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Who Is the Cat With the Longest Tail in the World? Record, Facts & Care Tips

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

maine coon cat with large fluffy tail walking on grass

Known for their wits, agility, and incredible hunting skills, cats are also the epitome of cute and cuddly. They truly are in a class of their own! Then we have one-of-a-kind kitties that set world records by jumping higher, running faster, and purring louder. And today, we want to introduce you to Altair Cygnus, the cat that rocks the longest tail in the Feline Kingdom.

We’ll also talk about Cygnus Regulus—the kitty that holds the all-time record—the incredible Powers family that raised these amazing cats, and more. So, just how big is Altair’s tail? What kind of food does it guzzle on to achieve such incredible results? And lastly, why do cats need tails? Let’s find out!

Altair Powers: The Kitty With the Longest Tail Currently Alive

Born and bred in the United States (Farmington Hills, Michigan), Altair is a beautiful Maine Coon with a fluffy coat, perky ears, and a kind, loving heart. In 2021 (October 25), this cat set a new Guinness World Record with its 16.07-inch tail1. In centimeters, that’s a little shy of 41 cm (40.83). And, to this day, Altair Cygnus Powers—this lovely feline’s full name—hasn’t yet been challenged.

The extraordinarily long tail does present certain challenges, though, especially when Altair tries to sneak into tight spaces. After all, that tail is longer than his entire body! It’s fluffy, too, and looks gorgeous from every angle. A close relative of Cygnus Regulus, another record-breaking Powers cat, this fur baby had all the right genes and motivation to carry on the fine traditions.

Is This an Affectionate Cat? What Kind of Food Does It Like?

The short answer is yes! Altair is a sweet-tempered, welcoming, and curious cat. He spends most of his time at home and loves to play with a piece of wire cardboard toy. But, as an important member of the feline community, he’s often seen attending various events (he’s a bit spooky but loves to go out sometimes). And it goes without saying that in Farmington Hills, Altair is a celebrity!

As for the meals and snacks, the champ’s diet is specifically tailored to his needs and includes lots of protein. Dr. William John Powers, his human parent, took care of that part. True, a cat with the longest tail doesn’t have to eat nearly as much food as the tallest or heaviest kitty, but the diet still played an important role in his triumph.


Cygnus Powers: The Cat With the Longest Tail in History

Altair is the cat with the longest tail among the living, but what about the all-time record? Meet Cygnus Powers, the proud owner of the longest domestic cat tail ever. This silver Maine Coon was Altair’s brother, and his tail measured 17.58 inches or 44.66 centimeters. Just like Altair, he’s had lots of “tail trouble”, like getting it tangled up, dipping the tail into a puddle, and struggling to fit in tiny boxes.

Will and Lauren, his pet parents, had to be super careful not to hurt the fluffy boy, especially when opening and closing doors. Cygnus was a socially active cat, by the way. The Powers own an animal shelter in Michigan, and they used to offer local cat fans free selfies with the champ for small donations to the cause.

A Horrible Fire That Took the Lives of Two Cats

On November 12, 2017, the Powers house was caught on fire. And, unfortunately, this marvel of a cat couldn’t be saved. He died along with his sibling, Arcturus (we’ll talk about him in a moment). Will and his wife weren’t injured, but these two trailblazers didn’t make it. Both cats were adopted in 2015 and had been fluffy members of the family for two short years.


Fenrir and Arcturus: More Record Breakers From the Powers Family

Two record-setting domestic cats hailing from the same house is not something we see every day. But, as it turns out, Altair and Cygnus aren’t the only chart-toppers from the Powers family! Back in 2021 (January 29), Fenrir, an 18.83-inch tall (47.83 cm) Savannah cat officially became the tallest cat in the world2. Yes, he was also raised by Dr. Powers and his wife, Lauren.

An F2 Savannah cat, Fenrir got these amazing genes from his Serval ancestors. To put things into perspective, Savannah cats are usually 14–15 inches tall. Right now, his brother, Arcturus, is recognized as the tallest pet cat on record (19.05 inches/48.4cm), which makes him the fourth Guinness title holder in the family. And, after Arcturus was lost to the 2017 fire, Fenrir took his place.

Which Cat Breeds Have the Longest Tails? Breaking It Down

Every single kitty is different. Some are big and heavy, while others are slim and agile. As for the cats with the longest tails, the American Shorthair, Balinese, Chartreux, and Cornish Rex breeds are your best picks. Maine Coons and Savannah cats are on the list as well, of course.

