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Home > Cats > Cat Breeds > American Bobtail Cat: Pictures, Temperament & Traits

American Bobtail Cat: Pictures, Temperament & Traits

american bobtail-cat_Shutterstock_Mary-McDonald

The largest domesticated cat breed, the American Bobtail, has a wild appearance but a friendly demeanor. The origin of the species dates to the 1960s when a seal point Siamese was bred with a bobtailed feral cat. Unlike other breeds, the American Bobtail was not developed with pedigrees. Breeders selected mates from domesticated felines with desirable traits such as friendliness, shortened tails, muscular frames, and exotic appearance. Because the American Bobtail has a diverse gene pool, the cats have fewer medical vulnerabilities than other breeds.

Breed Overview


10–14 inches


7–16 pounds


12–16 years


Black, cream, lilac, tan, blue, gray, red, white, orange, brown, sable, silver, fawn, and color combinations

Suitable for

Families, singles, travelers, families with several pets


Friendly, loyal, intelligent

Contrary to the myth that Bobtails were created by mating feral cats with Bobcats, the Bobcat’s behavior contrasts its wild-cat appearance. The animal enjoys playing games and spending time with its family, and it’s not afraid to greet and play with visitors to its home. With muscular hind legs longer than its front legs, the cat is an exceptional leaper that can jump over 6 feet. Although Bobtails require plenty of toys and climbing obstacles to keep them mentally and physically stimulated, they adapt to practically any home environment and love snuggling with their families on lazy afternoons.

American Bobtail Characteristics

High-energy cat will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy cats require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a cat to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train cats are more willing and skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Cats that are harder to train are usually more stubborn and will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some cat breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every cat will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds' potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some cat breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other animals. More social cats have a tendency to rub up on strangers for scratches, while less social cats shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your cat and expose them to lots of different situations.


American Bobtail Kittens

red american bobtail kittens
Image Credit: Ievgennia Miroshnichenko, Shutterstock

The American Bobtail is a newer breed, but it’s in high demand. Since it’s rarer than other species, you may have problems finding a reputable breeder. However, rescue organizations are excellent sources for kittens and adults. If you adopt an American Bobtail from a shelter, the adoption fee will typically include vaccinations, deworming, and microchip activation. Mixed Bobtail cats are more common at shelters than purebreds, but they look and act similar to the full-blooded varieties.

When you bring an American Bobtail into your home, be ready to have a loyal kitty by your side. They are very intelligent and active, making them perfect for training. They are generally healthy cats, meaning that they should grow into happy and healthy cats as long as they have regular vet checkups and a nutritious diet.

Temperament & Intelligence of the American Bobtail

Are American Bobtails Good for Families? 👪

As one of the most affectionate breeds, American Bobtails are ideally suited for families of all sizes. Because of their size and muscular build, Bobtails must be closely watched when they interact with young children. They do not seem to have a shred of aggression, but they could accidentally bump into or knock over an infant during playtime.

When raised with children, they develop strong bonds with their younger family members and follow the kids wherever they go. Children can even count on their Bobtails to join them in hide and seek games. Although they require daily exercise, they have a moderate energy level that allows them to enjoy relaxing at home with lazy humans.

Whether you live in a house or an apartment, Bobtails can adapt to any environment as long you provide enough entertainment and love. They’re known to suffer from separation anxiety, and they can become destructive when they’re left alone for too long. One of the advantages of owning a Bobtail is that you do not have to leave your kitty at home when you go on vacation. Bobtails enjoy traveling, and they’re happy to join their families on camping trips and long road adventures.

Bobtails are often employed as therapy animals, and they seem more sensitive towards humans suffering from illnesses. If you’re at home sick, the Bobtail will probably stay by your side until your condition improves.

Do American Bobtails Get Along with Other Pets?

The American Bobtail is the perfect choice for a new pet if you have other pets at home. Bobtails almost seem to identify more with dogs than cats, but they get along well and quickly develop friendships with both species. Smaller pets, like rodents and birds, are not the best companions for Bobtails. Their wild lineage provides an increased prey drive, and they’ll chase down any smaller creature that crosses their path. If you have hamsters or birds, it’s best to keep them separated from the cat to avoid any incidents.



Things to Know When Owning an American Bobtail:

Food & Diet Requirements

American Bobtails can be pickier about their meals than other cats, and owners often have to experiment with different brands before finding one their pets can eat. Feeding a high-protein diet with moderate crude fat levels and low carbohydrates is ideal for Bobtails.

Several brands promote their meals as high protein, but it’s vital to examine the source of the protein. Unlike dogs, Bobtails and most cat breeds benefit from a carnivorous diet similar to the food enjoyed by their ancestors. Primary protein sources should come from animals rather than plants, and the carbohydrate content should be low enough to prevent issues with obesity. Feeding table scraps and human treats is unnecessary and can result in the cat becoming overweight.

Dry food is denser and contains more protein, but it helps to add wet food to the Bobtail’s diet to ensure it stays hydrated. Although it’s not always as nutritious as dry brands, wet food contains 70% to 80% moisture. If you’re prepared to spend more than the typical premium brands, you can join a delivery service that sends high-quality fresh meals to your doorstep.

