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American Bobtail Breed Description

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American Bobtail Breed Description

American Bobtail Cat | Breed History | Breed Description

Anyone who has researched the American Bobtail already knows the story of “Yodie”, the feral brown tabby kitten with a bobbed tail found on an Indian Reservation in Southern Arizona. That was back in the 1960’s. And while bobtailed kittens had been around for generations, familiar to both early settlers and Native Americans, it was the adoption of Yodie and his subsequent breeding to a domestic Siamese that eventually lead to the drafting of the first breed standard for the American Bobtail.

Since the first written standard in 1970, outcrossings and simultaneous breedings throughout North America of feral, naturally short-tailed cats occurred, and the standard changed to include new colors and pattern variations. Having withstood rocky beginnings as a breed, the American Bobtail was accepted by The International Cat Association (TICA) in 1989 as a New Breed.


While recognition by other associations such as ACFA (American Cat Fanciers Association) and International Cat Exhibitors (ICE) has since transpired, the American Bobtail Breeders Association is currently aiming for status as a new breed with the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA). To that end, the American Bobtail was exhibited at the 1999 February Annual for CFA as an upcoming new breed. On February 6th of 2000 the American Bobtail was recognized by the CFA at their semi-annual meeting in Houston as a new breed!

Where the bobtail came from is not known. The decidedly wild appearance of the American Bobtail brown tabby, complete with cheek fuzz and ear tips, combined with feral beginnings, lends one to speculate about its origin and compare it to the wild bobcat or lynx. Yet DNA tests have been unsuccessful in providing any genetic link to these wild cats and the American Bobtail is considered to be a totally domestic creature, not a hybrid of any kind.

The length of the tail of the American Bobtail is a small yet still puzzling part of this cat. Whether it gets its naturally shortened tail from the same dominant gene which controls the Manx, the gene which endows the Japanese Bobtail, similar genetics that give the wild bobcat its shortened tail, or if it’s a different gene factor altogether, has not yet been established. It is known that the gene produces variations of shortened tails, from no tails (rumpies) to stumpy tails (risers), to half length tails. Breeders of the American Bobtail are, in their ongoing development of the breed, gathering data in an attempt to identify some genetic pattern.

Aside from its shortened tail, its elongated rectangular and athletic body, its naturally large feet (the polydactyl gene which produces extra toes in a cat is not permitted in the American Bobtail standard), its cheeks which sport a familiar ruff , and its lynx tipped ears, the American Bobtail is a magnificent creature in personality as well. To watch a Bobtail, muscles rippling, spring into action after some prey (either imaginary or real) is thrilling and awe inspiring. But to then have this same creature, with all the prowess that Mother Nature has bestowed to enable it to survive the wild, crawl onto your lap and purr quietly is the icing on the cake!

When you watch a Bobtail walk, you will immediately notice that its hind quarters are slightly higher than its shoulders. This “jacked-up Chevy” look contributes to the American Bobtail’s hunting appearance. When you pick up a full grown male (who averages in the neighborhood of 20 pounds) you will immediately be impressed with the muscle tone and strength that this cat possesses. And yet he will lean into you with his fuzzy cheeks and politely expect a rub.

The American Bobtail is a slow maturing breed, taking up to three years to satisfy its physical destiny. They are a low maintenance cat, with thick, double coats which are resilient both in the short haired or medium haired versions. The traditional brown tabby or the colored lynx point are the most popular color and pattern choices for those owners looking for a wild appearance.

The American Bobtail is a loyal and loving creature with above average intelligence. These easily trained cats have adaptable and warm personalities, are social with people, children and other pets. American Bobtail queens will readily adopt the kittens of another queen without fuss and rear them as their own. They have a distinctive vocabulary of chirps and yet are not a noisy or overly talkative cat. They learn their names, come when called and will run to greet you when you come through the door. A favorite game of the American Bobtail is fetch and while they are fun loving and frisky, they are neither overactive or destructive.

Since its humble and feral beginnings, the American Bobtail has developed to the point where today’s breeders have multi generation pedigree stock and no longer require the use of feral cats, although outcrosses are still permissible with a natural short-tailed domestic cat of non-pedigree background.

Though not yet widely recognized, by continued development and nurturing by a dedicated group of breeders, the American Bobtail is well on its way to becoming a familiar and favorite breed!