless to say, we have found that the kids on the street want to all pet Boober when they see him. We looked online and found this site when looking to find an explanation for cats with tails like his.

  11. This kitty visits my house in Decatur, IL. Friendly and talkative. S/he is always hungry so I feed her when she comes around. I didn’t know this trait was characteristic of a breed and just discovered ringtails online. What do you think?

    • Jeanette. I’d love to see your photo but it is more than 2 mg in size and therefore has not uploaded. If you want to try again having reduced its size (see link below comment box) that would be nice.

      This trait (ringed tail) is very rare but it will be found in ordinary moggie (random bred) cats as well for this breed. All the cat breeds founded in gene mutations are also seen as moggies albeit it rarely (e.g. hairless cats and rex cats).

  12. My cat Bruce. (like the shark off Finding Nemo) He is 1 yr old and his tail has always been like this, but its getting more curled as he gets older.
    I thought he had a malformed tail.

    • You have a ring tailed cat. Bruce is an unregistered American Ringtail ;) What I mean is Bruce has the ringtail genes which are very rare but are found in some random bred cats. The founding cats in America were the same (random bred cat with a ring tail just like Bruce) and they started the cat breed the American Ringtail cat.

      Thanks for sharing. Very interesting to see this cat in Australia. Perhaps Bruce is the only domestic ringtail cat in Australia. He is lovely. You are a rare cat.

  13. I was hoping to find the answer to a question about my orange tabby Harpo’s propensity to make a ring of his tail sometimes when he’s stretching. His tail is not the same as your ringtails, however. Most of the time his tail is straight and up, but sometimes when he stretches he will make a perfect circle with the tip of his tail, directly under the top, at the anus. Have you seen this before? He is the light of my life, and I got him at the Peninsula Humane Society, San Mateo, CA, June 2010.

    • Hi Gayle. This may be just a droopy tip of tail. Some cats rarely have this. The tip flops forward. Or it may be a variation on the curly tailed cats meaning a genetic mutation or genetic inheritance. There are several pages on curl tailed cats on this site.

      I favour the droopy tip of tail idea. Tails are quite mobile especially at the tip where they “communicate”. When I talk to my cat when he is on my bed lying next me he might not respond vocally but his tail may curl at the tip and slowly swish around. It is a cat response.

      I have not seen the exact behavior/anatomy you mention but can visualize it. Thanks for visiting and asking.

  14. Nope, that’s not it. My cat’s tail curls in the opposite way, behind him, not over him. Wish I could get a picture of him, but it happens too fast. Thanks, anyway :)

    • Sorry I got that wrong. Based on what you have written it is almost certain that this is an individual cat characteristic. A cat’s own way of carrying his tail. It does vary slightly from cat to cat just like cat’s have different personalities.

      If you get a chance to upload a photo to a comment that would be great.

  15. I picked up this very fluffy kitten from my friend, who had found a pregnant cat and decided to take her home. He was the only one with this ringtail gene, as he is the only one in his family to do so. One thing is, he doesn’t always keep it like that, he can make it flat against his back, keep it drooped down the side or look like a husky. Its long enough to touch his head and has this fluffy feathered look to it. Id love to breed him and see if his any offspring will bare this unique tail as well.

  16. Last year I hand reared a litter of 4 kittens for the rescue I work with and one of the kittens has this trait. He was adopted by a family when he was around 5 months old and at that time, he carried his tail in a question mark sort of way. Last month the family went on vacation and they asked if I would care for him. I was surprised when they brought him to me and I saw that his tail was now curled around and laying on his back! After showing him to the owner of our rescue, she sent me information on american ringtail cats. The family told me they thought he was trying to copy their dogs who have tails like this! Who knew!!

    • You have an unregistered American Ringtail Cat ;) By “unregistered” I mean not registered with a cat association but still a Ringtail Cat; in other words carrying the genes that produce this characteristic.

      Thanks for sharing Bev.

  17. Thanks for the informatoon on American ringtail cats. My cat has the characteristics of a ringtail cat. He is very attached to me and has the curled tail. I attached a picture of him.

    • Hi Susan. I’d like to see your Ringtail cat but unfortunately your photo is too large. You can reduce the size if you like (online) by reading the instructions below the comment box. Thanks for visiting and trying to show us your special cat ;)

  18. Thanks for the information on American ringtail cats. My cat has the characteristics of a ringtail cat. He is very affectionate and has the curled tail.

  19. Hi I’m in Australia and my female cat Samara has the curled tail that goes over her back. Also my brother has one of her kittens who also have the curled tail however her tail goes straight up and then curls. Is it possible they have the genes of an American ringtail. Thanks :) I have attached a picture, she is pregnant in picture.

    • Hi Lauren, I don’t think the picture uploaded but I can tell you that it is almost certain that they have the same genes causing the curly tail. This is a genetic mutation present amongst the cat population generally but it is very rare. There may be variations on the genetic mutation but we don’t know. You might wish to try uploading a photo again.

      I wonder if they are the only curly tailed cats in Australia ; . That would be nice.

      Thanks for sharing.

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