Longhaired American Bobtail – photo copyright Helmi Flick
Tailless cats have gained in popularity but they do not occupy the top eschalots of the cat fancy. When once there was the Japanese Bobtail there is now the Kurilian Bobtail as well (is this breed linked to the Japanese Bobtail?). The American Bobtail was the first of the American bobtailed cats. The genes that produce the shortened tails in the Manx and Japanese Bobtail may also produce the short tail of this breed (see more below).
In contrast to the Manx, where only no tail or a lump or dimple is allowed at show quality, the American Bobtail must have a tail that is short and which “stops just above the level of the hocks”1. (Hock: the joint between the tarsal bones and tibia of a digitigrade – cat skeleton)
All colours and patterns including sepia, pointed and mink are allowed. This cat breed is only a slightly above the average weight despite the heavy-set body conformation. Maine Coons for example are quite a lot larger.
On an activity scale of 1 – 10 the American Bobtail rates, on average, about 7.5, hence the level of inquisitiveness stated in the photo above. They are supposedly very friendly and child tolerant. But children should be taught how to handle a domestic cat.
Separately, it may interest people to know that in 1868 Charles Darwin wrote in The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication that in the Malayan Archipelago which includes Thailand and Myanmar today, “all cats have truncated tails about half the proper length, often with a sort of knot at the end.”
Through a random genetic mutation, tailless cats have occurred periodically all over the planet. Although some of these are bobtailed cats. Bobtailed cats are rare in Europe except for the Manx breed which can be completely tailless.
According to Sarah Hartwell, the bobtailed genetic mutations are not related to the Manx mutation. They have occurred independently in various places and this mutation is widespread in Asia and parts of Russia.
She also states that research tells us that the “tailless gene”, symbolised by the letter T, has four alleles. This means that there are four different versions of the same gene. The American bobtail is based on mutations of the same gene she writes. Although the bobtailed mutation in American bobtail is believed to be unrelated to the Manx mutation. There appear, however, to be some shared alleles.
The American Bobtail Longhair should have a rugged appearance. They cat associations want this cat to be quite large with a semi-longhaired coat in all colours and types. The tail under the breed standard should be short, half-length or less than that of a normal cat. The coat should be slightly course and natural looking as if having evolved during an outdoor, all-weather lifestyle.
Both the head and the muzzle should be “broad”. This, I presume, is in line with this rugged, strong appearance. And also, in line with that objective, the chin should be “very strong and full”. This breed is meant to be slow maturing and may not “fill out until two or more years of age” (breed standard).
1. Encyclopedia Of The Cat by Dr Bruce Fogle. Other source: Sarah Hartwell.