Here’s a quick look at the top 10 breeds:
  • American Shorthair
  • Balinese
  • Chartreux
  • Cornish Rex
  • Egyptian Mau
  • Maine Coon
  • Nebelung
  • Savannah
  • Scottish Fold
  • Siberian cat

And What about the Breeds With No Tail at All?

This might come as a surprise, but some cats have extremely short tails. The most popular breeds include the American, Japanese, Kurilian, and Karelian Bobtails. These are generally healthy, lively cats, but their tails are, indeed, short. The scientific term for that is a natural bobtail, and it’s the result of genetic mutations over multiple generations (most likely, caused by inbreeding).

Depending on the severity of the genes, the cat may have no tail at all! The Cymric and short-haired Mynx are just like that. And when the tail is amputated intentionally, that’s called docking. It mostly refers to dogs but applies to cats as well (bobbing). The most common reason for removing an animal’s tail is to avoid injuries, alleviate pain, or stop a disease from spreading.

Why Do Cats Have Tails?

For our feline buds, the tail is more than just a fancy hindmost part. Cats need their tails to balance the rest of the body, communicate, mark the territory, and keep warm during cold days. Kitties use techniques like thumping, thrashing, quivering, twitching, and puffing to express a wide range of emotions. We’re talking about anger, content, happiness, surprise, and suspicion, to name a few.

And when a cat wraps its tail around your legs, that means the fur baby is greeting you, while the question mark tail indicates the cat wants to play/have fun. As for the balancing part, most cats have rather long tails, and they help them stay on their feet when walking on fences, shelves, cabinets, and rooftops, serving as a counterbalance.

closeup of a curled cat's tail
Photo Credit: olivier.laurent.photos, Shutterstock

Fun Facts About Cats and Their Tails

Domestic cats are the only felines on the planet that walk with their tails up. Lions, tigers, and other giant cats can’t do that. Next, just like dogs, kitties like to wag their tails. For example, short, quick flicks mean the pet is excited about something, while a low-to-the-ground tail is a clear sign of anger, irritation, and fear. A cat’s tail has a complex structure and consists of nerves, blood vessels, muscles, and bones.

Lastly, our fur babies are big fans of playing with their own tails. We’ve all seen the funny videos where a cat is startled by its own tail and starts throwing punches at it. This mostly applies to kittens (they do that to hone their hunting skills and stay sharp), but adult felines are “caught in the act” as well sometimes.

Taking Care of a Cat’s Tail: A Quick Guide

Cats have an incredible level of control over their bodies (including the tail). That’s why they rarely get injured while climbing tall trees, squeezing into tight spots, or doing long jumps. However, if the cat is attacked by a dog, run over by a car, or slammed by a door, its tail will get injured. Sharp surfaces, self-inflicted bites, and nerve damage can also cause injuries.

Minor damage like a tiny cut or bruise won’t require medical attention. Just clean the injury with mild soap to avoid infections, apply an antibiotic cream, bandage it (not too tightly), and don’t forget to change the bandage and add a new layer of antibiotic ointment every 24 hours. But if the bone is broken or the cat seems to be in pain, take it to a vet clinic ASAP.

Here’s a closer look at the most common types (and causes) of tail injuries:
  • Abrasions (minor cuts, caused by wire fencing, a sharp rock, a piece of glass, or when the tail is caught under something heavy)
  • Lacerations (deep cuts, often inflicted by the cat due to trouble with its anal glands, allergies, or behavioral issues)
  • Fractured tail (a broken bone, the result of a slammed door, a bad fall from height, or a car/bike hit)
  • Nerve damage (occurs when the tail is pulled. Depending on the severity, the spinal cord may also be affected)

Conclusion

To make it into the Guinness Records, a cat has to be more than just cute, cuddly, or playful. It needs to have something unique to offer to the world. Altair Powers is a great example of a cat with a unique talent. Just like Cygnus Powers back in his prime, this Maine Coon is the proud owner of the longest cat tail on the planet.

As we learned today, these felines are siblings, and they were brought up by the same owners (William and Lauren Powers). Now, a lush tail like that requires extra maintenance, including regular grooming, expensive care products, and premium-quality food. But, at the end of the day, it’s all worth it!


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