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    Place of origin

    Pacific Northwest, United States


    Cats with shortened tails appear regularly in feral populations around the world. In the United States, they are often inaccurately attributed to crosses between domestic cats and the wild bobcat. A number of breeds have been developed with the intention of capturing the appearance of this wild cat through selective breeding, as opposed to hybridization. Due to early divisiveness among breeders, two separate but equally successful programs came out from this vision: the Pixiebob, which was developed in a single color, similar to that of the wild bobcat, and the American Bobtail, which is bred in a range of colors, including pointed varieties.

    The Pixiebob breed began in 1985 and 1986 with two male cats-one a spotted polydactyl acquired in the Cascade Range of Washington State and the other a very large bobtailed classic tabby male reputedly sired by a bobcat. In 1986, the bobtailed male sired bobtailed kittens on a wild-looking brown-spotted female. One of the kittens was a female named Pixie who became a foundation cat in the Pixiebob breed. There was a belief in the region that bobcats and domestic cats sometimes interbred, and a number of bobcatty-looking cats from the Cascade Mountains were added to the breeding program. These purported hybrids became known as Legend Cats. DNA testing has since proven that Pixiebobs are not genetically related to bobcat.

    Around the same time, other breeders were also producing bobcatty-looking cats, and some of these became part of the developing Pixiebob breed. In 1993, TICA recognized the Pixiebob, which was considered a naturally occurring breed. To expand and diversify the gene pool, TICA had an open registry that allowed similar-looking cats to be registered as foundation cats. These included American Bobtail, Japanese Bobtail, Maine Coon, Manx, and spotted Chausie variants (Jungle Cat hybrids). All TICA Pixiebobs must be able to trace their ancestry back to Pixie through at least one parent. Currently, the Pixiebob is the only fully recognized breed in the United States that is permitted to have multiple toes.

    France first imported the Pixiebob in 2001, Britain in 2004. In Europe, Pixiebobs are registered with bodies affiliated with TICA. The Council of Europe's Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals legislation affects the Pixiebob. Bobtailed and kink-tailed cats, regardless of breed, must be examined by a veterinarian for both increased sensitivity to pain in the tail area and possible fused vertebrae before being allowed to breed. Polydactyly is described in the legislation as a semi-lethal gene (deferred lethal), and the legislation recommends entirely banning the breeding of polydactylous cats. The legislation does not distinguish between the benign "mitten foot"/"thumb cat" form and the potentially disabling radial hypoplasia form and thus bans all forms of polydactyly. In the United Kingdom, the GCCF currently bans polydactyly as a genetic defect.

    Physical description

    Pixiebobs are medium to large cats, with some males reaching 17 pounds (8 kg). Like many of the larger cat breeds, the Pixiebob matures slowly; some cats take three years to reach their full adult appearance. The breed has been developed in longhaired and shorthaired varieties and with polydactyly. A maximum of seven toes on a paw is permitted in the breed.

    The Pixiebob is a brown spotted tabby cat, with muted markings of small- to medium-sized spots and is selectively bred to resemble the North American bobcat. The heavy-browed, inverted Biblepear-shaped head and bobbed tail are, therefore, considered the most important characteristics. The deep-set golden-brown or gooseberry-green eyes, lynx-tufted ears, and muttonchops (especially in the longhair) all contribute to the wild appearance of this wholly domestic breed.

    The tail length varies from no tailed (equivalent to the Manx rumpy) through to long tailed, although TICA breed standards call for a bobbed tail 2-4 inches long, that is, no more than hock length. Pixiebob tails may contain knots or kinks. In the United States, long-tailed variants may have their tails docked to achieve the bobtailed look for pet owners. A naturally bobbed tail generally has a black tip and at least one black ring near the tip, whereas a docked tail lacks these features. Docked tails are not permitted in exhibited cats. In Britain and Europe, cosmetic tail docking is illegal.

    Colors and varieties

    Brown spotted tabby comes in both longhaired and shorthaired versions. Warm-toned Pixiebobs have reddish hues in their coats, while cool-toned Pixiebobs have grayish hues. Because of their diverse foundations and recessive genes, Pixiebob variants who are solid color, melanistic, striped, classic tabby, marbled, or rosetted can appear.


    Playful, generally confident, and sometimes mischievous, Pixiebobs make excellent family companions. They are intelligent, gentle cats who are adaptable and amenable to training. This is another breed that is described as doglike due to the cat's tendency to follow her favorite family member around the house.

    Activity level


    Vocal level

    Moderate; they tend to chirp rather than meow.

    Special needs

    The tail should be handled gently.


    Other breeding programs that promote a "bobcatty look" include the American Lynx, Desert Lynx, Highland Lynx, and Alpine Lynx. In the early days, the "lynx" breeds were advertised as having bobcat blood, but DNA testing has not supported those claims. The Highlander is a curl-eared, bobtailed, polydactylous breed. Under European legislation, polydactyly is considered a potentially harmful mutation. Registries in Australia and New Zealand appear the most liberal in accepting polydactylous breeds and some (although not all) accept the Polycoon (Polydactyl Maine Coon), Nepalayan, and Clippercat.

    There is always the risk of "look-alikes" when a breed becomes popular, and to the dismay of ethical Pixiebob breeders, random-bred polydactyl bobtailed cats have been sold as Poly-Bobs. Such cats are not recognized by any registry, and some were found to have the radial hypoplasia mutation that causes disabling forelimb defects, instead of the benign cosmetic form of polydactyly found in the Pixiebob breed.


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

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