Domestic cat that looks like a bobcat?

There are two purebred domestic cats that look like a bobcat: American Bobtail and Pixie-bob. In addition to these two purebred cats which are designed through selective breeding to have a domesticated but slightly similar appearance to the American bobcat, you might see a random bred cat with a tabby coat and a very short tail who looks a bit like the American bobcat. Also, the tailless Manx will look similar if they have a tabby coat. Although the domestic cat is always going to be considerably smaller than the bobcat (see size comparison below)

Bobcat photograph by PD Ryan on Flickr
Bobcat photograph by PD Ryan on Flickr
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Here is a size comparison. I have chosen a tabby Manx cat for the comparison.

Bobcat compared to the domestic cat
Bobcat compared to the domestic cat. The montage is by MikeB. The bobcat image is in the public domain. The Manx cat image is by Warren Photographic and published here with his permission.

Perhaps the two defining appearance characteristics of the American bobcat are its short tail and tabby coat. Both of these characteristics are present on the American bobtail and Pixie-bob. Although, you’ll see bobcats in a range of color morphs including black (melanistic) and all-white (albino). Both of these are rare.

Dr Desmond Morris, interestingly, in his book Cat World states that “it should not be confused with the wild species, the American bobcat”.

American Bobtail Cat

There are three stories about the origin of this breed of cat. I won’t go into detail but one of the stories claims that the breed is supposed to be the result of crosses between domestic cats and wild bobcats occurring in the late 1970s. Amy Shojai writing in 1992 remarked “Rose Estes has been breeding bobtails for fourteen years…According to Rose, wild bobcats interbreed most often with Siamese because the scent of the Siamese in season closely resembles the smell of the female bobcat”.

American Bobtail Cher
American Bobtail Cher. Photo: copyright Helmi Flick

I think the quote from Amy is more interesting than factual. The American bobtail is essentially a selectively bred creation from the cat fancy. The idea that the bobcat could have mated with a domestic cat is far-fetched. That said, other authors have supported the concept that bobcats have mated with domestic cats.

The American bobtail is a stocky, long-haired cat with an abbreviated tail. It has a double coat. The head is rounded and broad, the ears are wide and the eyes large. The classic American bobtail coat is tabby but breeders wanted to explore alternatives and these cats have coats that are dissimilar to that of the bobcat (see below).

American bobtail cat Leia
American bobtail cat Leia. Photo copyright Helmi Flick.

Pixie-bob Cat

This rarer purebred domestic cat is meant to have a wild look replicating the wild bobcat but it has no wild cat genes. Cats of this breed have a tabby coat and the objective, as mentioned, is that the appearance should be that of the native American bobcat.

Pixie-bob cat
Pixie-bob cat. Photo copyright Helmi Flick.

There was a trend in the middle of the 20th century, in the USA, beginning with the creation of the Bengal cat, for domestic cats with wild cat appearances. Some of these breeds are genuine wild cat hybrids but the Pixie-bob is not one of these cats.

This is a large cat, muscular and heavy boned. It stands higher on the back legs. The ears are lynx-tipped. The tabby pattern can be spots or rosettes and of course the tail should be short.

Below are some pages on the bobcat:

6 thoughts on “Domestic cat that looks like a bobcat?”

  1. I have taken in a wild feral cat in for the winter. He is very large and has splayed paws. I think he is part Bobcat, he weighs over 20 Lbs. And he has way more toes than a normal cat. He was injured and I took care of him over the summer. Nursed him back to health and we have a bromance going on right now. He is wild as hell and has extremely large claws. His coat is double and he is very fast and I caught him eating a large chipmunk head first. He go’s for walks with me and my dog. They get along perfect. It is weird, because I know that he has more in him than cat. We have a trust going and some times the wild comes out in him. I just watch out and give him space. I have raised dogs and cats for over 40 years and this one is different !

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  2. Thanks so much! Thought I might have seen a Bobcat walking down the sidewalk in front of my apartment last night, but thanks to your description and picture I now know it was a Pixie-Bob and I won’t be afraid to take my dog out after dark.

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  3. I would like to see pictures of a hybrid habari with tiger or leopard genes. I read a story in the Chicago Sun-Times and they included a picture.

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