Do Inbred Cats Have Crooked Tails?

Inbreeding in cats refers to the mating of closely related cats, such as siblings or parents and offspring. It occurs both naturally in feral cat colonies and intentionally in some purebred cat breeding programs. While inbreeding has historically been common in cats, there is a myth that it causes crooked or kinked tails.

Some people believe that when cats inbreed, their offspring are born with crooked or bent tails. However, there is no direct evidence that inbreeding alone leads to bent tails in cats. The real causes of crooked tails are more complex.

Background on Cat Inbreeding

Inbreeding is the mating of closely related cats, such as between siblings or parents and offspring. It has been practiced in pedigree cat breeding to develop and preserve desirable qualities within certain bloodlines. Breeders may intentionally inbreed cats when trying to establish new breeds or strengthen existing breed traits (Casal, 2022).

However, inbreeding comes with health risks. As closely related cats are mated over multiple generations, harmful recessive genes can become expressed. According to one study, excessive inbreeding in cats is associated with decreased fertility, smaller litter sizes, increased neonatal mortality, and physical defects (Casal, 2022). Problems like crooked tails, misaligned jaws, and abnormal eye set have been observed in highly inbred cats.

Therefore, while some controlled linebreeding can help develop desired traits, excessive inbreeding significantly raises the chances of genetic abnormalities and should be avoided.

Tail Anatomy in Cats

The tail is an extension of a cat’s spine and is made up of vertebrae, muscles, blood vessels, and nerves1. It serves several important functions for balance, communication, and temperature regulation.

Cats use their tails to aid in balance and prevent falls when jumping or walking along narrow surfaces. The tail moves as a counterbalance to shifts in the cat’s weight distribution2. Cats also use their tails to communicate their mood and intentions through position and movement.

A cat’s tail shape is determined by genetics. Mutations in genes that control tail development can lead to shortened, kinked, or even absent tails. The Manx gene is responsible for short or missing tails, while other genes cause kinks and curls1. However, not all crooked tails are caused by genetics.

No Direct Link Between Inbreeding and Crooked Tails

There is no direct correlation between inbreeding and crooked tails in cats. While inbreeding can increase the chances of certain genetic defects, it does not specifically cause crooked or kinked tails (source). Tail shape and structure are complex genetic traits influenced by multiple genes. Research shows tail development involves genes like T, WNT3A, and FGF8 (source). Mutations in these genes can disrupt normal tail growth, but these mutations can occur even without inbreeding.

Inbred cats may show an increased rate of genetic anomalies overall, but crooked tails specifically do not directly result from inbreeding. The tail shape of kittens is determined by the interplay of many genetic and developmental factors. While inbreeding allows expression of recessive traits, a crooked tail is not a guaranteed outcome of close breeding in cats. Environmental influences in the womb may also impact tail shape. Overall, there is no scientific evidence definitively linking inbred lineage alone to crooked tails in cats.

Inbreeding Can Increase Risk of Other Defects

While inbreeding does not directly cause crooked tails in cats, it can increase the risk of other physical defects. Some common issues seen more often in inbred cats include:

Congenital heart and lung defects – One study found that inbred cats were more likely to be born with abnormalities in heart structure and function (source).

Facial deformities – Inbred kittens may show crooked noses, misaligned jaws, or abnormal eye placement (source). The risk increases with tighter inbreeding between closely related cats.

Small litter size – Excessive inbreeding often leads to smaller litters of only 1-2 kittens. Non-inbred cats average 3-5 kittens per litter (source).

While inbred cats can appear normal, the chances of inheriting defective genes rises with inbreeding. Care should be taken to outcross and expand the gene pool when breeding cats.

Environmental Factors on Tail Shape

A cat’s tail can become crooked or bent due to environmental factors that impact development and growth. Two key factors are damage from injury or poor nutrition and limited space in the womb.

Injuries to a kitten or cat’s tail, either from accidents or trauma, can cause the bones in the tail to heal improperly and create a crooked or bent shape. Additionally, poor nutrition, especially lack of proteins and vitamins during growth periods, can lead to bone and cartilage abnormalities that affect tail shape.

