Affectionate, intelligent, and distinctive, the American Bobtail cat makes a wonderful pet. Named for their characteristically short tails, these cats get along with adults, kids, and even dogs, making them a great addition to animal-loving families.
If you’re looking for a new pet, or just want to know more about this unusual breed, read on, as we run through everything you need to know about the American Bobtail. Below, we discuss this cat’s peculiar history, personality, care requirements, and more. We’ve even thrown in a few quick facts about the Bobtail, for a handy overview.
History of the American Bobtail Cat
Unlike many cat breeds, the American Bobtail can trace its origin to a single moment. In the 1960s, Iowa couple John and Brenda Sanders took a vacation in Arizona. Here, they stumbled across short-tailed cat, and instantly fell in love.
The couple felt so strongly about the cat that they took him home at the end of their trip, and named him Yodi. Back in Iowa, Yodi had kittens with John and Brenda’s mixed-breed female cat, resulting in a litter that all shared their father’s distinctively short tail.
Soon enough, friends and family took notice of these unusual kitties. When they were old enough, some of the litter were bred with longhaired color point cats, resulting in the first official American Bobtails.
As time went on, long and short-haired varieties of the Bobtail were bred in all manner of colors and patterns, resulting in the diverse breed we see today.
Although cropped tails are a natural genetic variation, and have popped up now and then throughout feline history, this was the first time that Bobtails had been deliberately bred. Eventually, this led to the Bobtail being officially recognized by the American Cat Fanciers’ Association (ACFA) in 2000.
Quick Facts About the American Bobtail Cat
Below are a few important facts about the American Bobtail cat that would-be owners should know:
- American Bobtail are know for their ‘wild-looking appearance’, characterized by their sturdy frame, tufted ears, and ‘hunting gaze’
- The American Bobtail is sometimes described as dog-like – they love to play games and can even be taken for walks
- The American Bobtail cat has higher than average intelligence for a feline
- Both long and short-haired versions of the Bobtail exist, and are recognized by the ACFA
- A healthy American Bobtail weighs between eight and 13 pounds
- The average American Bobtail cat has a lifespan between 11 and 15 years
- Thanks to their adaptable nature, the American Bobtail cat is great at travelling
- Bobtail cats enjoy interactive cat toys, and are even smart enough to learn tricks
- Despite their lustrous coats, the American Bobtail is fairly low maintenance when it comes to grooming, and only requires brushing once or twice per week
- American Bobtails can be kept as indoor cats or given access to the great outdoors
- When excited, Bobtails may wag their tail
- Unlike other domestic breeds, American Bobtail cats are slow to reach maturity, taking as long as two or three years
- Bobtails are generally a robust breed, and no more prone to any feline health issues than average
Things You Should Know
Now that we’ve covered some basic information about the breed, it’s time to delve into more detail about these fascinating cats.
Below we run discuss some important information for potential owners, from health concerns and feeding to grooming and other care.
American Bobtails are generally healthy, robust cats. They are not prone to any particular health issues more than other cats, and have a particularly long lifespan for domestic cats, regularly stretching to 15 years.
That being said, domestic cats in general are prone to some health conditions more than others. Below are a few common feline health problems that every owner should be aware of:
- Respiratory tract illness
Like humans, cats are susceptible to the odd cold, flu, or chest infection. Look out for coughing, sneezing, and discharge from the nose. These issues often resolve on their own, but if symptoms persist for more than a week, or your cat is struggling to breathe, take them to the vet immediately. In rare cases, your kitty may actually be suffering from asthma when they persistently exhibit cold-like symptoms.
This condition, which affects the thyroid glands, can be triggered by a number of causes – often a tumour. It causes the thyroid to produce too much hormone, resulting in symptoms such as weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, and poor coat condition. How hyperthyroidism is treated will depend upon its root cause, but cats can have a good prognosis with dietary changes, iodine therapy, or long-term medication.
