The American Bobtail is a medium-to-large cat with a solid, muscular body and a luxurious coat. Its tail is naturally “bobbed,” meaning that it is unusually short and preferably should not exceed the hock in length. When this cat is alert, its tail is held straight up. Its head is distinctively wedge-shaped, with a prominent brow over large, slightly almond-shaped eyes, giving it the persistent look of a focused hunter. In overall appearance, the American Bobtail resembles a wild bobcat. It is a slow-maturing breed, taking two to three years to reach full adulthood. The American Bobtail comes in all colors and coat patterns, both in long-haired and short-haired varieties. Its coat is naturally water-resistant, regardless of length. The Bobtail easily adapts to almost any environment, whether it be busy or quiet. They make wonderful household companions.
The American Bobtail is truly an American and is an excellent example of breed development through natural selection. The foundation stock of this breed was a group of feral cats that had naturally bobbed tails. Although the Bobtail has existed in the United States for many generations, fanciers only began refining and standardizing the breed in the late 1960's.
Reportedly, a young couple discovered a bobtailed male brown tabby kitten on a Native American reservation in Southern Arizona sometime in the 1960’s. The kitten was rumored to be the product of a mating between a wild bobcat and a domestic farm cat. The couple kept this cat and eventually bred him to a domestic long-tailed female. Some of the resulting offspring were born with bobbed tails. Breed fanciers thereafter incorporated other naturally bobtailed feral cats into their breeding programs, as foundation stock for what is now the American Bobtail breed.
Today, the American Bobtail breeds true to its standard. It is one of the more recent breeds to have been recognized for purebred registration by the American Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), achieving this status in 2000. The breed obtained Championship status with the CFA in 2006.
There are no reliably reported health problems unique to the American Bobtail cat. As a breed, they seem to be particularly hearty, probably due to the closeness of feral bloodlines in their pedigree.
Despite its rather wild appearance, the American Bobtail is a friendly, highly intelligent, adaptable and personable cat. It is often described as being “dog-like” in temperament. Bobtails are exceptionally affectionate and devoted to their owners and can be quite demanding of attention. They typically get along well with dogs and other cats, even welcoming newcomers of the two or four-legged variety with ease into the household. The American Bobtail is a good traveler and has been a cabin companion for many long-haul truck drivers. They also have been used by therapists to calm distraught patients, because they are well-behaved and unusually sensitive to people in distress.
Today's American Bobtail still possesses many of the characteristics of its close feral ancestors. It is fearless and outgoing, without being aggressive. The Bobtail enjoys activity and gets most of its exercise through playing with its people and other pets. It also takes well to leash-training and enjoys long on-leash walks around the neighborhood.
The Bobtail is known for its clown-like behavior and will provide hours of entertainment for its family members. This breed loves to play games, such as hide-and-seek and fetch; often, it will initiate these games and be quite persistent until someone becomes engaged. The Bobtail is tolerant of and gentle with children, and apparently does not mind being toted around like a sack of potatoes or a load of laundry. American Bobtails are not a particularly vocal breed, but they will purr, trill, chirp and click when they are especially happy. The Bobtail has a particular affinity for shiny objects. Their owners are well-advised to keep jewelry and other sparkly items far out of their reach. Both males and females of this breed are self-confident, mellow and “laid-back.” Males typically allow females, kittens and other pets to eat first and are very protective of their offspring.