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Why do Maine Coons have long tails? 3 essential reasons

Maine Coons have exceptionally long tails, ranging from 12 to 18 inches. Compare this to the average cat’s 10-inch appendage and you’ll find a Maine Coon’s tail is up to 80% longer. If you include the length of their fluff, which can be 4 inches, the Maine Coon cat has a very impressive tail indeed.

Tail length in cats is directly proportional to body length. As Maine Coons have long bodies, their tails are equally as long, providing them with the means for perfect balance. An average cat has 19 to 21 bones in its tail whereas a Maine Coon has 21 to 23 giving them impressive extra length.

A Maine Coon’s long tail isn’t just for decoration but serves three important purposes.

Maine Coon tails provide warmth

The Maine Coon originated in the chilly North American state of Maine where its long fluffy tail was ideal to wrap snuggly around its paws, and face to retain heat when curled up to sleep.

Today, Maine Coons still use their tails in this way – even though they are snug and warm in heated homes!

A Maine Coon with her long tail wrapped tightly around her body for warmth.

Maine Coon tails aid balance

Being a larger than average cat, it’s no surprise that a Maine Coon has a longer than average tail. As a Maine Coon teeters along a narrow surface or leaps from one space to another, its long tail works hard as a counterbalance to keep it stable and prevent it from falling.

As a Maine Coon hunts, its lengthy tail provides the perfect balance as it stalks and then pounces on unsuspecting prey.

Maine Coon tails provide a form of communication

A Maine Coon’s luscious tail plays an important role when it comes to cat body language. It’s one of five message zones along with their body, ears, eyes, and mouth.

How a Maine Coon holds and moves its tail can be used to interpret its mood:

  • Vertical tail. This is a sign of a happy Maine Coon.
  • Horizontal tail. A Maine Coon often holds its tail in this position when it is curious.
  • Twitching tail. When something irritates a Maine Coon, its tail will begin to twitch.
  • Wildy wagging tail. A sure sign of an agry Maine Coon, often accompanied by growling, flat ears and wide eyes.
  • Quivering tail. Most of the time a vibrating tail movement means your Maine Coon is excited to see you and is demonstrating that it loves you. It may also be that you’re about to feed it!

There are several other reasons why cats quiver their tails and it’s worth taking the time to understand each of them.

How long is a Maine Coon cat’s tail?

On average, Maine Coon tails are 12 to 18 inches in length. How long a Maine Coon’s tail grows is dependant on the number of bones within it plus the overall size of the cat.

Like many other features of these magnificent cats, their tails vary wildly in size even from one sibling to another.

Our Maine Coons, Oscar, and Fred (below) are 14-month-old brothers. Oscar’s tail is 15.5 inches long and Fred’s is a little shorter at 14 inches (and a little less fluffy too.)

Two Maine Coons displaying their long tails.

A cat’s tail is an extension of its spine and is made up of 18 to 23 caudal vertebrae. Essentially, the more tail vertebrae a Maine Coon has, the longer its tail will be.

Do Maine Coons have the longest tails?

In 2017, a silver tabby Maine Coon was entered into the Guinness World Records as having the longest tail in the history of domestic cats. His name was Cygnus Regulus Powers and his prized appendage measured 17.58 inches (44.66 cm).

However, Maine Coons are not the only cats with long tails. They are in competition with other breeds including Ragdolls, Siberian, Turkish Angora, and Bengals

Do all Maine Coons have long tails?

Though they vary in length from one cat to another, all Maine Coons tails are lengthy by the time they are fully grown.

Maine Coons have two tail lengths: long and very long. To demonstrate this, I’ve measured the tails of our four Maine Coons. Here are the results:

Maine CoonAgeTail lengthFluff length
Rosie2.5 years15 inches (38 cm)4 inches (10 cm)
Mona2.5 years13 inches (33 cm)3 inches (7.5 cm)
Fred14 months14 inches (35 cm)2.5 inches (6 cm)
Oscar14 months15.5 inches (39 cm)4 inches (10 cm)

As you can see the shortest tail amongst our Maine Coons belongs to Mona. She happens to be the smallest in height too.