- Heart disease
When a cat’s heart isn’t working as effectively as it should, heart disease occurs. This can be caused by a fault in the heart’s structure that the cat is born with, or develop later in life, usually as a thickening of the heart walls. Symptoms of feline heart disease include lethargy or general weakness, shortness of breath, fainting, coughing, and panting. One in ten domestic cats will develop heart disease over the course of their life, so it’s vital that owners are aware of the signs and seek veterinary help as soon as possible.
- Digestive tract issues
In a cat’s digestive tract, a few different things can go wrong. Infections, parasites, tumors, and lodged foreign bodies are the most common digestive issues the average domestic cat might encounter. If your cat is vomiting, experiencing diarrhea, bloated, or has a sudden change in appetite, chances are that something is wrong in their digestive tract. If you notice any of these symptoms and they persist for a few days, it’s time to call the vet. If you know your cat has eaten something they shouldn’t, though, it’s important to seek veterinary attention straight away. Obstructions in the digestive tract can be extremely harmful if not dealt with quickly.
- Cystitis and kidney disease
Cats are obligate carnivores, and occasionally their high protein diets can occasionally be tough on the kidneys, making them vulnerable to conditions like kidney stones. Symptoms of kidney and urinary tract conditions include straining to urinate, bloody urine, and your cat relieving themselves in unusual places.
To help your feline friend avoid cystitis and kidney disease, it’s important to ensure they have access to plenty of fresh water. If you don’t think your cat is drinking enough, switch them to a wet diet to up their fluid intake, and consider purchasing a cat water fountain for them to drink from. In the wild, cats would typically avoid drinking still water, as this could be stagnant.
Like us humans, cats can suffer from allergies, often to certain food ingredients. Common allergies for cats include grains, soy, and certain types of meat and fish. Cats suffering from allergies may bloat or vomit after eating, and often experience itchy skin. Luckily, your cat’s allergic reactions can typically be managed by a change in diet.
Although these are the most common health conditions your cat can encounter, it’s important to bear in mind that they’re not the be-all and end-all. If you notice anything out of the ordinary with regards to your Bobtail’s health, be sure to take them to a trusted vet as soon as you can.
Feeding your American Bobtail cat an appropriate diet in the right portions is vital if they’re to have a healthy and happy life. What this means will depend on their age and activity level.
Below is a guide to choosing what to feed, how much to feed, and how often to feed:
- Type of food
An adult cat will require a diet that’s at least 26% protein, while kittens need a slightly higher proportion of 30%. When selecting a food for your Bobtail, always check the label carefully – it should display the food’s protein and fat content, helping you to make an informed decision.
Wet cat food is usually a better option than dry cat food. It’s less fatty than dry food, which means you can feed your cat slightly larger portions. This helps to keep your pet’s appetite in check, and helps avoid overfeeding with snacks and treats between meals.
Whatever flavor you choose, look out for a food where animal protein is the number one ingredient. Unlike dogs, cats should have a diet that’s almost entirely meat-based to stay at their healthiest.
It’s also a good idea to watch out for foods rich in omega fatty acids. Cats require a diet with a fat content around 10%, and omega fatty acids have the bonus of supporting hair and skin health.
- Portion sizes
Because the American Bobtail is a fairly large cat, they require a little more food than your average domestic breed. You should generally feed your cat about one ounce of wet food each day per pound of body weight.
For the Ameircan Bobtail, this means feeding between eight and 13 ounces of wet food each day. Because nutritional value varies depending on which food you buy, always check the label to double check your portion sizes.
Your cat’s activity level will also affect their caloric requirements. Indoor cats won’t need to be fed quite as much as outdoor cats, and older animals also have lower calorie needs. If in doubt, ask your vet about your cat’s ideal weight and caloric needs.
- Meal times
The American Bobtail prefers to eat little and often, like many cats. Because it’s not always possible to be at home to serve your cat small, regular meals, one solution is to leave a few small bowls of food around the house for your cat to graze on throughout the day.
