The shape of a cats tail varies greatly between species and the tails we see today are the product of a long and complex evolutionary history. As with many species in the animal kingdom a small wild cats morphology, or physical traits, have been affected by millions of years of natural selection and the differences today can be associated to the different conditions these cats live in to hunt and find a mate.
Pallas cats are native to the steppe regions of Central Asia, where they inhabit elevations of up to 5,000m. Their tails are long, fluffy and extremely lightweight perfect for covering nose and paws from cold winds and freezing conditions. This can also be said of the Andean Mountain cat who lives in a similar environment high in the Andes.
Like most arboreal cats Margays and Clouded leopards have long and muscular tails that assist with balance when moving around in trees. As they leap about in the canopy the tail is used as a counterweight helping them move effortlessly from branch to branch.
On the other end of the spectrum Bobcats have very small tails. They do however have big paws this helps them hunt for prey in deep snow, having no need for a tail we can see over time it’s gotten smaller and smaller. Lynx’s also share this trait.
Asiatic golden cats and African golden cats also have long muscular tails. Due to a lack of research we are unsure why but being predominantly land hunters maybe the tail is used as a rudder for changing direction quickly much like a cheetah, aiding their stalk and rush hunting method.