A large, muscular cat, the Pixie-bob is rumored to originate from a tryst between a domestic shorthair and a bobcat. The breed does resemble their wild cousins, but DNA testing shows they are a wholly domestic cat with a sweet, affable personality and a dog-like loyalty to their family units.
Pixie-bobs enjoy learning tricks and playing games like fetch. They’re always down to eat a meal or two, anytime you are. Similar to breeds like the Bombay, toyger, or ocicat, Pixie-bobs can feel like wild cats in some ways, but without any of the unnecessary risk to their owners.
The Pixie-bob does indeed resemble his alleged wild namesakes. Most Pixie-bobs have black fur and skin on the bottom of their paws, as well as black skin on their chins, lips, and around their eyes. The chin and eyes are usually topped by white fur. Their heads are pear-shaped, with medium-sized, tipped ears covered in heavy ear hair.
These cats’ coats can be short or long, but they are always double-coated with thick, wooly hair that can feel coarse to the touch. The coats are tabby in a pattern that resembles the North American bobcat but can come in a variety of colors, with fawn, orange, or light gray being the most common.
Pixie-bobs’ tails can be non-existent, though a tail between 2–4 inches is required for show cats. Occasionally, Pixie-bobs will present with regular tails, which are not considered a fault for show. Pixie-bobs are also polydactyl, most usually with five toes per front foot and four in the back, though six- and seven-toed varieties exist.
Males and females can both grow up to 12–13 inches tall, though larger males have occasionally been seen. Pixie-bobs are very thick-set and muscular cats, and while 14 pounds is the usual top size for a male, there are recorded males as heavy as 25 pounds.
Exhibiting absolutely none of the traits from their possible namesakes, Pixie-bobs are sweet-tempered, easy-going animals. They rarely vocalize in traditional meows, opting instead for occasional churrups or head butts to get their point across.
The breed is friendly to other cats, and dogs will be accepted with patient introductions. Pixie-bobs are known to be very sturdy travel companions and have also garnered a reputation as good play companions for children.
Since Pixie-bobs are large, heavy cats, make sure they have enough room to exercise and work off some energy. These cats are active, though not hyper, so there will be some spirited play sessions in your future.
Pixie-bobs are large enough to handle themselves well outside and can be trained to walk on a harness or leash if so desired.
Like many double-coated breeds, the Pixie-bob requires a healthy amount of grooming. Their wooly coats hang on to anything they catch, and these cats are pretty regular shedders. Brushing your Pixie-bob at least three times a week will be needed in order to keep ahead of the loose hair and tangles.
Also, Pixie-bobs have a propensity to gain weight if you aren’t vigilant with their feeding schedules. For these cats, regulated feeding times are a better call than free feeding.
“If you’re going to free-choice feed, my recommendation is to only leave out their recommended daily caloric amount,” says Carol Margolis, DVM, DACT, of the Gold Coast Center for Veterinary Care on Long Island, NY.
Because of the large number of cats the Pixie-bob has been outcrossed with, they’re a remarkably healthy breed. Their average life expectancy is 15 years, and while they have no breed-specific maladies that should cause you to lose any sleep, keep an eye out for the usual cat concerns like heart and kidney issues.
“Chronic renal diseases are just across the board with cats,” says Michelle Beck, DVM, CCRT, CVA, of the Backlund Animal Clinic in Omaha, Neb. "Some of them can live quite a long time with them. It’s just a matter of proper care and monitoring.”
“Also, by the age of 10, 70 percent of [cats] have arthritis somewhere in their body,” she continues. “Cats are very good at hiding their pain.”
“That’s something that’s in their genes,” Margolis adds. “Unlike dogs, who are exclusively predators in the food chain, cats are not just predators, they’re also prey. So if cats in the wild show any kind of pain or discomfort, they’ll be the first to be hunted.”
For this reason, both doctors recommend regular checkups for cats, even if there appear to be no symptoms or issues of concern.
In 1985, Mount Baker, Wash., resident Carol Ann Brewer rescued a male stray she named Keba. Keba was a big ol’ boy, coming up to Brewer’s knee and weighing 17 pounds, even in the emaciated state in which she found him. Shortly after Brewer brought him home, Keba snuck next door and mated with the neighbor’s domestic shorthair. From the resulting litter of kittens, Brewer kept a bobcat-spotted bob-tailed female, which she named Pixie. Pixie would become the foundation cat (and namesake) of the whole Pixie-bob breed.
Due to Keba’s size, markings, and stray nature, Brewer assumed he had at least some bobcat blood in him, and thus so did Pixie. For a number of years, this was the accepted origin of the breed. But DNA research has subsequently confirmed the Pixie-bob is a wholly domestic breed, not only distinct from the bobcat, but also distinct from other bob-tailed breeds like the Manx, American bobtail, and Japanese bobtail.
The Pixie-bob breed was granted provisional status by The International Cat Association in 1993 and granted champion status in 1998.
- Pixie-bobs are the only cats for whom being polydactyl is a show requirement.
- The pattern on the Pixie-bob’s coat goes all the way to the skin. If you shave these cats, you’ll see their markings on their body.
- While many cat breeds are described as being “dog-like,” the Pixie-bob may take the cake. They can learn tricks, will walk on a leash, and understand basic commands like “no,” “get down,” and “come here.”