American Ringtail Cat (2022)

The American Ringtail is a new and unique breed of cat (this page was written around 2010 and has been updated Sept 2022). 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. Over the past five years, this webpage has acquired a number of interesting comments from owners of ring-tailed cats, some perhaps purebred and some random bred.

American Ringtail Cat
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

American Ringtails are friendly, outgoing, engaging, and thoroughly bonded to their human companions. The outstanding feature of the breed is a tail which 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 (2014), although there are breeders across the US and in Canada.

Ringtail Cat

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

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.
  • Sept. 2022 – The breed has not been accepted by the two leading American cat associations: CFA and TICA. The cat is not listed as one of their breeds. It seems that the breed has not gained general acceptance. This may be because the genetic mutation is fairly common among the general cat population judging by the comments below, in which case it cannot be turned into a purebred cat. Purebred cats need to be unique. If they are replicated among large numbers of non-purebred cats, it undermines the breed’s status and right to exist.

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.

Update Sept 2022: Sadly, the website is down and effectively no longer exists. This clearly points to the fact that the breed has failed in the sense that it has not been accepted by the cat associations. Without that acceptance there is no breed.

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.

Below are some pages on genetics:

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

121 thoughts on “American Ringtail Cat (2022)”

  1. 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?

    Reply
    • 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).

      Reply
  2. 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.

    Reply
  3. 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.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  4. 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

    Reply
    • 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)

      Reply
  5. 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!

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply

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