If you take this approach, it’s best to put out half the day’s food in the morning, and the rest in the evening. This will help with portion control, and ensure you’re less likely to overfeed your cat.
- Treats and snacks
It might be tempting to give your Bobtail cat treats as a means of showing affection, but this will do them more harm than good in the long run. When cats put on excess weight, they increase their risk of developing health conditions ranging from heart disease to fatty liver.
Helping a cat lose weight is difficult, so it’s much better to help them maintain a healthy weight with a well-balanced, calorie-controlled diet.
This isn’t to say you should never feed your cat treats. Occasional low-fat treats like a spoonful of tuna or a piece of cooked egg.
Along with proper feeding and keeping an eye out for health conditions, there are a few other things you should do to keep your Bobtail happy and healthy.
One of these practises is grooming, which we’ll discuss in more detail below. The other is helping your cat to exercise.
Bobtails are generally an energetic breed, and it’s important to let them burn off this energy to maintain healthy muscles and an appropriate weight.
Because of the Bobtail’s many dog-like traits, it’s a lot easier to exercise than your average cat. For one thing, Bobtails love to go on walks. It’s a good idea to train your cat to walk on a leash as early in their life as possible to help them get comfortable with the experience so they can really enjoy it.
To do this, introduce them to the leash slowly, only take them on brief excursions at first, and ensure not to tug too hard on the leash. Using a harness rather than a traditional collar can be a good way to avoid putting undue pressure on your cat’s neck if you need to hold them back from a hazard.
You can also help your Bobtail exercise with games such as fetch, chasing a ball, or ‘hunting’ a toy on a string. You can leave a few cat toys around the house when you have to go out to help your pet exercise in your absence, and may also wish to invest in cat furniture that they can climb.
You should also give your cat access to a scratching post where they can satisfy their natural instinct to maintain their claws.
Along with physical exercise, Bobtails also require mental stimulation. They’re an intelligent breed, and without this stimulation, could make escape attempts or become destructive in your home.
Fortunately, there is plenty you can do to keep your American Bobtail occupied. Puzzle toys such as food mazes and balls containing treats can be left around your home while you’re out, to give your cat something to do.
When home, giving your Bobtail plenty of affection, and making time to play with them, will also keep them mentally stimulated and facilitate bonding.
Like all cats, the American Bobtail requires some grooming to keep their coat, skin, and nails in tip-top condition.
The American Bobtail has a non-matting coat, that only requires occasional brushing. Try to give your pet a good brushing at least once a week to help the natural shedding process along, and promote a shiny coat.
- Nail trimming
Overly long nails can affect your cat’s ability to walk, so it’s important to keep them clipped. Around once a month, sit your cat down and trim the end off each of their claws, being careful to avoid the quick. This appears a small pink triangle, and is the nail’s blood supply. If cut, the quick will bleed profusely and cause your cat pain.
If you’re worried about cutting the quick, using a nail grinder is a viable alternative, and if feline nail-care just isn’t your forte, you can always ask a groomer to carry out this service for you.
- Ear cleaning
Because your cat’s ears are moist and dark, they make an appealing spot for bacteria to grow. Luckily, you can prevent ear infections with regular cleaning – every couple of weeks or so.
To do this, use a few drops of a cat ear cleaner solution on a cotton ball, and gently dab the inside of your cat’s ear, removing any debris. Be sure to avoid pressing the cotton ball into the ear canal itself, as this can damage the ear.
American Bobtail cats are affectionate and intelligent, forming close bonds with their human family. Because of their boundless energy and love of interactive games, the American Bobtail’s personality is often compared to that of a dog.
Like dogs, you can expect you American Bobtail to welcome guests to your home. Although they enjoy affection and games from just about anyone, the Bobtail forms close and loyal bonds with its human family.
Although these cats, like most domestic breeds, have an independent streak, they love to cuddle up with their owners after a long day for petting and naps.
The American Bobtail is also known for its adaptability, coping well not only with travel, but also a wide variety of different lifestyles – from a busy family home to a laid back group of housemates.