Characteristics of American Bobtail Cats

American Bobtail cat

If you like the idea of having an unusual cat with an exotic look and substantial size, American Bobtails may be just the breed for you. Learn more about the characteristics and temperament of these sweet kitties.

Physical Characteristics of American Bobtail Cats

American Bobtails look very much like a Bobcat. This cat's exotic, wild look comes from the combination of its size, coloring and lack of a tail.

This domestic cat is a large cat. The body is well muscled and powerful. The males can weigh in excess of 14 pounds, although the females are somewhat smaller.

The tail, or lack of it, is the piece de resistance for most people. The short tail should be no longer than the hock and will be visible above the back of the animal. It will stand up nearly straight, showing only a slight curve. The lack of a tail is genetic with these cats; it is a characteristic that most cats in the breed share. The short tail can be anywhere from one to four inches. This is only an average, and the tails can be shorter or longer.

The short tail gene of the American Bobtail is dominant. This means that the cat has to be short-tailed to produce bob-tailed offspring. It is possible for a fully-tailed kitten to be born in a litter of Bobtail kittens.

The coat is thick and luxurious with two types of fur. The first layer, nearest the skin, is similar to any short-haired cat. The outer layer is made up of medium length hair that is resistant to water. The coat can come in almost any color or pattern. The ears may be tipped with long hair much like a wild Bobcat.

American Bobtails are a slow-maturing breed of cat and may take as long as three years to completely mature.


These cats have a sweet disposition and devotion to their owners. American Bobtails are known for their outgoing natures and exhibit an almost doglike quality. This cat can easily be leash-trained and, unlike most breeds of cats, walks calmly on a leash. The breed is very playful and will spend hours playing fetch or hide-and-seek with the humans they live with. They adapt well to any household situation and are very accepting of other pets whether they are cats or dogs. These cats are considered the Golden Retriever of the cat world.

Interestingly, this breed has been used successfully in psychotherapy. The cats have sensitivity to people and bond with them readily. They are an excellent breed to have around children because they don't mind being picked up and carried around. American Bobtails have the unusual, and uncanny ability to open closed doors, get out of crates and generally free themselves from any enclosure they don't like. They also have been known to run off with shiny objects that strike their fancy.

American Bobtails History

Although no one really knows where the Bobtail originated, the legend is that the breed is a result of a crossbreeding between a domestic tabby and a wild bobcat. While this breed does look like this type of cross, the likelihood is very small. A crossbreeding between these animals would be a hybrid and, most likely, result in sterility in the offspring much like the Savannah cat.

Breeding began seriously in the 1960s when Himalayan and Siamese cats were outcrossed with the Bobtail.


You may be able to find a breeder near you because the American Bobtail is a popular, if unusual, breed. If not, a quick Google search will result in numerous websites and breeders. You can also check The American Bobtail Breeders Club for referrals.

At this point, the breed is still developing. Therefore outcrossing American Bobtails to domestic cats is still allowable. Since the gene pool is still quite small, breeders are intent upon keeping the gene pool healthy and shy away from too much inbreeding. The goal is to keep the gene pool healthy. Neither Manx nor Japanese Bobtails are used in the matrix, nor are bobcats bred into the existing lines. Originally recognized only as a longhair, a shorthair standard has now been written and accepted.

If the Bobtail has captured your fancy, spend as much time as you can getting to know members of the breed. That's the best way to be sure one of these cats is the right fit for your lifestyle.

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Characteristics of American Bobtail Cats