Ringtail Cats

The ringtail cat gets its name from the noticeable black rings around its tail. They are not actually related to cats; instead, they are members of the raccoon family.

Ringtail cats are able to climb quickly and easily thanks to their compact bodies, elongated muzzles and long tails, which aid in balance. They can perform cartwheels, rotate their hind feet a full 180 degrees and move rapidly down cliffs and even cacti. Ringtail cats can also descend through narrow passageways by pressing all four feet on one wall and their back against the other.

Most ringtail cats have brown to black fur around the eyes, creating a raccoon-like mask. They have grayish-brown ears with white edges and are typically between 2 to 3 feet in length. They have been known to make squeaking and chirping sounds, as well as hissing, grunting and growling noises.


Ringtail cats can be found throughout the southwestern United States and Mexico.


Ringtail cats eat a varied diet, which largely depends on the season and available resources. They’ve been known to eat mammals, birds, plants, insects and even plant nectar. They often fall prey to owls, coyotes, raccoons and bobcats.


Ringtail cats strongly dislike daylight and are almost entirely nocturnal. They usually live in rough, rocky areas close to a water source. They typically create their dens in the hollows of trees, rock crevices and abandoned burrows and buildings. They move often, and rarely spend more than three nights in a row in one place.