Ringtail Cat

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Jerry Kirkhart

Is this exotic mammal right for you?

Other name(s): Ring-tailed Cat, Miner’s Cat, North American Ringtail Cat, Cacomistle

Scientific name: Bassariscus astutus

The basics:
Not related to cats, the Ringtail Cat is a member of the raccoon family. Its natural habitat includes the rocky semi-arid regions of southwest USA and the Great Basin Desert as well as the coniferous forests of California and Oregon. The Ringtail Cat is the State Mammal of Arizona.

Appearance / health:
The Ringtail Cat has a sleek and robust body with a tan to dark brown body that averages a total length of 2-3 feet. The eyes are large, purplish, and surrounded by light, dark-edged fur that gives it a mask-like marking. The ears are large, grayish brown with white edges. The long bushy tail (sometimes longer in length than the body) has prominent black and white bands. The snout is elongated and pointed.

Ringtail Cats are becoming popular as pets because they are docile and easy to tame. They are active at night and enjoy scampering about, moving up and down branches and other vertical structures. They are agile and can traverse narrow passages and steep inclines. They are able to rotate their limbs and balance with their tails. Like many nocturnal mammals, Ringtail Cats vocalize with hisses, grunts, growls, squeaks, chirps, and other unusual sounds.

Ringtail Cats may be housed in the same manner as cats and dogs. They only require a nesting box to sleep in during the day (they are averse to sunlight). The box should have an entrance hole small enough for the Ringtail to pass through, and must be placed in a dark and relatively warm location. The Ringtail comes out, explores, and forages after dark. If kept in an enclosure, the cage should be large and equipped with sturdy branches, ledges, and different levels for the Ringtail Cat to climb and investigate.

Ringtail Cats appreciate a wide variety of foods, depending on the season of the year. Winter nutrition comes from small mammals and birds; fall foods include insects and various plants; summer diet is a combination of insects, berries, and cactus nectar.


great pets, affectionate pet


deep purple eyes, raccoon family, rodents

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