Four Maine Coons with different-sized long, fluffy tails.

It is logical to assume that the larger a Maine Coon is, the longer its tail will be. This is not the case and is verified by Oscar, who is the second smallest of our Maine Coons yet has the longest tail at 15.5 inches.

Are all Maine Coon tails fluffy?

Maine Coon kittens often have shorter fur on their tails but by the time they are one year old, all Maine Coons have super fluffy tails. Just as Maine Coon tail lengths vary so does their fluffiness.

Comparing our four Maine Coons (again), Oscar and Rosie have extra fluffy tails whereas Mona and Fred have slightly less fluff to strut.

Maine Coon tail issues

Because of their length and fluffy nature, Maine Coon tails are easier to injure. These are a few issues that can occur:

Fractured or dislocated tails

If your Maine Coon is dragging its tail limply on the floor, there is a possibility that it is broken or dislocated. This type of injury can occur in several ways:

  • If closed in a slamming door
  • If hit by a vehicle
  • If trodden on

One of our previous Maine Coons, Charlie (below), broke his tail and we never knew how. We waited 3 months and he regained the feeling in two-thirds of the length.

For his own safety, and at our vet’s recommendation, one-third was amputated and after that, Charlie never showed any sign of missing it. Once the fluff re-grew you could hardly tell the difference in length.

A white Maine Coon who had to have half of his long tail amputated after it was broken.
Charlie after part of his tail had to be removed

Tail Avulsion

Avulsion occurs when two caudal vertebrae in a Maine Coon’s tail become separated from each other. This commonly occurs when a cat is pulled by its tail or if a cat traps its tail and pulls hard to free it.

Young children grab cat’s tails in play, and I’ve even seen an adult attempt to stop a cat from escaping by grasping it by the tail.

This is a very easy way to seriously injure a cat. Once the caudal vertebrae part company, they can’t be repaired, resulting in loss of movement from that point towards the tail tip. In worse cases, a cat can lose bladder and bowel control.

It is paramount to never grab a cat by its tail. A Maine Coon’s tail is long and it is tempting to try to stop it running by grasping it by the tail.

Abcess from a bite

If a cat is bitten by another cat on the lower part of its back or on its tail, an abscess can form which often causes the tail to droop.

A vet will confirm if this is the case and prescribe antibiotics. Again, we experienced this with our Maine Coon Harry. He had a nasty infection but once it had cleared up his tail was back to its full glory (below).

A red Maine Coon with one of the fluffiest, long tails.
Harry showing off his sail tail

Stud tail

You may have heard the term stud tail. It’s used to describe a dark, oily patch that develops on top of the base of a Maine Coon’s (or any cat’s) tail.

The condition primarily occurs in intact, male cats, hence the name, it can occur in neutered males and females too.

Stud tail is similar to acne and is often hormonal. Basically, excess oil is produced by sebaceous glands, blackheads can occur and it can cause some discomfort.

If it persists, let a vet examine your cat in order to prescribe the best course of treatment – it’s wise to seek medical help before an infection has a chance to set in.


Cat’s mutilate their own tails for many reasons. Gnawing incessantly at parasites or trying to relieve itchy skin are just two. This leads to all hair being stripped away, leaving bald patches and often sore skin.

Check your Maine Coon for fleas regularly, use a prescribed flea treatment and have a vet check out any persistent fur removal, from the tail, or any other areas.

Various things can irritate a cat’s skin from allergies to an imbalanced diet.

In summary: Are Maine Coons tails always long?

It’s true to say Maine Coons always have long tails. Including fluff, you might even see some measuring 18 inches.

Of course, like their size in general, Maine Coon tail length and fluff length varies, but as a rule, they are longer than the average household cat.

Younger Maine Coons can take a while to develop their tails, but they get there eventually.

Maine Coon tails need to be taken great care of as their length makes them easier to injure.

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