American Bobtails resemble wild bobcats, particularly with their large, sturdy, muscular bodies and their short bobtail. Typically extending only 1 to 4 inches, their tails are about 1/3 the length of a standard cat tail, not exceeding the hock, and almost-but not quite-straight. No two American Bobtail tails are the same. These medium to large cats have wedge-shaped heads and piercing, oval almond eyes. This diverse breed has coats of all different colors and patterns. Males generally weigh in at 7 to 15 pounds and females at 7 to 12 pounds.
It's a people-oriented breed that loves, and often actively seeks, attention.
Although the American Bobtail often has a wild expression, it is entirely domesticated in personality. It's a people-oriented breed that loves, and often actively seeks, attention. The breed is also given to clowning around. It is an energetic and friendly breed, but also a notably young one; American Bobtails originated in the 1960s, but the first bloodlines were phased out and a new breed blueprint was drawn up in the 1980s, largely because of excessive early inbreeding.
True to its name, the American Bobtail is indeed American born and bred. Though the breed's resemblance to the wild bobcat is striking, no genetic link to wild ancestry has ever been found.
The particularly intelligent American Bobtail is a sociable cat that enjoys interacting with people. It thrives on attention and has a flair for putting on entertaining shows that are facilitated by an athletic prowess. While they aren't typically in-your-face animals, if an American Bobtail feels ignored too long, it may resort to vocalizations, antics, or pouncing onto a lap to be noticed. These cats are known for their uncanny escape artist capabilities; they have a knack for getting out of rooms, cages, carriers, and crates that seem secure.
American Bobtails are also good travelers. They are sometimes taken along as companions on the road by long-haul truck drivers, and it's not uncommon to see them traveling with families in RVs. These cats are also widely used as therapy animals because they are loyal and display a particular sensitivity to human emotions. They are considered by many to be more like dogs than cats in these respects.
This breed also handles commotion well. American Bobtails get along well with other cats, cat-tolerant dogs, and children. It's a good choice for first-time cat owners, large families, families with young kids, and households with multiple pets. However, this cat will demand individualized attention.
American Bobtails are generally healthy cats. When kept as indoor-only pets or allowed outside minimally and only with direct supervision, they can be expected to live around 15 years. Regular annual or semi-annual checkups with a veterinarian help ensure continued health, early detection of medical concerns, and a full life.
Some American Bobtails are born without tails. This is usually the result of a too-short spine, and the condition can cause a variety of health problems over the cat's lifetime. In particular, the cat may have difficulty controlling bowel movements.
These cats, like any animal, are not immune to hereditary conditions. Deal only with a reputable breeder who is forthcoming about the possibility of genetic disorders to minimize the chances of acquiring a congenitally ill American Bobtail.
The American Bobtail's heightened intelligence and energetic and inquisitive nature make it easy to train. These cats are receptive to leash training and enjoy taking walks outdoors. They do best with access to puzzle toys that stimulate them and give them an outlet for their curiosity; without such outlets, they're likely to solve the problem themselves, snooping around and stealing items for their own amusement.
These cats have a real fondness for shiny objects. If left to entertain themselves, the breed will make targets of any such trinkets they find. Even when appropriately stimulated, American Bobtails may succumb to this love and steal jewelry or other sparkly items that catch their eye. Keep jewelry locked away in jewelry boxes and pay attention to what's left lying around. Other than this, the breed is not considered to be thieving, and there should be no other problems.
Although naturally predisposed to being good travelers, American Bobtails do best when acclimated to vehicles from a young age. They're quick to learn how to fetch, and they tend to take a liking to the game; once familiar, they'll attempt to initiate games whenever the mood strikes them.
American Bobtails may be shorthaired or longhaired, and the Cat Fanciers Association recognizes both types. The longhaired cats have medium-long hair, and both types have a double coat. Grooming needs are minimal for both types, and neither experiences matting of the coat.
Brush these cats once or twice a week to remove loose hairs and to distribute natural oils over the coat to keep it healthy and shiny. A slicker brush or a rubber curry brush is a good selection for this breed. Nails should be trimmed once per week and the ears should be cleaned periodically with a veterinarian-recommended cleansing product. Brush the cat's teeth once per week.
Cats are fastidious about self-grooming and take care of most of it on their own. Like most cats, American Bobtails are not naturally receptive to grooming procedures. Grooming will be easiest for the cat's entire lifespan if handling starts early in life. Briefly and gently handle the cat's paws, individual toes, ears, and mouth every day or two from the beginning. Also, keep grooming sessions short to start, and then gradually increase their duration.
The American Bobtail first appeared in the 1960s. While there is some uncertainty about origin, the first bloodline began with a short-tailed brown tabby male and a seal point Siamese female. Breeding stepped up in the 1970s, but it was a difficult time for marketing a new breed and these cats didn't attract much attention, through no fault of their own.
In the 1980s, a large group of breeders, frustrated by a complex genetic code and an overly inbred bloodline, began anew. American Bobtails have gained in popularity ever since.
American Bobtails are one of the most recent breeds to gain official recognition. The International Cat Association (TICA) recognized the breed in May 1989; the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) didn't recognize the breed until February 2000.