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American Ringtail Cat Breed Info: Traits, Personality & Pictures

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on June 20, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

American Ringtail Cat

American Ringtail Cat Breed Info: Traits, Personality & Pictures

Breed Overview


8–10 inches


7–15 pounds


15–20 years


Brown, pied, black, cream, white, orange, tabby, gray

Suitable for:

Families with older children, singles, seniors, first-time cat owners


Affectionate, curious, outgoing

The American Ringtail is also known as the Ringtail Sing-a-Ling. They are a relatively new cat breed. The primary distinction between these cats and others is their curling tails that form a ring towards their back.

American Ringtails are sweet cats that tend to get along with most others they encounter, including other animals and humans. They usually are pretty loving and relatively patient for a cat. Most cat associations still consider them a rare breed, and locating a breeder for these felines can be challenging.

American Ringtail Cats Characteristics

A high-energy cat needs a lot of physical and mental stimulation to keep healthy and happy, while a low-energy cat needs minimal physical activity, but still needs mental stimulation. When choosing a cat, It’s important to ensure their energy levels match your lifestyle.
Cats that are easy-to-train are more willing and skilled at quickly learning prompts and actions with minimal training. Harder-to-train cats are usually more stubborn or aloof and require a bit more patience and practice.
Certain cat breeds are more prone to various genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every cat in those breeds will have these issues, but they do have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Due to their size or potential genetic health issues of a specific breed, some cats have shorter lifespans than others. Proper nutrition, exercise, mental stimulation, and hygiene also play an important role in your cat’s lifespan and quality of life.
Some cat breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other cats and animals. Cats that are more social have a tendency to rub up on strangers for scratches or jump on laps for cuddles, while cats that are less social shy away, hide, are more cautious, and even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed or gender, it’s important to socialize your cat and expose them to many different situations.

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American Ringtail Kittens

American Ringtail kittens can be a challenge to find since they are still a rare breed. They are currently only recognized by The International Cat Association, but with “Registration Only” status.

Although you will not likely find these cats in a shelter, it is still worth looking. Adopting an animal from a shelter gives an abandoned cat a new family and loving home. If you research breeders of American Ringtail cats, ensure that the breeder you decide to adopt your cat from practices healthy breeding habits.

You can do this by asking to get a tour around their facility. Reputable breeders will always show you around since they have nothing to hide. Many of the best breeders are proud of their breeding facility. They should show you all the areas where they allow their cats. While going through the facility, check for safety measures they have put in place and the facility’s cleanliness.

Beyond getting a tour through their facility, you should also ask to see the parents’ registration or certification papers. Also, check through the parents’ veterinary records since they can make you aware of any possible diseases that could be genetically inherited. If you see evidence of any, alert your vet so that they can watch for them specifically as your cat ages.

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Temperament & Intelligence of the American Ringtails

American Ringtail cats are very friendly. Their sociability doesn’t stand out too far from the attitude of other breeds, but it is something to appreciate if you frequently have guests over. They have an average intelligence level, so training them to do much more than use their litter box shouldn’t be expected.

They have a wonderful personality and seem to communicate with their owners as they speak with them. They are affectionate and quite outgoing, although shyness can surface around strangers.

American Ringtails like to explore and sometimes want to hide their food instead of eating it immediately. Some of these traits are thought to be because of their feral roots.

Are These Cats Good for Families? 👪

American Ringtails are a good choice for families, particularly those with slightly older children. They do not have a lot of patience if kids mishandle them. Gratefully, these cats are pretty robust and will not be injured easily. Teach your kids and the cat how to interact with each other to encourage a good relationship.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

American Ringtails can experience the need to protect their territory against other animals. However, they tend to tolerate others if you socialize them from a young age and do not allow them to foster aggression towards other animals.

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Things to Know When Owning an American Ringtail Cat:

Food & Diet Requirements 🐡

You can free-feed your American Ringtail cat. At times, if their food is left out for too long, they might try to hide pieces of it around the house. If you experience consistent issues with this, monitor the times you feed your cat and put them on a schedule.

