Origin: United States
Colour: any color
American Bobtail are a short-tailed cat, similar to a Stumpy Manx. It should not be confused with the wild species, the American Bobcat (Lynx rufus).
Domestic Breed: A short-tailed cat, similar to a Stumpy Manx. It should not be confused with the wild species, the American Bobcat (Lynx rufus).
Appearance: A stocky, long-haired cat with an abbreviated tail. The double coat appears in two lengths: long and medium. The head is broad and rounded with wide ears and large eyes. The tail may be straight or slightly curled and is always well-haired.(This description is for Type 2. below)
History: There appear to be several distinct origins for this breed. To put it another way, there seem to be at least three different breeds using this same name. They are as follows:
1. Writing in 1940, American zoologist Ida Mellen comments: 'The American domestic Bobtail Cat of the New England and Middle Atlantic States (called the Rabbit Cat) traces its ancestry to the Manx Cat, but the distribution of tailless cats is wide, covering the Crimea and other Parts of Russia, Japan, China, the Bismark Archipelago, the Malayan Archipelago, Burma and Siam...'. Nothing more seems to be known about this version of the American Bobtail.
2. A completely different source is given for the cat that is now widely recognized in pedigree circles as the true American Bobtail. The 'founding father' of this breed was a homeless male tabby kitten seen near an Indian Reservation in Arizona in the 1960s. A holidaying couple, John and Brenda Sanders, adopted him, christened him Yodie and took him home with them to Iowa. There, he eventually mated with their Siamese Cat, Mishi, producing a litter, some of which were short-tailed. One of these kittens grew up to mate with a 'cream point and white cat'. The kittens in this new litter were all short-tailed and they attracted the attention of Mindy Schultz, a friend of the Sanders family, who, in the 1970s, designated them as a new breed which she called the American Bobtail.
At first, these Bobtails had short coats, but when crossed with Himalayans, they produced thick-coated kittens. These kittens were to become the foundation stock of the breed.
Certain other crossing experiments resulted in completely tailless kittens, suggesting that the American Bobtail gene is similar to the Manx gene, which also gives rise to tails of varying length, from the Rumpy (no-tail) to the Stumpy (short-tail) to the long tail.
3. Thirdly, one author has recently claimed that there is another distinct form of American Bobtail in existence. This one is supposed to be the result of crosses between domestic cats and wild Bobcats that occurred in the late 1970s. Writing in 1992, Amy Shojai comments that 'Rose Estes has been breeding Bobtails for fourteen years....According to Rose, wild Bobcats interbreed most often with Siamese because the scent of the Siamese in season closely resembles the smell of the female Bobcat.'
Bearing in mind that the wild Bobcat belongs to a different genus (Lynx) from the domestic cat (Felis) , and is nearly twice as big, the idea that the two species would interbreed seems far-fetched, to say the least. However, before rejecting it out of hand, it is worth noting that Stanley Young, in his detailed study of the wild Bobtail published in 1958, had this to say about hybridization:
'There is evidence of a successful mating between a male Bobcat and a domestic cat at Sandy Creek, Texas during 1949. The offspring were observed by several persons in the area.' He also mentions a similar incident that occurred in 1954 in South Dakota. There, a black female domestic cat mated with a wild male Bobcat and in early June produced seven kittens. Three of the litter 'had bobtails, large feet, tufted ears, and were light grey in color with a speckling of black dots on the stomach, legs and sides. The ears were larger and hard and stiff. The tufts on them....were up to approximately a quarter of an inch in length. This litter of kittens lived until 27th June, 1954, when they were killed by a domestic tomcat.' It is impossible to tell whether these hybrid kittens would have been fertile or sterile when they became mature, but this report certainly makes the Rose Estes American Bobtails seem a little less unlikely.
It would seem from this that both the abbreviated tail and the name to go with it have cropped up more than once in the United States during the Twentieth Century. Lisa Black, writing about the Bobtail in 1994, confirms this, commenting: 'Many other reports exist of this type of cat being produced.' For the time being, however, we must accept Type 2. above as the 'official' American Bobtail for show purposes.
Personality: Terms used to describe this breed (Type 2.) include: friendly, patient, calm, watchful, intelligent, mischievous and good-natured. Inevitably, because of their lack of a balancing tail, they are not particularly fond of climbing. Vocally, they are described as having 'a scratchy little rambling voice which makes some people ask "When will they learn how to meow?"'. They are said to be more doglike than other cat breeds.
Colour forms: All colours are acceptable in this breed.
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