What is a bobtail cat?

American Bobtail
Photo copyright Helmi Flick
A bobtail cat is a cat with a short tail. "Bob" refers to "bobbed" meaning shortened. The origin of the word "bob" in relation to tail length is interesting. It is a shortened version of the old Middle English word "bobbe" which meant a knob or cluster (1). When a tail is sufficiently shortened as in the Japanese Bobtail it looks like a cluster or knob of fur. Another American short tailed purebred, domestic cat is the Pixie-bob.

"Bobtail cat" usually refers to the American Bobtail, a purebred short tailed cat. The American bobcat is a species of lynx wild cat found in the USA. It too has a short tail. There is no connection between these two cats. The shortened tail is due to a natural genetic mutation. Sometimes breeders dock tails (shorten them surgically). You will see feral moggie cats with bobtails.

(1) Word Origins by Dhirendra Verma

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