Exercise 🐈

American Ringtails typically keep themselves in pretty good shape if they have enough space around the house to play. They do enjoy climbing and playing with toys, so giving them interactive toys and a climbing tree is ideal.

To keep them in as good a shape as possible, try to take at least 20 minutes to play with them. With toys and games, encourage them to move around, jump, and run.

Training 🧶

Training American Ringtails is a challenge. It is easy to teach almost any cat to use a litter box, but the American Ringtail’s attention span does generally not last very long.

Grooming ✂️

Grooming your cat is an excellent way to spend one-on-one time with them. The American Ringtail cat typically has a coat that is short or medium length. Their coats usually are effortless to maintain, and they tend to keep themselves clean.

You can brush your cat about two times a week to work out any mats or tangles, and some American Ringtails grow to love the experience. They do not shed very much, but brushing helps keep their fur soft and shiny.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Although their ringed tail doesn’t cause them any specific health problems, American Ringtails can experience issues as they age.

Minor Conditions
  • Eye problems
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Deafness
  • Constipation
Serious Conditions
  • Arthritis

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Male vs. Female

There are no significant differences between males and females. Generally speaking, the personality traits of your American Ringtail will be more influenced by their parents and environment than by their sex.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the American Ringtail Cats

1. American Ringtails Were First Developed From a Feral Cat in 1998

The American Ringtail is still considered by many to be an experimental breed. The entire line of the breed began with one feral cat who was rescued in 1998. The cat’s name was Solomon. Susan Manley adopted him as a 2-day-old kitten who had been seemingly abandoned by his mother.

Susan bottle-fed him so he would survive, and he eventually grew into a strong and healthy cat. When he reached 4 weeks old, she noticed that his tail curled uniquely over his back in a way that wasn’t typical of most cats.

She eventually took Solomon to be examined by a vet. The veterinarian determined it was not a medical issue causing the tail’s curl. The cat was comfortable, in no pain, but simply holding his tail curled over his back whenever he was relaxed.

The following year, 1999, Susan began her breeding program. The program’s primary goal was to reproduce the trait of the curled tail. It helped when she noticed that some of the other feral cats in her neighborhood also exhibited the ringed tail trait and could be used in her breeding program.

In 2005, her breeding program expanded, and more breeders began to work with her. They were primarily bred with other purebreds and Domestic Shorthairs. The International Cat Association gave the breed its current “Registration Only” status that same year.

2. These Cats Are Bred to be All Colors and Patterns

Since the other side of this cat’s genetic parentage has never been firmly set, they can come in various colors and patterns. The breed has become more established, but before this, many purebreds were used to produce the American Ringtails we have today.

As a result, they can have several colors, patterns, and shades.

3. The Ringed Tail of the American Ringtail Comes From a Genetic Mutation

If a physical deformity or a medical illness isn’t what has caused the cats’ ringed tail, then what is it? A genetic mutation causes the ringtail. It doesn’t cause the cats pain or harm, so breeding them to enhance this trait isn’t deemed cruel. They can straighten their tail and move it around if they want. It isn’t stuck in a ring.

When American Ringtails are first born, the kittens have straight tails. However, they will steadily grow longer as they age and begin to curl towards their back.

Their tail is muscular, and the feature of the ring develops because the bones that grow at the base of the tail do not fuse. They can uncurl it, but the curl is often where the tail sits whenever they feel relaxed. The curl doesn’t impact their balance or movement since they can move it around when necessary.

Interestingly, American Ringtails use their tails even more than other cats. Because it is naturally shaped, they can use it to slow them down more effectively. You might notice this when they descend from a tree or want to slow down in a high-speed chase.

divider 1 pawsFinal Thoughts

The American Ringtail is a unique cat breed that is still relatively new. They are considered experimental by most cat associations and have only gained recognition by one organization (TICA) thus far. Their ringed tails set them apart, but their coat colors and patterns resemble other felines. The care requirements for American Ringtails are otherwise very typical compared to many other breeds.

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Featured Image Credit: Wirestock Creators, Shutterstock

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