Published on June 21, 2011
He might have a bit of a wild expression, but at heart the American Bobtail is a self-assured, affectionate cat who loves his family and is friendly toward guests if he has been well socialized. He is a good choice for families with older children who will treat him respectfully, but toddlers should be supervised so they don’t pull his whiskers or what there is of his tail. He is also perfectly capable of getting along with cat-friendly dogs in the household.
His favorite hobbies include playing fetch, going for walks on leash and stealing shiny objects. He’s a good traveler and makes an excellent therapy cat.
The American Bobtail is well suited to any home with people who will love him and care for him. Keep him indoors to protect him from cars, diseases spread by other cats and attacks from other animals.
More Quick Facts
- The American Bobtail has a very short tail, the result of a natural mutation.
- The American Bobtail has a shaggy medium-length to long coat that can come in any color or pattern.
The History of the American Bobtail
Cats seem to frequently develop interesting genetic mutations. We see them for ears that fold forward, ears that fold back, curly coats, wire coats, and a tail-less or bobtail appearance. The American Bobtail came into being in the 1960s, when a Siamese cat was crossed with short-tailed male tabby. The kittens produced from that mating had kittens of their own, many with the distinctive bob-tail look, about half the length of a normal cat tail, and a new breed was born.
American Bobtail Temperament and Personality
If you’ve always wanted a dog in a cat’s body, the American Bobtail is the breed for you. He is easygoing, affectionate and adaptable. Whether you live in a noisy home with lots of kids and other pets or have a more quiet lifestyle, he will settle in quickly. It’s not unusual to find him traveling with long-distance truck drivers or people seeing the country in their RV. Some psychotherapists have included American Bobtails in their treatment programs because of the cats’ sensitivity to human emotions.
Whatever his lifestyle, the American Bobtail enjoys company, whether that of humans, other cats, or even dogs. They get along with children and will play fetch and learn tricks. Only moderately active, they are easy to live with and are not an “in your face” kind of cat.
The American Bobtail is highly intelligent. Challenge his brain and keep him interested in life by teaching him tricks and providing him with puzzle toys that will reward him with kibble or treats when he learns how to manipulate them.
Always choose a kitten from a breeder who raises litters in the home and handles them from an early age. Meet at least one and ideally both of the parents to ensure that they have nice temperaments.
What You Need to Know About American Bobtail Health
All cats have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit diseases. Any breeder who claims that her breed has no health or genetic problems is not being candid with you. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on kittens, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her kittens are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons.
The American Bobtail is generally healthy, but tail-less American Bobtails can have spinal problems that affect their ability to control defecation. It is always wise to buy from a breeder who provides a written health guarantee.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new kitten into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Keeping an American Bobtail at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to protect his overall health. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier cat for life.
The Basics of Grooming an American Bobtail
Brush the American Bobtail at least twice a week to remove dead hair and keep his coat shiny and healthy. A rubber curry brush or a slicker brush is a good grooming tool for his coat. The only other care he needs is weekly nail trimming and occasional ear cleaning.
Choosing a American Bobtail Breeder
You want your American Bobtail to be happy and healthy so you can enjoy your time with him, so do your homework before you bring him home. For more information on the history, personality and looks of the American Bobtail, or to find breeders, visit the websites of the Cat Fanciers Association, Cats Center Stage, the Fanciers Breeder Referral List, and The International Cat Association.
A reputable breeder will abide by a code of ethics that prohibits sales to pet stores and wholesalers and outlines the breeder’s responsibilities to their cats and to buyers. Choose a breeder who has performed the health certifications necessary to screen out genetic health problems to the extent that is possible, as well as one who raises kittens in the home. Kittens who are isolated can become fearful and skittish and may be more difficult to socialize later in life.
Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include kittens always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any kitten, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your feline friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and unhealthy catteries can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick kitten, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy kittens.
Put at least as much effort into researching your kitten as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Be patient. Depending on what you are looking for, you may have to wait six months or more for the right kitten to be available. Many breeders won't release kittens to their new homes until they are between 12 and 16 weeks of age.
Before you buy a kitten, consider whether an adult American Bobtail might be a better choice for your lifestyle. Kittens are loads of fun, but they’re also a lot of work and can be destructive until they reach a somewhat more sedate adulthood. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health. If you are interested in acquiring an adult cat instead of a kitten, ask breeders about purchasing a retired show or breeding cat or if they know of an adult cat who needs a new home.
Adopting a Cat from American Bobtail Rescue or a Shelter
The American Bobtail is an unusual and uncommon breed. It is unlikely that you will find one in a shelter or through a rescue group, but it doesn’t hurt to look. Sometimes pedigreed cats end up at the shelter after losing their home to an owner’s death, divorce or change in economic situation. Check the listings on Petfinder, Adopt-a-Pet.com or the Fanciers Breeder Referral List, and ask breeders if they know of a American Bobtail who is in need of a new home.
Wherever you acquire your American Bobtail, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with “pet lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the cat from both understand your rights and recourses.
Kitten or adult, take your American Bobtail to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.