The Complete! Guide to the American Bobtail Cat


The American Bobtail is an uncommon and uniquely American breed of domestic cat. They are best known for their noticeably short or bobbed tails, which gives the breed its name. The American Bobtail originated in the 1960s and was developed over several decades before being recognized as a breed in its own right in the late 1980s. These cats are most popular in North America but can be found around the world.

The American Bobtail is a medium to large cat breed with a muscled, substantial body and a naturally short tail that is usually about 1/3 to 1/2 the length of a normal cat’s tail. Their hind legs are slightly longer than the front which gives them a visible rump-high appearance. They have a shaggy medium to long length coat that occurs in both short hair and long hair varieties. This breed is highly intelligent, energetic, athletic and acrobatic. They are known to be extremely loyal, confident, friendly and interact strongly with their families. The American Bobtail is well-suited for active families and those who want an outgoing, smart companion cat.

Characteristics of the American Bobtail Cat

The American Bobtail is known for having a unique appearance and Personality. Here is an overview of the breed’s key physical traits and temperament.

Physical Traits

  • Size – The American Bobtail is considered a medium to large breed. Typical adults weigh between 7-16 pounds with females generally on the smaller end and males larger.
  • Tail – The most defining feature is the cat’s visibly short tail that is 1/3 to 1/2 the length of a normal cat tail. The tail should be flexible and expressive.
  • Legs – Their hind legs are slightly longer than the front which creates a visible rump-high appearance. This contributes to their speed and agility.
  • Body – They have a substantial, muscular body covered in a shaggy medium to long length coat. The look is rugged yet athletic.
  • Coat Colors – This breed comes in all coat colors and patterns including tabby, calico, tortoiseshell, solid, bicolor, and more. Eye color varies.
  • Coat Length – The breed has both short-hair and long-hair varieties. The shorthairs have a medium density double coat while the longhairs have a semi-long dense undercoat with longer fur on the neck and behind the ears.


  • Intelligence – The American Bobtail is highly intelligent, alert, and perceptive. They learn routines quickly and can be trained to walk on a leash, play fetch, and more.
  • Energy – This is an extremely energetic and athletic breed that needs substantial daily exercise and playtime. Interactive toys are ideal to engage their natural prey drive for pouncing and chasing.
  • Affection – American Bobtails are extremely affectionate and attached to their families. They crave human interaction and bond very closely to their owners. Most have a favorite person.
  • Confidence – This breed is fearless, self-assured, and friendly with strangers. They are not usually shy or nervous around new people or environments.
  • Activity Level – With their high energy, intelligence and athleticism, the American Bobtail requires a lot of interactive play, environmental enrichment, and outlets for exercise each day.
  • Noisiness – They are moderately vocal and communicate vocally more than some breeds. Their ‘meow’ has been described as being softer and less obnoxious than other cats.
  • Family-friendly – American Bobtails do extremely well in families, especially those with children. Early socialization ensures they grow up comfortable around kids.

Origin and History of the Breed

The American Bobtail breed was officially recognized by The International Cat Association in 1989 and the American Cat Fanciers Association in 1993. While still uncommon, the American Bobtail breed has steadily increased in popularity and can now be found globally thanks to dedicated breeders.

Care and Ownership of American Bobtails

While healthy and relatively easy keepers, there are some important things to know about properly caring for an American Bobtail cat. Here is an overview of their grooming, activity, diet, and health needs.

Grooming Needs

The American Bobtail coat requires weekly to daily grooming depending on the coat length. The shorthairs need a thorough brushing about once a week using a slicker brush or rubber grooming glove to remove loose hair and distribute skin oils. The longhairs need daily brushing sessions to prevent or remove mats and minimize shedding. Bathing is only necessary every few months or when dirty. Trim nail claws as needed.

Ideal Home and Activity Level

This is an extremely active breed that requires a lot of daily exercise and environmental enrichment. The ideal home provides opportunities for climbing, pouncing, chasing toys, and otherwise fully exerting themselves each day. Cat trees, tunnels, scratching posts, puzzle feeders, and interactive play are excellent sources of activity. They excel in homes with children and other pets to interact with. The American Bobtail can live happily in apartments of any size given adequate exercise, but larger homes with outdoor access are ideal.