Exercise 🐈

Bobtails require daily exercise, but they’re also happy to join their families when they’re relaxing at home. At least 30 minutes of indoor play can keep them stimulated, but you can also train them on a leash to join you on daily walks. Since Bobtails are skilled climbers and leapers, you can purchase a cat tree with scratching posts to keep them amused and prevent damage to your furniture.

If you have a fenced-in yard, you can install a cat run along the fence to provide daily exercise. However, a Bobtail is more likely to escape confined spaces than other breeds, and you have to ensure your fence is modified with netting or roll bars to keep the animal from escaping. Bobtails have been known to crawl out of their carriers when their owners forget to secure the latches.

The American Bobtail
Image Credit: lindarczyk, Pixabay

Training 🧶

If you’re hoping to find a cat that you can train like an intelligent dog, the American Bobtail is the breed for you. They learn tricks quickly but can become distracted if an insect or small creature piques their interest. Unlike other cats who reach adulthood in 12 months, Bobtails take 2 to 3 years to mature. This slow maturity rate means you can teach the animal new techniques like walking on a leash or retrieving a toy later than other species.

Grooming ✂️

Bobtails can have long double coats or short double coats, but each requires weekly grooming. Brushing the cat at least once or twice weekly will keep the fur clean and shiny. Although they wear their nails down from scratching and climbing, they typically need their nails clipped twice a month.

Keeping their ears clean is also essential to prevent ear infections. Use a moistened microfiber towel to remove dirt and excess wax from the ears gently. Cotton swabs should be avoided for ear cleaning because they can irritate the ear canal and leave bits of cotton behind.

american bobtail_OrangeGroup_Shutterstock
Image Credit: OrangeGroup, Shutterstock

Health and Conditions 🏥

Due to the “natural selection” methods used for breeding Bobtails, the cats are less vulnerable to severe medical problems than cats from smaller gene pools. Although tailless Bobtails can live healthy lives, they should visit the doctor at least twice a year to ensure they do not develop spinal conditions or problems with incontinence.

Minor Conditions
  • Ear infections,
  • Diabetes

Serious Conditions
  • Kidney disease,
  • Hyperthyroidism,
  • Bowel conditions (more common with tailless cats)

divider-catMale vs. Female

Females usually weigh around 12 pounds, and males can be as heavy as 16 pounds or more. Besides the weight difference, males and females seem to possess the same loving and playful nature. Whether you choose a boy or girl, a Bobtail kitten will be an amazing pet who soon becomes a part of the family.

3 Little-Known Facts About the American Bobtail

1. American Bobtails make excellent traveling companions.

Cats are not known as excellent travel companions, and most breeds cannot settle down or refrain from crying on long road trips. The American Bobtail is the exception to the rule, and the cat has become a favorite partner of long-haul truckers. Unlike other breeds who detest road travel, Bobtails remain calm and quiet, and some cats fall asleep on long excursions.

2. The gene responsible for the bobbed tails is dominant.

Unlike the Japanese Bobtail, whose gene for bobbed tails is recessive, American Bobtails carry a dominant gene for the trait. Although most Bobtails have short tails, some are born without tails. Tailless cats are more susceptible to spinal cord issues, and they’re usually excluded from breeder’s stock to protect the health of future generations. However, some tailless cats live long, healthy lives without experiencing severe medical problems.

3. American Bobtails have canine-like personalities.

Because of their devotion to their human families and propensity for games and leashed walks, American Bobtails have been compared to dogs, and some animal lovers refer to them as the “Golden Retriever of cats.” Bobtails are excellent candidates for leash training, and most Bobtail owners believe their pets enjoy their daily walks around the neighborhood.

Cats of every breed enjoy playing games with humans, but Bobtails resemble canines when they chase down toys and happily return them to the owner. They often carry their toys around the house in their mouths, and they do not hesitate when you toss an object for them to retrieve.

Another similarity the breed has with canines is tail wagging. When Bobtails are excited during play or yearning for attention, they wag their tails. Like most housebroken dogs, Bobtails sometimes stand near their leash or harness until their humans take them outside to walk.

red american bobtail cat
Image Credit: Ievgeniia Miroshnichenko, Shutterstock


Final Thoughts

It’s unfortunate that American Bobtails are rarer than other breeds because they’re more likely to convert pet parents, who previously preferred dogs, into lifelong cat lovers. They’re one of the most loving and loyal felines, and they like spending time with humans and other pets instead of resting in hiding spots. With a muscular body and powerful legs, they can keep you amused with their acrobatic feats and love of silly child-like games.

As long as they’re fed a nutritious, high-protein diet and receive daily exercise, American Bobtails can live 16 years or more. They only need moderate grooming, and they can adapt to living spaces of any size. If you’re looking for a cat with the mind of a canine and the rugged appearance of a Bobcat, the American Bobtail is the perfect pet for your home and family.

Featured Image Credit: Mary McDonald, Shutterstock

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