The American Bobtail breed's origins are murky. However, this cat has appeared in different places in the United States even before she was discovered and developed.
The American Bobtail’s distinctive tail was a product of natural genetic mutation. The foundation stock of the breed was thought to be feral domestic cats that have natural bobtails.
The American Bobtail breed’s development started in the 1960s by a couple from Iowa. John and Brenda Sanders found a stray kitten named Yodie in an Arizona motel. It is believed that a child from the nearby reservation left Yodie there.
The Tabby kitten’s ancestry is unknown, but some speculate that he was the result of the cross-breeding of a domestic Tabby cat and a Bobcat. The couple nevertheless took him home. They were charmed by Yodie’s friendly nature and distinctly shortened tail.
Yodie soon became the patriarch of the American Bobtail breed. He mated with a Seal Point Siamese named Mishi. She was the non-pedigreed cat of the Sanders. Not long after, Mishi produced a litter containing a mix of normal-tailed and bobtailed kittens.
This occurrence in the American Bobtail breed suggests that the gene, which made Yodie’s tail uniquely short, was dominant. Moreover, the Siamese cat has no history of bobtailed ancestors.
Mindy Schultz, a friend of the Sanders, noted that there was a potential for a new breed. She has experience in breeding Persian cats. Thus, Mindy partnered with Charlotte, another family friend of the Sanders, to develop a new cat breed.
They slowly began to develop the American Bobtail breed. The kittens were crossed with other cats that possess natural bobtails. Both breeders made sure that the selective breeding produced huge, well-muscled, and wild-looking offspring with gentle temperaments.
The felines used to develop the American Bobtail breed were non-pedigreed cats. They range from short-haired to long-haired cats.
As the American Bobtail breed developed, other long-haired pedigreed felines were involved, such as the Himalayan, Birman, and a Himalayan/Siamese hybrid. Yodie’s female offspring were then bred with a long-haired pedigreed Colourpoint feline. The resulting kittens were then recognised as the first American Bobtail cats.
The American Bobtail standards were first set up by Schultz in the 1970s. She became known as the first American Bobtail breeder.
The American Bobtail’s earlier versions were not healthy as there was much inbreeding. In response, another set of breeders created a new breeding programme in the 1980s.
The new American Bobtail breeders avoided the earlier versions of the breed to keep her gene pool healthy. Moreover, they aimed to create offspring that closely resembled Yodie.
Their American Bobtail kittens should be large Tabbies with a feral appearance. They have rounded brows from forehead to eye ridge. This trait gives them the ‘hunting gaze,’ which further enhances their wild look. They must also sport long coats and, of course, bobbed tails.
The American Bobtail was eventually acknowledged in 1989 by The International Cat Association (TICA). The breed was fully recognised in 2002. The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) followed suit in 2000 and awarded her full championship status in 2006. She is not yet recognised by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF).