Skip navigation

American Bobtail Cat Facts

Share article on Facebook Share article on Pinterest Share article on Twitter (opens new window)
orange and white American bobtail tabby cat with a dark collar

Although the American Bobtail’s appearance resembles that of a wild cat, the Bobtail’s personality is anything but. These domestic cats are outgoing, empathetic, and they make for excellent companions.


Even though it isn’t known for certain how long Bobtail cats have been around, the American Bobtail’s first record is from the 1960s. While John and Brenda Sanders were vacationing in Arizona, they crossed paths with a bobbed-tail cat. Charmed by this feline’s good looks and great personality, the couple named him Yodie and brought him back to their Iowa home.

The Sanders’ other cat, a female Siamese named Mishi, ended up having a litter of kittens with Yodie. Many of these kittens also had shortened tails. Because there was no history of the short tail gene in the Siamese, the bobtail gene was determined to be dominant. In just a short time, Mindy Schultz, a friend of the Sanders’, plus a few other breeders, took an interest in breeding these short-tailed cats.

However, in just a few decades, many of the American Bobtails were becoming inbred and unhealthy. Near the 1980s, a new breeding effort began. This time, the goal was to create a healthier cat with a stronger resemblance to Yodie.

Compared to some cat breeds that have been around for hundreds or thousands of years, it’s understandable why so many people consider American Bobtails to be a “new” breed. That being said, these cats are relatively rare, and it’s not often that you will find one.


There’s no doubt about it—many American Bobtail characteristics are unique to this breed. Most notably, these cats have a shortened tail which averages between 1-4 inches in length. Their tails can also appear to be straight, slightly curved, kinked, or bumpy along the sides.

The American Bobtail’s striking appearance makes them look as though they are wild. Their beautiful coat, which can come in both a short or long length, can be found in practically any color or pattern. The same goes for these cats’ eye color.

The average American Bobtail size is 7-16 pounds, with males typically weighing more than females. These cats usually stand close to 10 inches to their shoulder. Though these are the mean sizes, your cat could always measure above or below these standards. The expected American Bobtail lifespan is 13-18 years.

Besides their great looks, the American Bobtail personality is equally as impressive. These cats are playful, friendly, and intelligent. They adore spending time with their family, and they typically get along great with kids, dogs, and other cats.

Bobtails enjoy simple entertainment and fun, but they also appreciate a mental challenge. If you bring one of these cats into your home, you may find that puzzle games are worth your money. Chances are you will even be able to teach your feline friend some cool tricks and commands.

These cats are also known to be empathetic, so much so that they are often used as therapy cats. After being around an American Bobtail, there’s no doubt that you will quickly discover why they make such loving companions. After living with one, they will become attuned to your emotions and provide their calming presence whenever you need it.

Another personality trait that sets these cats apart from many other breeds is that they are known for being adaptable. American Bobtails can be happy living in a small apartment or large house, and they are content with a family of one or a large family. Due to their cool and collected nature, these cats consistently do well with traveling. Whether you are an occasional adventurer, seasonal RVer, or a full-time truck driver, the American Bobtail can make for the perfect road and travel companion.

These cats are not overly vocal, but they will typically let out a little chirp, meow, or purr when they want your attention. When you are busy around the house, don’t be surprised if your American Bobtail is right by your side, and when you sit down, they may curl up in your lap and rest with you. While these cats enjoy spending time with their family, they are not a breed that requires constant attention. They can still be independent and are capable of entertaining themselves.

Taking your cat on a trip? Read up on some cat-travel tips first.

Grooming and Care

Overall, an American Bobtail’s grooming needs are relatively routine. Their teeth will need to be brushed weekly, and their ears should be check and cleaned every few weeks. Although cats wear down their nails naturally, you will most likely still need to trim them every month.

Your cat will also need to be brushed regularly. How frequently this needs to occur will depend upon your pal’s coat length and how much they shed. Longer hair can be more prone to knotting, but all coat lengths are prone to shedding.

Brushing your cat even a few times a week can help reduce the amount of hair that will end up on your furniture, floor, and clothes. Plus, a weekly brushing can help keep your feline’s coat clean and healthy. 

As part of your cat’s daily routine, you will need to provide them with a healthy diet. Obesity is a serious health risk that can affect any cat. Not to mention, once your cat becomes overweight, a slew of other health issues can quickly arise.

