Looks of the American Bobtail

The American Bobtail is a beautiful, wild-looking cat. At its "wildest" it really resembles a bobcat with its ear tufts, naturally occurring short tail and athletic appearance. No dainty feet or slim figure - this cat is sturdy all the way.

It is medium to large in size, weighing 7-16 pounds / 3-6 kg (the males around 12-16 pounds / 5.5 - 7 kg, the females 7-11 pounds / 3 - 5 kg).

It takes up to three years for the American Bobtail to reach maturity.


Helmi Flick's photograph of a longhaired American Bobtail Cat.

Thank you, Helmi Flick, for the permission to use your beautiful photo of MagicBob Itsy Bitsy for this article.

The Body

The body is substantial and rectangular. Well-muscled, solid and stocky, with large boning.  The body is moderately long, of medium length - a little longer than it is tall.  The chest is full and broad, the shoulders are wide and the shoulder blades prominent. Hips are a bit higher than the shoulders, and are almost as wide as the chest.

When the cat walks, the gait is powerful and rolling.


The legs are substantially boned and well muscled. Hind legs are longer than forelegs. Feet are large and round, and may have toe tufts. Males can have larger paws than the femals. Extra toes (polydactyl) are not permitted.

The Tail

Helmi Flick's photograph of American Bobtail Cat
Helmi Flick's photograph of American Bobtail cat

Thank you, Helmi Flick, for allowing me to use your wonderful photos of Magic Bob Yukon Red (left) and Magic Bob Itsy Bitsy (right)

The tail is expressive and flexible, and each tail is different. The tail can be curved, kindked, bumped or nearly straight wit a fat pad at the end. Kittens with full length tails can still be used in breeding programs.

The desired length of the tail is 1 inch at the minimum, and at its longest not longer than the hock - only long enough to be seen above the cat's back in standing position. Typically the length of the tail varies between 1 to 4 inches. As a rule of thumb the length is from a third to half the length of a normal cat tail.

Tailless cats ("rumpies") are not accepted in the breed because of the health problems associated with the shortened spine - for example problems in controlling defecation.


The Head

The head is a broad, modified wedge with no flat planes. There is an observable whisker break, with an unpinched muzzle, fleshy whisker pads. The nose is wide and gently sloped, with a concave curve from nose to a prominent brow. Chin and jaw are full and pronounced.  Chin and cheekbones are strong and the jaws are full and strong. The neck is broad and short.

Ears are medium in size, wide at the base and at top / side of the head. The tips of the ears are rounded. Lynx tipping is a desirable feature, as are ear tufts.

Young males can have a bigger head than females do - with a ruff.


The Eyes

The eyes are almost almond in shape, and in proportion to the head. The heavy brows give the cat a "hunting gaze". The eye color varies with the coat color. The American bobtail can also be odd-eyed.

American Bobtail Coat

The coat resists moisture. It has a dense undercoat and a shaggy texture when the harder outer hairs overlay the softer undercoat. It is non-matting, but requires occasional brushing, especially the long haired one. In dilute colors (lynx or silver) the coat may be softer.

Originally the breed was bred for long coat, but the shorter version arose naturally.

Shorthair coat is  medium to short double coat, resilient with undercoat. The coat stands off the body and may have a scruffy look. It is plush like a rabbit's fur.

The medium longhair coat is semi-long and has a shaggy look. It is not extremely dense, and not as common as the shorter coat.  The long/haired cats have a ruff around the neck, long hair on britches, belly and tail.


Any color or pattern is good, but the tabby and tiger patterns dominate. Colors that enhance the natural wild appearance of the cat are preferred. Points don't normally appear.

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Back to Homepage from American Bobtail Looks.

Go to American Bobtail Cat History

What are these lovely bobtails like as pets?

The photographs of MagicBob Yukon Red and MagicBob Itsy Bitsy are copyrighted by the professional cat photographer Helmi Flick. Do not copy without Helmi's permission. You'll find her website here.

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