Does Cat Tail Length Determine Size?

Cats come in all shapes and sizes, from the tiny Singapura to the massive Maine Coon. One distinctive feature all cats share is their long, flexible tails. But does the length of a cat’s tail actually determine its size? That’s an intriguing question for cat lovers.

A cat’s tail serves many important functions. It helps the cat balance and make sharp turns while running and jumping. It also allows the cat to communicate its moods – a lashing tail often signals irritation. Additionally, the tail helps cats stay warm by wrapping around their bodies. Given all these uses, tail length seems likely related to the cat’s overall size.

While there is no definitive correlation between cat size and tail length, some general trends emerge. Typically, larger cat breeds like Maine Coons have longer tails, while smaller cats tend to have more proportional tails. However, there are many exceptions, so tail length alone cannot predict a cat’s eventual size with total accuracy.

Cat Tail Length Determine Size

A cat’s tail is an intriguing and expressive part of their anatomy. The average cat’s tail length ranges from 9 to 11 inches, but can vary considerably between breeds and individuals. This raises an interesting question – does a cat’s tail length actually correlate to and determine their size?

Overview of Cat Tail Length

To understand if tail length determines a cat’s size, we first need to review some key points about feline tails:

  • Cats use their tails for balance, communication, and expressing emotion. A healthy tail is important for a cat’s agility and spatial awareness.
  • There are over 70 different pedigreed cat breeds. Tail lengths range from nonexistent in the Manx to extra long in the American Curl.
  • Mixed breed domestic cats generally have tails in proportion to their body size, averaging 9 to 11 inches long.
  • Genetics strongly influence tail length, especially mutations on the “T” gene responsible for short tails or no tail at all.
  • While some cat tail lengths are breed standards, there is still variability within a breed based on the length of each caudal vertebrae.

Cat Tail Length To Body Ratio

Cats have tails that are generally about as long as their bodies. Specifically, the average tail length for a male cat is 11 inches. For a female cat it’s 9.9 inches. So if a cat is 20 inches long, its tail would also be around 20 inches.

Some cat breeds have tails described in their standards relative to body length. For example, the American Curl standard calls for a tail equal in length to the body. Birman cats should have tails medium in length and pleasingly proportionate. 

Mixed breed or “moggie” cats tend to have more variation in tail length. Their tails may be shorter or longer than their bodies. But in most cats, the tail length gives a rough idea of the cat’s size.

Factors That Determine Cat Size

Cat size is multifactorial. Here are some of the key determinants:

  • Genetics: Purebred cats are intentionally bred to meet specific breed standards regarding size. Mixed breeds exhibit more variability.
  • Gender: Male cats are typically larger than females.
  • Nutrition: Proper nutrition supports achieving a cat’s genetically predisposed size. Malnutrition can stunt growth.
  • Health: Chronic medical conditions may impair growth and result in smaller adult size.
  • Spay/Neuter Status: Cats fixed young often have subtle decreases in adult height/length compared to intact cats.

So while genetics predisposes size potential, environmental factors also play an important role in determining adult size.

How To Measure A Cat’s Tail

How To Measure A Cat's Tail

To measure a cat’s tail, you’ll need a flexible tape measure. Have the cat sit or lay down comfortably. Gently straighten the tail and measure from the base near the body to the tip of the tail. Some cats don’t enjoy having their tails touched though. So work quickly or have a second person help distract the cat with treats.

When noting the measurement, specify if the tail tip is cropped or kinked since that impacts full length potential. Also indicate the cat’s age and breed if known. Kittens have nearly full tail length already. But body size continues growing to match proportions. 

Why Does My Cat Suck On My Shirt is a common inquiry among cat owners, often stemming from curious feline behavior. While the absence of a tail, as seen in breeds like Manx, is a result of genetics, understanding breed standards allows for comparisons in tail length and size.

The Association Between Tail Length and Body Size

With background on cat tails and determinants of cat size covered, we can now specifically analyze if tail length correlates to and determines body size.

There are several key considerations in this relationship:

  • Proportionate Tails: Most domestic mixed breed cats have tails proportional to their body length at roughly the same 9-11 inch average regardless of overall size. A 15 lb Maine Coon can have the same tail as a 7 lb domestic shorthair.
  • Breed Tail Standards: Some breeds are specified to have tails in proportion to their body length. For example, the American Curl standard calls for a tail equaling body length. So in this case, longer bodies would have longer tails.
  • Tail Mutations: Short tail mutations like the Japanese Bobtail and Kurilian Bobtail are independent of body size. Cats with these genetic changes can be smaller or larger and the tail length remains shortened.
  • Injuries: Injuries shortening the tail do not affect body size or growth potential.
  • Docking: Artificial tail docking does not correlate to adult size.

While proportional domestic cat tails may give the impression of determining size, this does not prove causation. And exceptions like breed standards and mutations demonstrate a lack of consistent correlation. So while cat tail length can indicate breed and health, it does not inherently determine the size of a cat.

How Big Will My Cat Get Calculator

There is an online calculator to estimate how big a cat will get. It uses the cat’s current age and weight. For example, it says a 4 week old kitten weighing 1 pound will likely grow to 8 pounds. This calculator is based on the rule that at 16 weeks, kittens reach half their adult weight.

To use the calculator, you enter the cat’s age in weeks and current weight in pounds. Then it estimates the full grown weight. It also shows a chart of the expected weight gain over time. So you can see if your cat is growing as predicted. 

The calculator notes that the largest domestic cat weighed over 46 pounds. But most cats will end up between 8-12 pounds depending on breed. It can help guide feeding and care to predict adult size.

Notable Cat Breeds and Their Tails

To further demonstrate the lack of determination between tail length and cat size, here is an overview table of some popular cat breeds and their expected tail lengths:

Breed Adult Weight Range Typical Tail Length
Siamese 8-15 lbs Long, tapering
Maine Coon 8-25 lbs males, 6-12 lbs females Long, furry
Manx 7-12 lbs No tail
American Bobtail 7-16 lbs Short 1-4 inch nub
Japanese Bobtail 7-10 lbs Articulated 4-8 inches
American Curl 5-10 lbs Equal to body length

As evident in the table, cat size based on breed standards shows no consistent correlation to tail length.

Does A Long Tail Mean A Big Cat

Does A Long Tail Mean A Big Cat

A cat’s tail length does not always indicate its size. Some cats just naturally have longer tails that are out of proportion to their body size. For example, a 7 pound cat may have a 12 inch long tail. Genetics plays a big role in determining tail length.

There is some correlation between tail length and adult size. Kittens tend to grow into their tails, paws, and ears first. So a kitten with oversized features like a long tail may end up being a larger cat.   There are also some cat breeds known for long tails that tend to be larger, like the Maine Coon. But mixed breed “moggie” cats can have long tails regardless of size. 

So while a very long tail can hint that a kitten may become a big cat, it doesn’t guarantee it. The length is often simply an individual trait.


In closing, a cat’s tail is an amazing aspect of their anatomy, allowing balance and expression. Tail lengths relative to body size can certainly give the impression that it determines overall size. 

Exceptions to proportionality in various breeds and mutational effects demonstrate a lack of consistent predictive determination of body size by tail length. Instead, complex genetic influences on conformation and a variety of environmental factors are at play in achieving adult feline size. 

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