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The American Bobtail is a relatively new and uncommon breed of cat which appeared in the late 1960s. It is most notable for its stubby "bobbed" tail about one-third to one-half the length of a normal cat's tail. This is the result of a cat body type genetic mutation affecting the tail development, similar to that of a Manx. The cat is not related to the Japanese Bobtail despite the similar name and physical type - the breeding programs are entirely unrelated and the mutation causing the bobbed tail is different because the mutation causing the American Bobtail's tail is dominant, whereas the Japanese Bobtail tail mutation is recessive.
American Bobtails are a very sturdy breed, with both short- and long-haired coats. Their coat is shaggy rather than dense or fluffy. They can have any color of eyes and fur, with a strong emphasis on the "wild" tabby appearance in show animals.
Bobtails are said to be the result of a crossbreeding between a domestic tabby cat and a bobcat. Yodie, a short-tailed brown tabby male, mated with a seal point Siamese colored (cat) female to create the Bobtail's original bloodline. Most of the early bloodlines have been eliminated. Although this is genetically possible, the bobcat/domestic cat hybrids, particularly the male, would probably become sterile. The unusual tail is actually the result of a random spontaneous genetic mutation within the domestic cat population or is related to the dominant Manx gene.
Tis cat's original appearance genetics were modified in the breed to form a new and improved breed which comes in all colors, categories and divisions. New shorthair versions have appeared where once only longhair versions were fully recognized. These new lines, which invoke a gentler, sweeter cat with the remaining wild look features, may have begun in Florida. It is still permitted to outcross the Bobtail with domestic stock, so long as the currently small gene pool is kept healthy. Manx and Japanese Bobtails are not used in the integrated matrix.
The breed was recognised by the International Cat Association in 1989. The breed is accepted for Championship competition in The Cat Fanciers Association, The International Cat Association and the American Cat Fanciers' Association.
Breeders claim that Bobtails are playful, friendly, energetic and extremely intelligent, but some are born scared, not playful, and not very fast at opening up. American Bobtails have dog-like personalities, often play fetch, and greet their owners at the door. They are very tolerant of being picked up by younger children and handled like a sack of potatoes. They have been known to escape from closed rooms and fastened cages. Bobtails also have a tendency to steal shiny objects and stash them away in a hiding place, requiring owners to know where their cat keeps their hoard when the owner wants to retrieve the items.
Bobtails require two to three years to develop, slower than many domestic cat breeds.
The American Bobtail is an ideally naturally occurring hearty short-tailed cat. Its body is moderately long and substantial, stocky, with a noticeable rectangular stance. Boning is substantial, and the chest is full and broad. The hips are substantial, almost as wide as chest and hind legs longer than fore legs with large round feet which may have toe tufts. The head is a broad wedge without flat planes, size proportionate to body. There is a concave curve from nose to brow, or rise to prominent brow, a broad unpinched muzzle, prominent whisker pads, a gently sloped wide nose and full strong jaws. The ears are medium-sized, wide-based, and equally mounted on top and side of head with rounded tips. The eyes are almost almond shape,with size proportionate to head. The aperture is angled to base of ear, and with medium wide spacing and deep sockets. Eye color varies with coat color. The end of the tail is visible above the back, but not beyond the hock while the animal is in repose. The tail is straight or curved, slightly knotted or may have bumps.