American Bobtail

PetMD Editorial
By PetMD Editorial
Published: July 16, 2008

Physical Characteristics

The American Bobtail cat is fairly long and well built. Their hind legs are slightly longer than their forelegs, a feature they share with Bobcats. It wears a rain-resistant, all-weather double coat. The American Bobtail has a wild appearance, with slightly almond-shaped, "hunter" eyes. And the cat's most defining feature is its short tail, which is between one-third and one-half the length of an average cat's tail. Though the cat's tail is typically straight, it may curve, have a bump or be slightly knotted.

Personality and Temperament

The Bobtail is an intelligent, active and affectionate cat. It loves to sit on your lap and be petted; it is often compared to a dog in its behavior and devotion. The Bobtail is also great with children, loves to play games, and is the type of cat that will meet you at the door when you arrive home. An excellent problem solver, it has also been known to escape from closed rooms and locked cages.

History and Background

While not new to America -- first appeared here in the 1960s -- the American Bobtail breed has recently become popular. And although the true history of this cat is not known, it is widely believed that the breed came into being from a mating between a short-tailed brown tabby male named Yodie and a seal point Siamese female.

Yodie came into the possession of John and Blenda Sanders of Iowa while they were enjoying a vacation near an Indian reservation in Arizona. Though the ancestry of Yodie is not known, he had a short tail. Birman, Himalayan, and a Himalayan/Siamese cross were then added to the bloodline.

In the 1970s, the first standard for this cat was written by Mindy Schultz, a Bobtail breeder and friend of the Sanders. But due to the lack of resources, this breed made little headway. Unfortunately, most of these early bloodlines have now faded out. Then, in the 1980s, a few breeders decided to make a slightly more flexible Bobtail. They broke away from the original blueprint, which was essentially a short-tailed pointed longhair with white mittens and a white face blaze, and began a new breeding program.

This new Bobtail, which has emerged as a result of the efforts of these breeders, comes in all colors, categories, and divisions. Its seeds can be traced to a Florida breeder, who crossed domestic cats with Bobcats. Doubt remains about the authenticity of this story, however, as many experts said that such a mating would produce sterile kittens. Another, more likely, story is that this short-tailed cat was a product of a naturally occurring mutation among domestic cats.

The breed has excelled in its category but is still in the developing stage.

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