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This page is for your information only.
We do not breed Fennec Foxes.

Click here for Ringtail Cat pictures.

Scientific name - Bassariscus astutus

The Ringtail cat is not a true cat, but the smallest member of the Procyonids, the raccoon family. The Ringtails cousins are: Giant Pandas, Raccoons, Coatimundi, Red Pandas, Kinkajou and its larger look-alike cousin, the Central American Cacomistle. The Ringtail cat and the Cacomistle are often mistaken.

The Ringtail cat ranges from southern Mexico to the United States. In the US the Ringtail ranges across 13 different states, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas and Louisiana. The Cacomistle (Bassaraous sumichrasti) ranges throughout Central America. The Cacomistle is slightly larger than the Ringtail cat. Only the Cacomistle is listed on CITES, Appendix III.

The beautiful and graceful Ringtail cat was once used in the early American West as a companion and mouser to the prospectors in their camps, thus the name, miners cat.

The Ringtail cat is about the size of a small house cat, with shorter legs. They are lithe in body, fox-like in face, large ears and a long, beautiful, raccoon-like tail, which is banded with 14-16 alternating black and white rings. They also have an incredible hindfoot that can rotate up to 180 degrees, which enables them to descend, face down, almost any surface very quickly. For climbing they use their semi-retractable claws.

In the wild, the Ringtail cat prefers to inhabit dry rocky areas, such as rock piles and canyon walls. Occasionally they inhabit woodland areas, where they live in hollow trees and logs. Since the Ringtail is such an adept climber at ascending and descending vertical walls, they have little difficulty searching out and denning well protected crevices.

The Ringtail cat is primarily nocturnal in the wild, spending most of the day sleeping in their den and venturing out early evening/night to search for food. Their diet, in the wild, consists of a wide range of food, such as: small birds, small mammals, carrion, reptiles, insects and fruits from the native plants.


These endearing animals, when bottle-raised, make wonderful, loving pets that are full of curiosity and playfulness. Even a wild caught animal, due to its extreme curiosity and gentle nature has been known to tame down.

Ringtail cats, with some patience, can be harness and leash trained. See "HARNESS & LEASH" below.

Ringtail cats have been known to live 15 years in captivity.


A Ringtail cat can be left with the freedom of the house. A couple of words of caution though: First, keep your windows and doors closed, at the very least use very good screens. If your Ringtail does escape, re-capturing it may be nearly impossible. Unlike a domestic cat or dog, once a Ringtail gets outside, its natural instincts may take over, making it very difficult to find let alone catch. Second, there is no such thing as "putting something out of reach". With the Ringtails ability to climb, it will be checking out your bookshelves, fine china and anything else that it can get into.

We recommend that your Ringtail has a place to call its own, a large cat cage, with shelves and a box or hooded cat bed to sleep in, will do. It is a good idea to keep the Ringtail in its "home" when you can't be there to supervise it and when it is sleeping. This way your Ringtail can't get into mischief, mischief that could be harmful to the Ringtail or to your "stuff". Plus, the Ringtails home is his safe place to go when it feels uncomfortable or it just wants to have a nap.


Ringtail cats are extremely clean animals. They carefully wash themselves with cat-like maneuvers. They also tend to pick one area to go to the bathroom, so litter box training is relatively easy. You can use a cat pan and litter for your Ringtail. Avoid using clumping litter, as it tends to stick to their feet and they may ingest it while they are washing.

You can offer toys to your Ringtail. Cat and ferret toys are great, especially ones that can be pounced on. We have found that our Ringtails also like the sisal cat toys (including the hanging ones), as they like to take the toys apart.


With some patience, you can train your Ringtail to a harness & leash. Start off by introducing the harness, let the Ringtail get used to the smell and feel of it. Then, try putting it on the Ringtail, all the while reassuring it. Once you have the harness on the Ringtail, let it run around for a while, so it gets used to wearing it. At the same time you will be able to tell if the harness is fitting properly. Only let the Ringtail wear the harness under supervision, otherwise it could get caught on something and get hurt. Put the harness on the Ringtail on a regular basis, this way it will become comfortable wearing it. Once your Ringtail is comfortable with the harness, try putting on the leash. Gently control your Ringtail to start with, as it gets used to the limitations of the leash you can increase your control.

Don't try to take your Ringtail outside until it is completely comfortable with the harness and its limitations of the leash.

You can take your Ringtail outside, with the following words of caution: Harness and leash are great, but only if you are in a safe quiet location. A Ringtail, when startled, will run to and climb to the highest and safest place they can find. Due to this natural instinct, it is recommended that you use a carrier for your Ringtail whenever you go out, especially if you are going to an unfamiliar place for the Ringtail. It's better to be safe than sorry.

Some people do take their Ringtails outside without any restraint. This can be done, but remember that Murphy's Law may hit at any time. A dog, eagle, car horn or any number of things could scare your Ringtail into running for cover and cover may not be you or your house.


The Ringtail cats diet in captivity is relatively easy. They can be fed cooked chicken, fresh fruit, mealworms, crickets, and even the occasional mouse (if you can stomach it). They should also be fed, free choice, Mazuri Omnivore dry diet. Dog food and Cat food are not recommended for the Ringtails. Ringtails are prone to obesity when fed dog food or cat food. Fresh clean water is a must, just like any other animal.


It is recommended that you find a good Veterinarian and you set up a schedule with the Veterinarian for checkups and vaccine.
The vaccines currently recommended are: killed feline panleukopenia vaccines, killed rabies, MLV Onderstepoort strain vaccine or Galaxy 6 vaccine. Recently many zoo's and Veterinarians have been using avian cell line vaccines. Talk to your Veterinarian about vaccines and de-worming.

Click here for Ringtail Cat pictures.




© Petite Paws Exotics
Last updated February 2009