Limited space in the womb is another factor. If a kitten does not have adequate room to move and grow in utero, this can put pressure on or constrain the tail, leading to impaired development. Kittens from large litters are more prone to crooked tails for this reason. The restricted space causes the cartilage in the tail to develop abnormally before birth.

While inbreeding itself does not directly cause crooked tails in cats, the potential for nutritional deficits and birth defects does increase with inbreeding. So inbred kittens may experience higher rates of bent tails due to these environmental factors.

Proper care and nutrition for a pregnant cat and her kittens can help minimize bent tails. Providing expectant mothers with adequate protein, vitamins, and minerals supports proper bone growth. Reducing litter sizes also lowers risks from cramped conditions in utero. However, some crooked tails may occur regardless due to random chance and variability.

Breeds Prone to Crooked Tails

While any breed of cat can potentially develop a crooked or kinked tail, there are two specific breeds that are known for their curled tails as a distinguishing feature: Manx and Japanese Bobtail cats.

Manx cats originate from the Isle of Man and are best known for their naturally short or missing tails. This is caused by a genetic mutation that affects tail development, resulting in anything from a complete lack of a tail to a short stubby tail. According to TheCatSite, even when Manx cats have partial tails, they tend to be kinked or curled.

Japanese Bobtails also exhibit a curled or kinked tail, but for different genetic reasons. Their tails are unique in that they are flexible and can be moved into different positions. The genes that cause this not only affect the tail but also the rest of the spinal column, leading to the signature crooked tail that curls upright, according to Quora. The curl varies from cat to cat.

So while all cats can potentially have curled tails, the signature corkscrew or kinked tails are most common in the Manx and Japanese Bobtail breeds due to their unique genetics affecting tail development.

Avoiding Inbreeding in Cats

There are several ways cat owners can prevent inbreeding and reduce the risks of genetic defects:

If breeding cats, it is essential to select unrelated cats from different lines and backgrounds to maintain genetic diversity. Reputable breeders carefully document pedigrees and do not allow brother-sister, parent-offspring, or other close relative pairings (Source). Maintaining detailed records and genetic testing helps responsible breeders avoid inbreeding.

For household cats, the best way to avoid accidental inbreeding is to spay and neuter any cats not intended for ethical, selective breeding. Sterilizing cats eliminates mating urges and the risk of surprise litters between closely related cats (Source).

When adopting new cats, choose unrelated felines from different litters and lineages. Adopting littermates should be avoided as they are very closely related. Doing a background check on pedigree can help determine if two cats share relatives.

Overall, following ethical breeding practices, sterilizing non-breeding pets, and adopting unrelated cats are key steps all owners should take to reduce the chances of inbreeding and associated health risks in cats.

Caring for Cats With Crooked Tails

In most cases, cats with crooked tails do not require any special care. The crooked tail itself is usually just a cosmetic issue and does not cause the cat discomfort or impact their health. However, some underlying conditions can potentially cause a crooked tail, so it’s important to have a veterinarian examine the cat to check for any related health problems.

According to veterinarian Dr. Marie on, “Many cats are born with crooked tails and they live perfectly normal lives.” She advises to simply “keep an eye on the area in case it becomes red, swollen or painful.” Treat any wound care per the vet’s recommendations.

If the crooked tail was caused by an injury, the vet may suggest splinting or bandaging the tail temporarily to help it heal straight. But this is not always necessary. Most crooked tails in cats do not require any intervention.

Ensure the cat’s litter box has low sides for easy entry/exit if tail mobility is impaired. Provide ramps and limit jump heights to accommodate limited tail balance. Otherwise, love and care for a cat with a crooked tail just as you would any feline friend.


In summary, there is no direct link between inbred cats and crooked tails. While inbreeding can increase the likelihood of genetic defects, crooked tails are not inherently caused by inbreeding itself. There are many complex factors that contribute to tail shape and position in cats, including breed, environment, injury, and genetics. Simply being inbred does not predetermine a cat to having a crooked tail.

However, responsible breeding practices remain important for cat health and reducing birth defects. Breeders should aim for genetic diversity and avoid close inbreeding between siblings or parents and offspring. For any cats with crooked tails, whether inbred or not, proper veterinary care and owner acceptance is advised to ensure the cat lives a happy life.

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