American Bobtail Cat Breed Characteristics

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American bobtail cat quick facts

Length‌: 12 - 20 inches


Weight‌: Females: 7 - 11 pounds, Males: 12-16 pounds

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Lifespan‌: 11 - 15 years or more

Coat length‌: Short or long

Coloring‌: All coat colors and patterns and any eye color

Grooming needs‌: Low to medium

Friendliness‌: Breed alone is not an accurate predictor of individual cats' personalities. However, American bobtail cats are generally regarded as affectionate and easy-going.


The American bobtail cat breed is a domestic cat that shares a similar appearance with wild bobcats. However, there is no relationship between wild bobcats and the domestic breed. The American bobtail has a wonderful and affectionate personality. They are a joy to have in your household. They love to cuddle but will also entertain with their playful antics.


The breed tends to be very healthy and has minimal grooming requirements. This makes them a good fit for busy families. Carefully consider the American bobtail cat's personality and care requirements before adding a new kitten to your family.

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American bobtail cat history

The American bobtail breed was developed from feral domestic cats. The cats were found to naturally have shortened tails. Although these short-tail cats have been in existence for a long time, the American bobtail is a fairly new breed that only started in the 1960s.



While traveling through Arizona, John and Brenda Sanders found a short-tail, brown tabby kitten that they named Yodi. When the family returned to Iowa, he was bred to the couple's color point cat, Mishi. Since the short tail is a dominant trait, the litter had Yodi's short tail. Their friends, Mindy Shultz and Charlotte Bentley liked the young kittens and began outcrossing them to create the American bobtail breed.


The breed comes in both longhair and shorthair varieties. You will most often see them with coat colors and patterns that give them a wild appearance. Though all coat and eye colors are accepted under the breed standard.

The cats are not completely tailless and the cat's tail can vary in length — usually 1 to 4 inches long. When the cat holds their tail up, it should be visible above the back. Though it should not extend lower than the hocks of the hind legs. Some other physical characteristics include:


  • a rectangular-shaped body
  • a muscular build
  • a broad, wedge-shaped head
  • large, almond-shaped eyes

The breed has been accepted by many registries including the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA), the International Cat Association (TICA), and the American Cat Fanciers' Association (ACFA).


American bobtail cat personality

The American bobtail cat is a loving and affectionate pet. They are not solitary animals and prefer the company of the family, including children and other pets. These wonderful personality traits are often compared to those of a golden retriever. The American bobtail cat is also an ideal choice for a therapy pet. They tend to be very adaptable and can be excellent travel companions.

Although they prefer company, the cats do not tend to be loud or demanding. In addition to meowing, they also communicate with chirps, trills, and clicks.


Playtime is very important to the American bobtail. They love playing games of fetch and hide and seek and showing off their hunting skills on both cat toys and insects that dare invade your home. One of their dog-like traits is that they are very trainable and can be taught to walk on a leash. One quirk of this breed of cat is that they love shiny objects and will take them if given a chance.

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American bobtail cat lifespan and health issues

A healthy American bobtail cat can live into their mid-teens or longer. The breed tends to be very healthy and they don't have any known breed-specific health problems that breeders and cat owners should be concerned with.

With proper care, which includes a good diet and regular veterinarian examinations, cats are likely to stay healthy and maintain a healthy weight. Avoiding obesity is important to a long life as the extra weight can increase the risks of other health conditions.

American bobtail cat grooming and care

American bobtail cats may have short or long hair and neither variety is prone to matting. Brush the bobtail cat a couple of times per week to remove any loose hair and any tangles that may have developed. More frequent brushing is recommended in the spring months when the cat is shedding.

In addition to coat care, other care requirements include:

  • trimming the cat's nails regularly
  • cleaning the cat's ears
  • feeding high-quality commercial cat food
  • providing constant access to fresh clean water
  • having regular veterinary check-ups and vaccinations


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Welcoming a new cat into your home

It is an exciting day when you get word that your American bobtail kitten is ready to come home. Before that day arrives, take some time to cat-proof your home to make sure it is safe and ready for your cat. This includes removing any toxic plants, keeping the counters free of poisonous foods and cleaning supplies, and hiding those shiny objects and jewelry that your cat is sure to love.

Set up a safe room for the cat where they can get to know you and their new environment. Make sure it has everything your new cat will need including:

  • food and water
  • litter box
  • scratching post
  • cat tree
  • cat toys

Allow your new cat to explore the room at their own pace. Spend plenty of time with your cat as American bobtails do not enjoy being alone. But be patient and allow the cat to come to you when they are ready. Offer to play with your cat and be sure to use plenty of positive reinforcement when you interact with them.

If you have other pets in the home, make introductions slowly. Monitor their interactions to make sure that both animals have a positive experience. Once your cat is comfortable with the new environment and the other pets in the household, you can open the door. Then the new cat can begin to explore more of the home. With a bit of patience, American bobtail cats will soon be an active part of the family.



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