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American Bobtail

Cat Breeds

American bobtails are known for their wild appearance and short bobbed tails. These cats make loving, loyal, and playful pets. Learn more about owning an American bobtail.

American Bobtail Overview

OFFICIAL NAME American Bobtail
COMMON NAME American Bobtail
PET HEIGHT 9 to 10 inches
PET WEIGHT 7 to 16 pounds
LIFESPAN 13 to 15 years
GOOD WITH cats, children, dogs, families, seniors
TEMPERAMENT affectionate, bold, sociable
VOCAL LEVEL frequent
COAT LENGTH long, short
COLORS black / ebony, blue / gray, chocolate / brown / sable, cinnamon, cream / beige / tan, fawn, lavender / silver, lilac, red / orange, white
OTHER TRAITS easy to groom, easy to train, friendly toward humans, friendly toward other pets, friendly toward strangers, good for first-time pet owners, good lap cat, high potential for weight gain, prone to health issues, strong loyalty tendencies, tolerates being picked up

American bobtails are known for their short bobbed tails, rugged appearance, and playful personalities. They have been referred to as the "golden retriever" of cat breeds thanks to their affectionate and friendly personalities. These cats love to be around humans and have a sweet, gentle nature that makes them wonderful companions.

American bobtails are a relatively uncommon breed. Because they're considered rare, these cats can cost around $600–$1,200 from a reputable breeder.


You can identify an American bobtail by her tail first and foremost. These cats have a stubby, bobbed tail that's only around one-third the length of a normal cat's tail. No two tails are exactly the same, but they're usually 1–4 inches long and can be straight, kinked, or bumped along the edge, according to the breed standard.

The American bobtail is a naturally occurring cat breed, which shows in their wild, rugged appearance. This breed can be short- or long-haired, with either dense fur or long, shaggy coats. These cats come in all colors and patterns. American bobtails are a high-shedding breed and not considered hypoallergenic—in fact, they're likely to cause a flare-up in those with allergies.

American bobtails have large, deep-set eyes that are almond-shaped and can come in any color. They have long back legs and a large, athletic body that typically weighs between 7–16 pounds. These cats are sometimes slow maturing and can take longer than your typical cat to reach full adulthood, around 2–3 years.


American bobtails are often described as sweet, affectionate, and docile. These pets make great companions and lap cats, and they do well with older kids and cat-friendly pet playmates.

"American bobtails are known as cats that act more like dogs than cats," says Sarah Wooten, DVM. "They are very friendly, social, curious, good with kids, have a wide range of vocal communications, and form deep bonds with their humans."

American bobtails are smarties and need to be kept mentally and physically active. Don't be surprised when he chirps and trills, letting you know he wants some one-on-one playtime.

"Potential owners should be prepared to provide a high level of enrichment through climbing opportunities, pouncing play, food puzzles, toys, training, lots of human interactions and even leash walking," Wooten says. "These cats require the same level of attention and exercise as a healthy young beagle dog."

More than anything, your American bobtail wants to love you—and receive your love! If you're looking for a kind companion pet, this breed is a great fit. These gentle felines are ideal for families.

Living Needs

American bobtails love to be loved and have tons of love to give in return. These sweet cats need lots of human interaction and don't do well when left alone for long periods of time. Busy families be aware: Your bobtail will need constant affection. But if you spend a lot of time on the road, the American bobtail travels well and makes an excellent traveling companion.

These social cats get along with pretty much everyone and don't mind homes with frequent visitors. In fact, they'll probably bolt to the door to greet guests before you do! Because they crave interaction, they'll try to make friends with just about anyone—you'll need to keep an eye on your American bobtail to make sure he doesn't head outside for a meet and greet with less-friendly animals and people. To satisfy your kitty's curious nature and social needs, you can leash-train him and take him on strolls around the neighborhood.

Although they're not as active as other breeds, they do have strong, athletic bodies. American bobtails have especially muscular hind legs and can jump up to 6 feet. Providing your pet with a tall cat tree will give him somewhere safe and comfy to land when he feels like getting some air.


Grooming needs for your American bobtail are fairly simple. You'll need to brush this breed once or twice a week to keep their coats smooth and healthy. Make sure to regularly trim your cat's nails and clean their ears frequently as well. Wooten says American bobtails need their teeth brushed a couple times a week as well.

Because they're so intelligent, these cats are typically easy to train to do simple tasks like using a litter box or a scratching post. They can also be trained to play games of fetch and walk on a harness, and need to be kept mentally engaged with lots of interactive toys.

Socialization should be simple with this easygoing breed. American bobtails introduced to people and pets early are usually easy to get along with and welcoming of unfamiliar faces.

Your American bobtail should be fed a diet of high-quality cat food recommended by your vet. Be careful not to overfeed your cat, as it could lead to obesity.


American bobtails have a lifespan of 13–15 years and are a relatively healthy breed thanks to their natural development. But, like all cats, Wooten says there are some health issues owners need to keep an eye out for.

"As with all cats, American bobtails are susceptible to obesity and dental disease, and you can go a long way toward preventing diseases by just keeping your American bobtail fit and trim, feeding the highest quality food you can afford, and keeping their teeth sparkly and clean," she says.

Similar to another tailless breed, the Manx, American bobtails without tails can have spinal or bowel issues.

"The American bobtail is prone to develop hip dysplasia with age, a hereditary disease that has the potential to cause lameness and arthritis of the hip joints," Kurt Venator, DVM, PhD and Chief Veterinary Officer at Purina says. "In addition, the tailless American bobtail has been known to develop a spinal condition that may affect their ability to control defecation."

Reputable breeders will screen for health issues in your American bobtail kitten, but it's important to have them screened regularly into adulthood, as all cats can develop health conditions as they age.

"Older American bobtails are susceptible to kidney disease and hyperthyroidism, which are common older cat disorders," Wooten says.


The American bobtail we know today began naturally, with feral domestic cats born with bobbed tails, according to the Cat Fanciers' Association. One of the first known instances of attempted breeding was in the 1960s when a vacationing couple, John and Brenda Sanders, found a bobtail cat in Arizona and let him mate with their female cat back home in Iowa.

In the late '60s, experienced breeders began to mate these bobtails from all over the country, working to perfect the American bobtail breed. Breeders have worked over time to refine the American bobtail into a companion pet with the appearance of a wild bobtail, but a sweeter and more gentle temperament.

No pedigreed breeds were used to establish the American bobtail breed. Their wide, natural gene pool gives these cats their rugged, outdoorsy appearance and a hardy resilience in terms of health and attitude. The American bobtail is considered a relatively new breed, recognized by the Cat Fanciers' Association in 2000.

Fun Facts

American bobtails can be born without any tail at all. Those kittens are called "rumpies."
The dog-like American bobtails will sometimes wag their tails to express happiness.