To help combat weight issues and to keep your cat a lean, mean, purring machine, be sure only to feed your friend the recommended food amount. It can also be beneficial not to give your pal human food and keep their daily treat allotment to a minimum. If you are unsure which type of food is best for your cat, be sure to talk to your veterinarian about recommendations.

Another ideal way to keep your American Bobtail healthy, both mentally and physically, is to provide them with daily exercise and mental stimulation. Activities can include anything from playing games to running around the house to learning new tricks. You may also discover that one of the best ways to provide entertainment and company for your pal is to get them another four-legged friend.

Common Health Issues

Even though they are comparatively healthy, American Bobtails are still susceptible to developing health conditions like any other cat breed. According to our claims data,^ the top American Bobtail health problems include,

  1. Weight loss
  2. Diabetes
  3. Hyperthyroidism
  4. Kidney disease
  5. Ear infections

Veterinarians have also discovered that American Bobtails born completely tailless can run a higher risk for having back and bowel irregularities.

Despite these conditions being the most common for American Bobtails, there is no guarantee that your cat will develop any or all of these issues. It can be beneficial to familiarize yourself with the signs of these problems, but one of the best ways to keep on top of your pet’s health is to schedule a yearly appointment with their veterinarian.

Even if your cat appears to be in perfect health, it is essential that you still take them for their checkup. More often than not, it’s rather difficult to tell if a cat isn’t feeling well by merely looking at them. In the instance that a health issue is to arise, these annual visits provide an increased chance that your veterinarian will be able to diagnose and treat said problem earlier on.

Fun Facts

American Bobtails are a fun and fascinating cat breed. Although they have been around for over half a century, there is still much to learn about these rare felines.

  • There are multiple types of Bobtail cat breeds, each with a distinct personality and appearance. Some of these cats include the Japanese Bobtail from Asia, the Manx cat from the Isle of Man, and the Kurilian Bobtail from Russia.
  • American Bobtails are said to be fascinated by shiny objects. This means that you should be mindful of where you leave your jewelry when you take it off and where you keep your loose change.
  • These felines are like the Houdini of the cat world. They have been known to escape closed rooms and open doors. If you don’t want your American Bobtail in a particular room, you may want to consider investing in a child-proof lock. And for your cat’s safety, it is best to make sure that they cannot open the door to the outside.
  • There is an urban legend about how American Bobtails came about. Legend says that a domestic tabby cat mated with a wild bobcat, and the result was the Bobtailed cat. While this could theoretically occur, the chances are that the first-generation male hybrids would be sterile—so Yodie couldn’t have offspring if he were part bobcat. In actuality, though, the shortened tail is a spontaneous genetic mutation that happened to be dominant and may be related to the Manx gene.
  • Many people describe these cats to be dog-like in their personality—some will even enjoy playing fetch. If you’ve ever wanted a Golden Retriever, but wish it could stay the size of a cat, then the American Bobtail may be the perfect choice for you.

These high-spirited, adventurous cats are such a delight to be around. Just be careful because once you meet one, chances are you will want one.

Name Suggestions

Having first been discovered in Arizona, why not choose a name for your cat that is inspired by the Grand Canyon state? Check out our list of suggested names. 

  • Wren
  • Catalina
  • Cruz
  • Gilbert
  • Phoenix
  • Rio
  • Reid
  • Willow
  • Rocky
  • Yuma

Are you still stuck between a couple of names? Perhaps the perfect solution is to get two cats. Then you don’t have to choose.

^Internal Claims Data, 2015-2020

The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian. 


black and white boston terrier being petted while resting on a walk

Brachycephalic Dog Breeds

Being the parent to a brachycephalic dog means you need to take a few precautionary steps to ensure your pup stays in their best health.


A Schnauzer with a red bandana is sticking their tongue out and sniffing a treat

DIY Pet Projects

Get some inspiration for DIY pet projects, from homemade dog and cat treats to toys, doghouses, and cat towers.


A calico cat sniffs a piggy bank on the floor

Financing Your Pet's Care: How to Budget, Save, and Get Help with Veterinary Expenses

Learn all about financing your pet's care. From routine to unexpected, we'll help you navigate the options available for covering pet healthcare costs.