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 the very short tail who looks a bit like the American bobcat.
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.
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”.
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).
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.
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.