If left isolated or bored, the American Bobtail may exhibit destructive behaviors like scratching furniture, vocalizing excessively, or finding mischief. Providing appropriate outlets for their energy and intelligence is key to a well-behaved cat. They adapt readily to being leash trained and traveling.

Diet and Nutrition

There are no special nutritional requirements for the American Bobtail breed. Feed a commercial cat food diet formulated for their life stage – kitten, adult, or senior. Select a high-quality food that meets AAFCO standards. Both wet and dry foods are fine. Feed the recommended amounts based on the product and your cat’s weight and activity level. Avoid over or underfeeding. Provide fresh water daily. Discuss any diet or nutrition concerns with your veterinarian.

Known Health Issues

The American Bobtail is considered a generally robust and healthy breed. There are no known genetic diseases specific to the breed. Responsible breeders screen their breeding cats for common feline health problems. Any cat can be prone to issues like obesity, urinary tract infections, digestive issues, arthritis, and parasites. Providing excellent nutrition, regular vet visits, exercise, enrichment, and preventatives like flea/tick and deworming medications will help keep your American Bobtail healthy and happy.

Cats with very short tails can sometimes face issues like incomplete bowel or bladder control. However, this is unlikely in American Bobtails since their tails are only shortened, not completely missing. Their tail vertebrae and muscles are fully functional. Speak with your breeder and vet if you have any concerns.

A typical lifespan for the American Bobtail is 11-15 years or more with proper care.

American Bobtail Personality Traits and Temperament

The American Bobtail breed is known for its friendly, confident, intelligent and active personality. Each cat has their own unique quirks, but here are some of the most common behavioral traits of this breed:

  • They are extremely loyal and bonded with their families. Most Bobtails choose a favorite person and want to be constantly near them.
  • Very friendly with strangers, rarely shy or nervous in new situations. They are fearless and self-assured.
  • Affectionate and enjoy receiving petting and belly rubs, often sleeping in bed with their owners.
  • Extremely smart, easy to train and quick to learn routines. They enjoy puzzle toys and games that challenge them mentally.
  • Very energetic and athletic. The American Bobtail likes to be constantly active and needs interactive playtime every day.
  • Agile acrobats that love climbing cat trees, jumping, and pouncing on toys. Keeping them exercised prevents boredom and destructive behaviors.
  • Confident, often strutting with their tail held upright like a flagpole. They move with precision and have a visible swagger.
  • Many display dog-like behaviors such as playing fetch, leash walking, locating lost objects, and performing tricks.
  • Moderately vocal – they ‘talk’ more than some breeds but their voice is soft and pleasant sounding.

The American Bobtail’s friendly, outgoing personality makes them a fun loving family companion. With proper guidance, care and attention, these cats grow very close to their owners and thrive when they can actively share in family life.

Common Questions About the American Bobtail Breed

There are some frequently asked questions that prospective owners have about the unique American Bobtail cat. Here are answers to some of the most common inquiries.

How much does an American Bobtail cost?

Due to their still-uncommon status, moderate demand, and responsible breeding practices, American Bobtail kittens usually range from $600-$1200 USD from a reputable breeder. Price varies depending on location, breeder, lineage, and whether purchasing a pet or a breeder/show cat.

Are American Bobtails hypoallergenic?

No cat is 100% hypoallergenic. The American Bobtail produces normal levels of Fel D1 proteins that trigger allergies in sensitive people. If you have cat allergies, it’s recommended to spend time around American Bobtails to gauge your reaction. Some people find their allergies less aggravated, while others still have sensitivity.

What colors do American Bobtails come in?

This breed comes in all coat colors and patterns including solids, tabbies, calicos, tortoiseshells, bicolors, spotted, colorpoint, and more. Their eye color can be any shade too. While color preferences are subjective, all patterns and hues are accepted by breeding associations.

Do American Bobtails get along with dogs and other pets?

