Cat Tail Types

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”

Maine Coon with flowing tail
Chel with flowing tail. Photo copyright Helmi Flick
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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.


Plumed

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.

Balinese cat with plumed tail
Balinese cat with plumed tail. Photo copyright Helmi Flick

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)

Shakira Persian cat with great tail
Shakira Persian cat with great tail. Photo copyright Helmi Flick

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”

Oriental Shorthair with long thin tail
Oriental Shorthair with long thin tail. Photo copyright Helmi Flick

This Helmi picture of a black OSH shows off the thin tail very nicely.


Moderate Proportions

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:

Abyssinian cat with standard tail
Abyssinian cat with standard tail. Photo copyright Helmi Flick

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

Sphynx cat with whip-like tail
Sphynx cat with whip-like tail. Photo copyright Helmi Flick

This Sphynx appears to be a bicolor cat judging from the markings in the skin.


Powder Puff

“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.

Japanese Bobtail powder puff tail
Japanese Bobtail powder puff tail. Photo copyright Helmi Flick

 “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…”

American Bobtail very short tail
American Bobtail very short tail. Photo copyright Helmi Flick

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.


No Tail

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…

Manx cat showing no tail
Manx cat showing no tail. Photo copyright Helmi Flick

You can read about the range of tails for this cat on this page.


Regular

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”.

Olive Oyl moggie show cat with standard tail
Olive Oyl moggie show cat with standard tail. Photo copyright Helmi Flick

You can see some regular tailed show moggie cats on this page.


Curly Tail

This honour belongs to the American Ringtailed Cat:

American Ringtail Cat
American Ringtail Cat – Photo copyright Joseph Halbleib

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

20 thoughts on “Cat Tail Types”

  1. I have a 5 years old Persian cat. His fur is not overly thick on his whole body. His tail does not look like a typical fluffy Persian and is more like a regular cat. I don’t know if this can be normal for a Persian. Even my vet does not know why it is this way

    Reply
    • Your Persian cat looks like a traditional Persian and not a contemporary Persian with a flat-face. This may be why he does not have overly-long fur. It is the contemporary Persian breeders who breed their cats to extreme, which includes an extreme length of fur sometimes. This may be why his tail is not plumed as much as it might be. I would like to see a photograph of your cat’s tail if you would be kind enough to upload one. I might then be able to comment further. Thank you for sharing.

      Reply
    • High Michael
      thank you so much for your response. I am sending you some pictures so you can see my Persian Cory his body and tail fur. Sincerely Frances

      Reply
      • The Persian cat tail should be bushy and short. Your cat’s tail is short but not bushy. Either this is the way the cat has been bred in which case there is nothing you can do about it or some hair is missing from their tail for whatever reason such as overgrooming. If the tail has been like this all his adult life, then it would seem to be a genetically inherited characteristic which is non-standard for the Persian cat. You might put that down to poor breeding by the person who bred the cats. If the tail has thinned out and become less plumed then this may be overgrooming and perhaps you might watch him to see whether he is grooming his tail. I don’t know if this is hair loss or an inherited condition. If it is hair loss 90% of the time that is due to stress leading to over grooming by the way.

        Reply
  2. About a cat’s tail being flat underneath the fur, my calico cat and her daughter both have flat tails, rather they are flat on bottom and top and the sides are only slightly rounded. They are not pancake flat, but kind of fat and flat. My Maine Coon has a round tail underneath the fur.

    Reply
  3. I have two new cats, they are both pointed colors one gray one brown, with the blue eyes they look like Siamese cats. But, they have a really thick tail, not fluffy, no pointed ears, but they are beautiful. Then I have another one that has the blue eyes, like a coffee colored fur, long skinny tail with strips. I was just wondering what kind they really are, since they fit the description of many it’s only the tails that throw me off. Thanks abunch!!! Elizabeth

    Reply
    • Hello Elizabeth. Thank you for visiting, commenting and showing us your cat. The cat in the picture is probably a non-purebred, blue (grey) Siamese cat. He or she may be purebred but the breeding may not be perfect.This is because I see the tabby markings on this cat. There is the tabby M marking on the forehead and faint tabby stripes on the legs. Pointed tabby cats are called lynx point Siamese cats.Regarding your other cat, that cat may be a chocolate point or seal point Siamese cat. He or she may also be purebred but not a perfect version of purebred Siamese cat. He or she may also be a lynx point Siamese cat. Because you describe tabby markings. My guess is that they are both Siamese cats either purebred or purebred-mix. They cat in the picture looks very close to a genuine Siamese cat.If you are asked to describe them by somebody then I would describe them as Siamese cats because in Siam, now Thailand, the true Siamese cats that you see on the street are like these cats. Breeders have refined the street Siamese cat from Thailand but you could argue that the true version of the Siamese cat is the one that you find in Thailand. I hope that this helps.

      Reply

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