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What is a Ringtail Cat

Dive into the secretive life of the Ringtail Cat (Bassariscus astutus), a nocturnal and elusive creature often overshadowed by its more famous relatives. With its striking tail and agile movements, the Ringtail Cat is a captivating subject for those interested in the lesser-known members of the animal kingdom.

Ringtail Cat

Ringtail Cat Overview

The Ringtail Cat, also known as the Ringtail, is not actually a cat but a small carnivore related to raccoons and coatis. It’s known for its agility, distinctive markings, and ringed tail.


  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Procyonidae
  • Genus: Bassariscus
  • Species: B. astutus

Size and Body Description

Ringtail Cats are small, slender animals, about 24 to 32 inches long, including their tail. They weigh between 1.5 to 3.3 pounds. Their most notable feature is their long, bushy tail with 14-16 black and white rings.


24 to 32 inches (including tail)


Ringtail Cats breed once a year, usually in the spring. The female gives birth to a litter of 2-4 young after a gestation period of about 45-50 days.


They are omnivorous but mainly carnivorous, feeding on small mammals, birds, insects, and fruit.

How Long Do Ringtail Cats Live

In the wild, their lifespan is about 7 years, though this can vary based on environmental factors.

Where Found

Ringtail Cats are found in the southwestern United States, Mexico, and some parts of Central America.

Habitat and Range

They prefer rocky desert habitats and wooded areas. In the southwestern U.S., they are often found in arid landscapes, utilizing rocky outcrops and canyons as shelter.


Currently, Ringtail Cats are not listed as endangered or vulnerable. However, habitat destruction and human disturbance are potential threats.

In conclusion, the Ringtail Cat is a unique and fascinating creature, thriving in the diverse landscapes of the southwestern U.S. and beyond. Its nocturnal habits and elusive nature make it a less-known yet important part of its ecosystem, highlighting the need for continued research and conservation efforts.