Yes, in general the American Bobtail does extremely well in multi-pet households. Early and ongoing socialization and training helps ensure harmonious relations. Their confidence helps them get along well with dogs, other cats, and small pets. As with any pet, supervision is still advised.

How long is the American Bobtail lifespan?

With proper care, nutrition, exercise and annual vet visits, the typical lifespan is 11-15 years or greater. Some cats live into their late teens or early 20s. There are currently no known hereditary health issues that severely impact longevity in this breed.

Are American Bobtails affectionate?

Absolutely! The American Bobtail is extremely affectionate and bonds very closely with their family. Most are constantly seeking attention and enjoying snuggling up in a lap to sleep or watch TV. They often follow their favorite person from room to room and hop into bed at night for cuddles. Their affectionate nature is one of the top reasons people love this breed.

Are American Bobtails lap cats?

The American Bobtail certainly can be described as a lap cat. Most enjoy lounging across their owner’s lap while being petted and stroked. They seem to never tire of human interaction and lap time. And when they finally settle in for a nap, chances are it will be in your lap. So if you want an affectionate, people-oriented cat that enjoys physical closeness, the American Bobtail fits the bill.

Are American Bobtails talkative?

They are definitely more vocal than some breeds, but not excessively so. The American Bobtail communicates vocally a bit more than the average cat. But their voices are described as pleasant, softer toned, and rarely obnoxious. They use a range of meows, chirps, and purrs to convey their moods and get your attention. But they likely won’t yowl relentlessly or meow for no reason. Their vocal tendencies can be curbed with training as well.

Do American Bobtails have health problems?

No serious health problems are associated with this breed. Reputable breeders screen for diseases like heart problems, cancer, and joint issues. Overall the American Bobtail is considered a sturdy, healthy breed. Tails are not prone to kinks, knots or fused vertebrae. Like any cat, staying fit, providing excellent nutrition, and visiting the vet annually will ensure your cat stays happy and healthy.

Quick Facts Summary About the American Bobtail Breed

Here is a quick summary table of key facts, statistics, and information about the unique American Bobtail cat breed.

Fact Description
Origin United States
Breed Founders John and Brenda Roberts, Dr. Roger Dimmick
Associations TICA, ACFA, CFA
Size Medium to large breed
Weight Typical adults 7-16 pounds
Coat Length Shorthair or longhair
Coat Colors All colors and patterns
Tail Length 1/3 to 1/2 normal cat tail length
Activity Level High, requires substantial daily exercise
Temperament Intelligent, loyal, friendly, athletic, acrobatic
Lifespan 11-15 years
Price $600 – $1200 USD
Grooming Weekly (shorthair) to daily (longhair) brushing
Shedding Moderate shedding
Hypoallergenic No
Cat Friendly Yes, with proper introductions
Dog Friendly Yes, when socialized together
Family Friendly Excellent, active breed for families
Apartment Living Does well with sufficient exercise and play time

Is the American Bobtail the Right Breed For You?

The friendly, confident, energetic American Bobtail makes a wonderful companion for the right owner. This athletic breed thrives when they can be part of an active family and have consistent opportunities to exercise their body and mind. They fit best with owners who have time to devote to energetic playing, cuddling, and interacting each day.

People who travel often or work long hours away from home may struggle to meet this breed’s needs for attention and activity. American Bobtails form close bonds and don’t do well left alone for long periods. Owners must be willing to make the time commitment this breed requires.

The American Bobtail gets along wonderfully with children, dogs, and other pets when properly introduced. Their intelligence makes them highly trainable. For the owner willing to provide adequate exercise, environmental enrichment, training, and TLC each day, the American Bobtail is a loyal, entertaining companion like no other. Are you ready to welcome this unique breed into your heart and home?


In conclusion, the American Bobtail is an uncommon but steadily growing cat breed that makes for a devoted family companion. They stand out for their naturally bobbed tails, shaggy coats, energetic yet affectionate personalities, intelligence, and overall sturdy health. When adopted from a responsible breeder and properly cared for, the American Bobtail is sure to bring years of fun and love into any household. Their one-of-a-kind appearance combined with their people-loving temperament make the American Bobtail a special breed worth learning about.