The American Bobtail

Until fairly recently, the American Bobtail got very little attention. American Bobtails are loving and highly intelligent cats known for their distinct "wild" look. They are interactive pets that have great devotion to their human families.
The American Bobtail - KittyNook Cat Company

American Bobtails are loving and highly intelligent cats known for their distinct "wild" look. They are interactive pets that have great devotion to their human families. 

This breed gives endless amusements with their antics and provides a cozy shoulder to cry on when their owners feed sad or distressed. This breed is known for being playful and will initiate playtime with owners. Some say that American Bobtails especially like to play hide-and-seek and fetch. 

Although a generally quiet cat, the American Bobtail can trill, chirp, and click when happy. They show their hunting prowess by capturing flying insects that make the deadly mistake of being within their territory in mid-air. They also enjoy "catching" their toys and carrying them in their mouths as if they were freshly captured rodents. They are easily leashed trained and love to go on walks with their human. An easy-going breed of cat, they get along well with other pets and welcome newcomers, whether they are two-legged or four-legged.

Appearance and Development

The American Bobtail evolved through natural selection to make it through feral environments. This breed is usually medium to large and has substantial rectangular bodies. The tail is short but expressive. No tail is the same, but the typical size is 1 to 4 inches. The natural Bobtail can be seen above the back when it is alert. The mix of this distinctive tail with other physical qualities makes the cat resemble the bobtailed wildcat. 

The head is a wide modified wedge with an evident whisker break over a broad and well-defined muzzle. Their whisker pads are fleshy, and the chin is firm. The eye shape gives that cat a natural hunting look and an expression of intelligence and alertness. The American Bobtail is a substantial cat with a rectangular stance; the upper body is broad with prominent shoulder blades. They have legs of significant boning, which gives a muscular and athletic appearance.

This is a slow-growing breed, taking two to three years to reach its full adult size. Females are usually smaller than males. The American Bobtail comes in an array of colors and patterns, but there is a preference for colors and patterns that emphasize the natural wild appearance of the breed. They come in two coat lengths: dense short hair and a medium-length double coat. The occasional bath and brushing are needed to keep the luster of an American Bobtail's coat.

History of the American Bobtail

Until fairly recently, the American Bobtail got very little attention. I bet that you will be surprised to know that this breed has been in the United States and Canada since the 1960s. But because of their rather haphazard debut, the American Bobtail is just now starting to make a name for themselves.

The American Bobtail developed naturally at first. The foundational Bobtail was a short-tailed brown tabby man named Yodie, found at an Arizona motel, allegedly dropped over by a kid from a nearby reservation. A couple discovered Yodie while they were vacationing at the motel. The heritage of Yodie's parents was unknown, but rumor had it that he was a bobcat and domestic cat crossbreed due to its feral look and bobcat-like tail. However, it's more likely that Yodie's short tail resulted from a spontaneous genetic mutation or anomaly within the domestic cat population. While it's certainly possible for domestic cats to mate with bobcats, such crossbreeds, specifically the first-generation males, would likely be sterile. 

Charmed by Yodie's friendliness and its stubby of a tail, the couple took him home. Yodie was then mated with the family's seal point Siamese (proving himself fertile and not fifty percent bobcat). This initial litter had some normal-tailed and some bobtailed kittens, suggesting that the gene that made Yodie's bobbed tail was dominant. We can say this because the Siamese had no history of short-tailed ancestors. A cat needed just one duplicate of a dominant gene for the trait to show up in its children.

The original lines from Yodie were inbred and unhealthy. The goal then became to make the breed more healthy look like Yodie: a big, feral-looking tabby with lengthy hair and a bobbed tail. The healthier felines had a rounded eyebrow from forehead to eye ridge, giving them the "hunting gaze" that improves their feral appearance. 

Experienced breeders then used domestic bobtails from throughout the United States and worked together to produce the stunning American Bobtails as we know them today. Another astonishing fact about this breed is that no known breed of pedigreed cat was used to develop the American Bobtail.

Four North American associations have accepted the American Bobtail. The new and enhanced American Bobtail is available in all colors classifications and has a pleasant deposition, with the feral look of the bobcat. 


While the American Bobtail has a wild look, they do not have a wild temperament. This breed is dedicated, caring, and intelligent. These pleasant cats bond emotionally with their households and adapt quickly to home life.

Bobtails are also spirited and energetic. They also apparently possess an astonishing intelligence for Houdini-type cleverness to escape from spaces with shut doors and secured cages. Although not as vocal as the Siamese, Bobtails will let you know how they feel. They are a people-oriented lot and may get attention from family by meowing or jumping into people's laps.

Though energetic and enthusiastic, American Bobtails are not overactive. They generally do well with other cats and other pets, like well-introduced. When visitors come to the house, they're not the type to hide under the bed but will come to greet them. American Bobtails also love taking trips. Thanks to their highly versatile nature, they quickly adjust to new environments and thus are great friends for tourists. If they are trained, especially from an early age, they tend to be excellent travel companions.


The American Bobtail breed come in many coat colors and coat patterns: black, brown, chocolate, cinnamon, blue, lavender, fawn, red, and cream, with or without white.


The American Bobtail is a moderately shedding feline breed. Whether you have a medium or longhaired cat, the coat requires cleaning several times a week to remove loose hair, prevent mats, and keep the coat shiny.


American Bobtails are a very healthy breed. They have no known genetic predisposition to specific health issues. Nonetheless, they may develop hip dysplasia, and tailless American Bobtails can develop spinal issues that affect their capability to regulate defecation.

While an uncommon breed, you can still find American Bobtails in some shelters and rescue centers. But if you want a kitten, find a reputable breeder to get this pedigree breed from.

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