orange tabby American Bobtail cat
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American Bobtail Cat Breed Profile

Est. read time: 8 min.

With so many cat breeds across the globe, it can sometimes be tricky to distinguish one from another. Many breeds look similar or have similar names, so most of us are more likely to mix them up than correctly identify them.

Not so with the American Bobtail. These beauties have such a distinct look and personality that they are one of the easiest breeds to recognize. That is, if you are crazy about cats like we are. 

At a quick glance, you might think these cats are wild bobcats, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. With their short, stubby tails, they may look wild, but they have docile and loving personalities.

Keep reading to learn more about the American Bobtail cat.

American Bobtail a glance
Personality Playful, adaptable, affectionate
Life expectancy 11-15 years
Weight 7-16 lbs
Coat & colors Short or long; various colors & patterns
Energy level Medium
Affection level High
Friendliness High
Shedding level Medium
Required grooming Medium

Overview of the American Bobtail

long-haired orange tabby American Bobtail kitten

American Bobtails are sturdy, athletic, muscular cats that are usually medium in size. They have a very rugged look that only further relates them to bobcats. If you saw an American Bobtail outside, you might do a double take, thinking it’s a wildcat—but inside they make themselves right at home. 

These cats are adaptable and open to changes, making room for new family members easily and traveling wherever you need to go. They are lovely companions; nothing makes them happier than pleasing their people. 


American Bobtails can be medium- to large-sized, generally weighing between 7 and 16 pounds. Males tend to be larger than females, and may take up to 3 years to reach full maturity.

Despite the range in weight, this breed is compact and strong. In other words, don’t take their strength for granted! These cats can surely launch themselves if they get a burst of energy. In fact, their hind legs are powerful, allowing them to jump up to 6 feet high.


American Bobtails are unique because of their short, stubby tail. The tail is about one-third the length of a normal cat’s tail.

This doesn’t make them seem much smaller, though, with the average cat measuring up to 30 inches in length. Somehow, even with their short tail, their presence is quite commanding. 


The American Bobtail's coat color and pattern can vary. Their wild appearance is very recognizable, partly because they often display tabby patterns similar to those of wild bobcats. They can also be bicolor, calico, tortie, solid, or colorpoint. 

The coat lengths vary as well—interestingly, this breed has no undercoat. As per the breed standard, some long-haired cats have toe tufts. American Bobtails can have either short hair or long hair that may appear dense and thick or long and shaggy. It will usually be non-matting with a density-double coat, which can be great for grooming. 

Life expectancy

American Bobtails typically live 11 to 15 years. With a proper diet, enough exercise, and lots of love, this healthy breed can have a long and happy life. 

History of the American Bobtail

brown tabby American Bobtail cat

The bobbed tail is a genetic mutation that is completely harmless and can happen randomly in any cat breed. This relatively new breed came from feral domestic cats with natural bobtails. Therefore, the American Bobtail did not become its own recognized breed until the 1960s. 

Two breeders, John and Brenda Sanders, found a bobbed-tail cat at an Arizona motel and brought him to their home in Iowa. They named this brown tabby Yodie. 

This cat bred with the couple’s female seal-point Siamese cat, leading to a litter of bobtail kittens with sweet temperaments. Other reputable breeders took an interest in this adorable adaptation and followed suit. 

Through more selective breeding, the “wild” markings, shortened tails, and compact bodies became preferred by breeders. While other colors and markings are still accepted on an American Bobtail, the wilder-looking, the better!

American Bobtail characteristics

American Bobtails are famous for their tufted ears, thoughtful eyes, and, of course, their tiny tails. They are medium- to large-sized cats that are strong with athletic builds (only used every once in a while). They aren’t overly active, despite what you might think, and only need a bit of exercise each day. 

American Bobtails have beautiful yet serious eyes. They range in color, including copper, gold, yellow, green, blue, or even odd-eyes. You can recognize these cats not only from their short tails but from their piercing gaze! 

These cats are sometimes referred to as the “golden retrievers” of cats because of their playful, dog-like demeanor. They want to please their humans and stay by their side as much as possible. 

Chatty creatures, the American Bobtail has a range of vocalizations. These include chirps, purrs, and meows. 

Personality and behavior

orange tabby American Bobtail kitten

American Bobtails may look wild, but they act anything but. True, they are wildly affectionate and playful, keeping you entertained until they’re ready to curl up near you and take a nice nap. Be prepared to entertain them frequently, preferably by throwing toys or playing fetch. 

These cats are beloved loyal companions that can adapt easily to their environment. Whether you live in a small apartment, on a boat, in a tree house, or spend a lot of time on the road, an American Bobtail could be the cat for you. 

Playful and intelligent

The main goal of an American Bobtail is to be your best friend. They will go so far as to learn how to walk on a leash if it’s what you want! 

American Bobtails get along with most people and other pets, which means they can find a friend in anyone. What’s great about these cats is that compared to many other breeds, they are open to meeting new people and don’t get very nervous in new situations.

As much as they love to play, walk on a leash, and travel, they aren’t overly active pets and only need so much before they retire to a nice, warm nap.

Caring for an American Bobtail

long-haired grey tabby American Bobtail kitten

American Bobtails aren’t difficult to care for. They find a lot of their happiness spent with you and don’t need much exercise to feel fulfilled. As with all pets, there are certain things that you can do to make sure they are healthy and content. 


The American Bobtail is a relatively low-maintenance breed of cat. They do shed, as they have thick fur, but you only need to brush them a couple of times per week to keep them looking fresh and soft. 

During the warmer months, your American Bobtail will participate in seasonal shedding. When this happens, you will need to brush your cat more often to keep up with any loose fur or tufts.

You should pay attention to your cat’s dental hygiene so that they don’t suffer from periodontal disease later in life. Keeping their litter box clean will ensure that they are comfortable using the bathroom and don’t have accidents outside the box. With a self-cleaning litter box like Litter-Robot, your job of keeping the space clean is made a whole lot easier. 

Health-related issues

American Bobtails can remain relatively healthy as long as they are given proper exercise and nutrition. They might develop hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is when the muscles surrounding the heart thicken and make it more difficult to breathe; or polycystic kidney disease (PKD), when cysts develop on one or both of their kidneys. 

Bringing home an American Bobtail

If you are looking to adopt a cat that can become your best friend, travel companion, and cuddle buddy, the American Bobtail is a great breed to consider. You don’t have to worry about them becoming bored or getting into trouble because they are relatively laid-back.

You will be the talk of the neighborhood if you can get them on a leash and go for a stroll, but mainly because they look “wild” with an adorable tail. These amazing cats deserve to be well-loved, so if you have the opportunity to add this kitty to your home, we seriously advocate for it! 


Photo credit: © Chris 73 / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-3.0