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 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: