5 Things to Know About American Bobtails


1. Key Characteristics

  • Weight: 7–11 pounds for females; 12–16 pounds for males
  • Life Expectancy: Around 15 years

The American bobtail cat is a medium to large cat with a naturally short tail. The cat is native to North America and resembles a wild cat in appearance because of their almond-shaped eyes.

They are muscular and graceful felines with affectionate dispositions and higher-than-average intelligence. They reach maturity between 2 and 3 years old.

The coat comes in 2 lengths and is either short or medium-long. Coats can be any pattern or color, allowing a great variety in the breed.

2. Where They Came From

John and Brenda Sanders were vacationing in Arizona in the late 1960s when they discovered a brown kitten with a shortened tail. They named him Yodi and took him home with them to Iowa. The couple’s existing cat, a mixed-breed domestic cat named Mishi, was romanced by Yodi when he was a little older.

Their kittens had the same short tail as Yodi had, and friends quickly took notice. Several of the kittens were crossed with longhaired color point cats to produce the first American bobtail cats.The early bobtails did have specific color characteristics, but these were too difficult to replicate to use as a standard. Eventually, the breed was listed as having any acceptable coat color and pattern.

The International Cat Association recognized the breed in 1989, and the breed is also recognized by the Cat Fanciers’ Association.

American bobtails generally have short tails. By: gazeronly (Top: Serhii Kucher)

3. How Friendly Are They?

Bobtails are loving and affectionate cats, and tend to become attached to the entire family instead of just 1 person. They prefer to spend time with their family instead of being alone, but they are not demanding. Their short tails “wag” according to their moods, and they are comfortable with children, other pets and dogs.

Bobtails are intelligent and can be taught to walk on a leash, play fetch and hide-and-seek and perform other tricks. Some people report their bobtails act more like dogs than cats by coming when called or following them around. They are considered quiet cats and use trilling and chirping to communicate.

4. Is This the Right Cat for You?

Exercise Needs

MEDIUM: This breed is active indoors and usually playful, and they can be taken for walks outside on a leash if desired. Provide a consistent amount of food each day, and introduce toys and towers to keep your cat active. Puzzle toys can provide extra mental stimulation for this smart breed.

If you notice weight gain, you can increase your cat’s exercise with these tips. It’s also a good idea to have the cat checked out by a veterinarian as well as review the quality of the cat food you provide.

Bobtails are nimble and creative cats. Many people report that their bobtails are masters at escaping carriers and closed rooms. They are great to travel with and adapt easily to new surroundings. Keeping your bobtail primarily indoors is the safest option to protect against attacks by other animals or reduce the chance of disease.

Grooming Needs

MEDIUM: Both coat varieties of the bobtail are double coats, and they are easy to maintain. Regular brushing a few times per week is sufficient, with an occasional bath. When a regular grooming routine is in place, the coat is less likely to tangle or mat. Shedding may increase during the spring or fall seasons.

Scratching surfaces should be provided to help keep the nails maintained between trimmings. Check the eyes and ears for discharge or buildup, and clean the teeth on a regular basis to prevent periodontal disease.

Health Problems

MEDIUM: Some bobtails are born without tails and may suffer from additional health problems due to a malformed spine. Other than typical cat health problems, bobtails are generally a healthy breed.

Too cute! Check out this video of Iggy, an American bobtail cat:

5. Where to Adopt One

American bobtail cats end up in shelters and rescues just as many other breeds do. Check adoption and rescue resources first, and check out our adoption search (select the “cats” tab).

If you do decide to obtain your bobtail through a breeder, review the warning signs to ensure the breeder is not operating a kitten mill.

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