Of course cats’s tails vary in length depending on the size of the cat and some cat breeds are not meant to have conventional tails while some wild cat species have exceptional tails.
However, you can generalise about the length of cats’ tails which is what the title to this articles seeks to do.
Among the wild cat species, excluding the short-tailed bobcat and lynx, most felids have tails that measure at least one-third to one half of the head and body length.
The margay, snow leopard, clouded leopard and marbled cat have exceptionally long tails. They are very long for a reason: to function as ‘balancing rods’ as they move about trees and for the snow leopard the steep slopes and rocks of the Himalayas.
Two other wild cats with longer than usual tails are pumas and cheetahs. The latter needs a long tail to balance when twisting and turning at high speed when chasing prey over short distances. Pumas are wonderful rock climbers and good tree climbers too. They also need long tails for balance.
Of the domestic cats the basic rule above applies except for those random bred cats who have, through genetic mutation, shortened tails – bobtails. I have seen Siamese type street cats in Asia with shortened and kinked tails. The kink is genuine Siamese but the genetic mutation creating bobtailed Siamese street cats is strange to Westerners because we are used to seeing only purebred Siamese cats. These cats have had all their ‘defects’ ironed out by selective breeding.
There are some purebred cats who are bred to have exceptionally short tails or no tail at all: American Bobtail, Kurilian Bobtail, Japanese Bobtail, Manx, Pixie-bob.
In my view the cat with the longest tail of all is the glorious snow leopard but there is nothing scientific about that decision, just seeing a lot of pictures of cats over the years.
SOME PAGES ON CATS’ TAILS: