Perhaps the most defining feature of a Maine Coon is its extraordinary tail—long, fluffy, and regal.
But beyond hypnotizing humans, a Maine Coon’s tail is an evolutionary adaptation to their snowy homeland, and of course, used for communication and balance like with all cats.
In this article, we cover the features of Maine Coon tails, fascinating reasons behind their length, its use in body language, and even tail health. Let’s start.
Why Do Maine Coons Have Such Long Tails?
If you’re fascinated by the stunning Maine Coon cats, you’re certainly not alone. This breed, with its regal demeanor and rugged good looks, has captivated feline lovers everywhere.
Maine Coons are renowned for their long, luxurious tails, and it’s not just for show! Their oversized tails serve three vital functions: providing warmth, assisting with balance, and acting as a means of communication.
For Keeping Warm
Maine Coons hail from the northeastern United States, where winters can be harsh and chilly. Their long, bushy tails function like built-in scarves.
When curled up, these felines often wrap their tail around their body, covering their face and paws. This not only conserves body heat but also protects their sensitive areas from the biting cold.
Any cat lover would agree that felines have an exceptional sense of balance, and Maine Coons are no exception. Their elongated tail contributes significantly to this ability.
While leaping, climbing, or navigating narrow paths, a Maine Coon’s tail acts as a counterweight, helping the cat maintain balance and stability—quite the acrobatic tool!
In the cat’s world, their tail is like a mood ring. A Maine Coon’s tail is no different—it’s a key tool for communication.
Tail postures and movements can express various feelings, from happiness and contentment (a high-held tail with a gentle curve at the tip) to fear and aggression (a fluffed up, bristled tail).
Understanding these signals can help cat parents gauge their cat’s mood and respond appropriately.
Features of Maine Coon Tails
The tail of a Maine Coon cat is a wonder in itself, drawing admiration for its exceptional length, thickness, feel and much more.
A Maine Coon tail’s length is a luxurious hallmark feature of the breed. It can measure around 11 to 18 inches long on average. Some Maine Coons may even have longer tails!
It’s tail length often as long as their body from nose to the base of the tail, and some even stretch beyond their body length! This impressive size contributes significantly to their overall majestic appearance.
Maine Coon tails are not only long, but they are also exceptionally fluffy and thick. The high volume of their tail is due to their dense and bushy double-layer coat.
The undercoat is soft and fine, providing insulation, while the outer coat is water-repellent and helps to give the tail its substantial fluffy look.
Tabby Maine Coon tails often showcase ring patterns, much like a raccoon’s tail. These alternating bands of color—ranging from lighter to darker shades based on the cat’s primary color— is behind the urban legend that Maine Coons are a cat raccoon hybrid!
Despite its bushy appearance, a health Maine Coon’s tail fur is absolutely silky to the touch. Regular grooming helps keep this fur smooth and prevents matting.
The tail usually ends in a tapering point, often accentuated by longer fur that gives it a brush-like appearance, making it extra lovely.
While all Maine Coons have long tails, some go beyond the usual length. The record for the longest tail on a cat was held by a Maine Coon named Cygnus. His tail stretched an incredible 17.58 inches, a testament to the breed’s capacity to growing astonishingly lengthy tails. Tragically, he perished in a house fire in 2021.
Maine Coon Kitten Tail
A Maine Coon kitten’s tail is small when first born and gradually grows as they mature. The fluffy tail begins to fill out and lengthen alongside their growth, reaching its full size by the time they’re around three years old.
Watching a Maine Coon kitten grow and its signature tail develop is something many parents (like I) watch very intently.
Maine Coon Tail Language
The tail of a Maine Coon cat is not just a remarkable physical attribute—it’s a pivotal tool for communication. Understanding Maine Coon tail language movements and positions can help parents interpret their pet’s feelings and responses.
|Straight Up or Flipped Like a U||A Maine Coon that holds its tail straight up or flipped in a U shape is signaling happiness and confidence. This position typically indicates that they’re comfortable in their environment and excited to interact.|
|Quivering||A quivering tail often shows high excitement or anticipation, especially when your Maine Coon cat is about to receive a treat or meal. However, if this is accompanied by spraying, it can indicate marking behavior, which should be addressed.|
|Horizontal||A tail extended horizontally behind the cat signals curiosity or mild engagement. This position often indicates that the cat is in a relaxed, neutral state, but is alert and paying attention to its surroundings.|
|Lowered or Between Legs||If you notice your Maine Coon lowering its tail or tucking it between its legs, this could be a sign of fear, anxiety, or submission. This position may indicate that your cat is feeling threatened or uncomfortable and needs reassurance or space.|
|Twitching||A gentle twitch at the end of the tail can mean that your Maine Coon is mildly irritated or simply focused. However, a vigorously twitching tail may denote agitation or increased annoyance. It’s wise to give your cat some space if you notice such a sign.|
|Wagging Back and Forth||Unlike dogs, when cats vigorously wag their tail back and forth, it usually indicates frustration or anger. In some cases, it can also denote a playful mood, but it’s important to take context and other body language cues into account.|
Maine Coon Tail Health
Maintaining the health and vitality of a Maine Coon’s tail is important for both the cat’s well-being and its magnificent appearance. However, these cats may encounter some tail health issues that owners should be aware of.
It’s Not Fluffy
If a Maine Coon’s tail appears less fluffy than usual, it might indicate a general health issue or poor nutrition. Proper grooming, a balanced diet, and regular veterinary check-ups can help maintain the tail’s fluffiness and overall health.
A Maine Coon tail’s thinning can result from various factors such as aging, stress, or skin conditions. If you notice a noticeable reduction in your Maine Coon’s tail volume, it’s advisable to consult a vet for a thorough check-up.
As mentioned, numerous factors can contribute to tail fur thinning. Hormonal imbalances, dietary deficiencies, stress, allergies, parasites, or certain medical conditions (like hyperthyroidism) can lead to a decrease in tail fluffiness.
Hair loss, or alopecia, can also affect the tail. It can result from compulsive grooming, parasitic infestations (such as fleas or mites), fungal infections, or dermatitis. In some cases, hair loss may be a symptom of more systemic diseases, requiring veterinary attention.
Stud tail, also known as feline tail gland hyperplasia, is characterized by overactive sebaceous glands near the tail base. It can lead to greasy skin, hair loss, and in severe cases, skin infections.
While stud tail is more common in unneutered males, it can affect any cat. Treatment often involves topical ointments, medicated shampoos, and in some cases, neutering.
Regular grooming and vet check-ups are essential to maintain your Maine Coon’s tail health and detect potential issues early. If you notice any changes in your cat’s tail, such as less fluffiness, thinning hair, or hair loss, it’s best to consult your vet promptly for diagnosis and treatment.
I’m Gary Hu, a proud cat dad to a 15 lb Maine Coon. Have taken care of outdoor and indoor cats for over 10 years, and learned tons on behavior, habits, health, and products. I help new Maine Coon (or any other cat) parents with common questions and issues based on real, practical experience.