American Bobtail

American bobtails are known for their wild appearance and short bobbed tails. These cats make loving, loyal, and playful pets. Learn more about owning an American bobtail.
By Hilary Braaksma
August 24, 2020
American Bobtail
Coat Length
Pattern
Other Traits
Temperament
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American Bobtail

height
  • 9 to 10 inches
weight
  • 7 to 16 pounds
life span
  • 13 to 15 years
good with
  • children
  • seniors
  • dogs
  • cats
  • families
temperament
  • sociable
  • affectionate
  • bold
intelligence
  • high
shedding amount
  • normal
playfulness
  • medium
activity level
  • calm
vocalness
  • frequent
coat length
  • long
  • short
colors
  • chocolate / brown / sable
  • cinnamon
  • lavender / silver
  • fawn
  • blue / gray
  • black / ebony
  • cream / beige / tan
  • lilac
  • red / orange
  • white
patterns
  • bi-color
  • solid
  • tabby
  • calico / tri-color
  • color point
other traits
  • easy to train
  • easy to groom
  • friendly toward humans
  • friendly toward other pets
  • friendly toward strangers
  • prone to health issues
  • high potential for weight gain
  • good for first-time pet owners
  • strong loyalty tendencies
  • good lap cat
  • tolerates being picked up

American bobtails are known for their short bobbed tails, rugged appearance, and playful personalities. They have been referred to as the “golden retriever” of cat breeds, thanks to their affectionate and friendly personalities. These cats love to be around humans and have a sweet, gentle nature that makes them wonderful companions.

American bobtails are a relatively uncommon breed. Because they’re considered rare, these cats can cost around $600–$1,200 from a reputable breeder.

Appearance

You can identify an American bobtail by its tail first and foremost. These cats have a stubby, bobbed tail that’s only around one-third the length of a normal cat’s tail. No two of their tails are exactly the same, but they’re usually 1–4 inches long and can be straight, kinked, or bumped along the edge.

The American bobtail is a naturally occurring cat breed, which shows in their wild, rugged appearance. This breed can be short- or long-haired, with either dense fur or long, shaggy coats. These cats come in all colors and patterns. American bobtails are a high-shedding breed and not considered hypoallergenic—in fact, they’re likely to cause a flare-up in owners with allergies.

American bobtails have large, deep-set eyes that are almond-shaped and can come in any color. They have long back legs and a large, athletic body that typically weighs between 7–16 pounds. These cats are sometimes slow maturing and can take longer than your typical cat to reach full adulthood, around 2–3 years.

Temperament

American bobtails are often described as sweet, affectionate, and docile. These pets make great companions and lap cats. They’re not aggressive and do well with older kids and cat-friendly pet playmates.

While this breed is playful, it’s not super energetic. You can expect them to want to engage in one-on-one play a little bit each day, but otherwise, they’re content to lay around and snuggle. True to their laidback nature, these cats aren’t super vocal either. Your American bobtail will make noise when it’s necessary, but you can expect to hear more chirps and trills than full-on meowing.

More than anything, your American bobtail wants to love you—and receive your love! If you’re looking for a kind companion pet, this breed is a great fit. These gentle felines are ideal for families and sometimes suggested as therapy animals.

Living Needs

American bobtails love to be loved, and have tons of love to give in return. These sweet cats need lots of human interaction and don't do well when left alone for long periods of time. Busy families be aware: Your bobtail will need constant affection. If you spend a lot of time on the road, the American bobtail travels well and makes an excellent traveling companion.

These social cats get along with pretty much everyone and don’t mind homes with frequent visitors. In fact, they’ll probably bolt to the door to greet guests before you do! Because they crave interaction, they’ll try to make friends with just about anyone—you’ll need to keep an eye on your American bobtail to make sure he doesn’t head outside for a meet and greet with less friendly animals and people. To satisfy your kitty’s curious nature and social needs, you can leash-train him and take him on strolls around the neighborhood.

Although they’re not incredibly active, they do have strong, athletic bodies. American bobtails have especially muscular hind legs and can jump up to 6 feet. Providing your pet with a tall cat tree will give him somewhere safe and comfy to land when he feels like getting some air.

Care

Grooming needs for your American bobtail are fairly simple. You’ll need to brush this breed once or twice a week to keep their coats smooth and healthy. Make sure to regularly trim your cat’s nails and clean their ears frequently as well.

American bobtails are a relatively low-energy breed and won’t need a ton of exercise. Owners won’t need to go out of their way to get these cats moving, but you can encourage one-on-one play and offer interactive toys.

Because they’re intelligent, these cats are typically easy to train to do simple tasks like using a litter box or a scratching post. They can also be trained to play games of fetch and walk on a leash.

Socialization should be simple with this easygoing breed. American bobtails introduced to people and pets early are usually easy to get along with and welcoming of unfamiliar faces.

Your American bobtail should be fed a diet of high-quality cat food recommended by your vet. Be careful not to overfeed your cat, as it could lead to obesity.

Health

American bobtails have a lifespan of 13–15 years, and are a relatively healthy breed thanks to their natural development, though incidences of being born without a tail can lead to spinal issues and there are still some genetic conditions to look out for.

“The American bobtail is prone to develop hip dysplasia with age, a hereditary disease that has the potential to cause lameness and arthritis of the hip joints,” Dr. Kurt Venator, DVM, PhD and Chief Veterinary Officer at Purina says. “In addition, the tailless American bobtail has been known to develop a spinal condition that may affect their ability to control defecation.”

Reputable breeders will screen for health issues in your kitten, but it’s important to have them screened regularly into adulthood. Some health problems can go undetected until later in your cat’s life.

History

The American bobtail we know today began naturally, with feral domestic cats born with bobbed tails. One of the first known instances of attempted breeding was in the 1960s when a vacationing couple, John and Brenda Sanders, found a bobtail cat Arizona and let it mate with their female cat back home in Iowa.

In the late ’60s, experienced breeders began to mate these bobtails from all over the country, working to perfect the American bobtail breed. Breeders have worked over time to refine the American bobtail into a companion pet with the appearance of a wild bobtail, but a sweeter and more gentle temperament. 

No pedigreed breeds were used to establish the American bobtail breed. Their wide, natural gene pool gives these cats their rugged, outdoorsy appearance and a hardy resilience in terms of health and attitude. The American bobtail is considered a relatively new breed, recognized by the Cat Fanciers’ Association in 2000.

Fun Facts

  • American bobtails can be born without any tail at all. Those kittens are called “rumpies.”
  • The dog-like American bobtails will sometimes wag their tails to express happiness.