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American Bobtail

American Bobtail

Place of origin

Western United States


Cats with shortened tails appear regularly in feral populations around the world. Among their ranks is the American Bobtail, a true born-in-America breed with a bobcatlike appearance but absolutely no genetic link to its wild namesake or to the short-tailed lynx. Nor is the American Bobtail mutation related to the Manx mutation. Researchers believe the bobtail has been around for several generations in the United States. In a 1940 book, zoologist Ida Mellen described the "American Domestic Bobtail Cat of the New England and Middle Atlantic States," although nothing more was said of these cats.

The American Bobtail traces its ancestry to a bobtailed male tabby cat named Yodi, discovered in the 1960s by a couple vacationing in Arizona. The couple took him home and mated him to their sealpoint (Siamese pattern) nonpedigree female, which resulted in short-tailed kittens and a new breed.

At first, breeders mated American Bobtails with colorpoint cats such as Birmans and Himalayans. This led to a myth that the breed resulted from male bobcats mating with female Siamese cats. This original emphasis on a short-tailed, pointed, longhaired cat with white mittens and a white face blaze led to inbreeding and to smaller, less healthy cats. In the 1980s, random-bred bobtailed domestic cats were used to restore the breed's vigor and create a wider variety of colors, as well as both shorthaired and semi-longhaired varieties.

The American Bobtail was recognized by TICA in 1989 and later by the CFA, but remains rare in the United States, having been eclipsed by the Pixiebob. To avoid mixing up different mutations, the American Bobtail is never bred with either the Manx or the Japanese Bobtail.

Physical description

American Bobtails are a sturdy and substantial breed occurring as both shorthairs and as shaggier semi-longhair varieties. A show-quality American Bobtail should have a powder puff tail up to one-third normal length. Kittens with much shorter or with longer, kinked tails sometimes occur as a result of using random-bred bobtails to rescue the breed in the 1980s. American Bobtails can have any eye color and any color and pattern of fur, although the modern preference is for a "wild" tabby appearance that gives the impression of a bobcat. A lynxlike ruff, tufted toes, and tufted ears are desirable and add to the wild look.

Colors and varieties

The American Bobtail is recognized in any color and any pattern. The use of random-bred cats has produced a very wide palette of colors. The American Bobtail has been developed in longhaired and shorthaired varieties. Longhaired cats develop "mutton chops" on their cheeks.


Playful, sometimes mischievous, American Bobtails make excellent family companions. They are intelligent, gentle cats who are adaptable and amenable to training and are often described as having doglike personalities.

Activity level


Vocal level

Moderate; they chirp and "talk" to their family but are not demanding.

Special needs



Sno-Bob is the name given to a color variety of American Bobtail bred to resemble the Alaskan bobcat, being pale in color with darker eartips and a darker bobtail. There are a number of unrelated bobtailed American breeds at various stages of development, including the Alpine Lynx, the Desert Lynx, the Highland Lynx, Owyhee Bob, and the Tennessee Bobtail. The American Ringtail breed is being developed to preserve a trait occasionally found in feral populations, in which the cat carries her tail in a curl over her back.

Sealpoint American Bobtail

From The Cat Bible, Copyright by Sandy Robins, licensed through ContentOro, Inc and used by arrangement with I-5 Press

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