Bobtail domestic cats seem to be gaining popularity. Many people often ask where that bobtail came from. Is it a natural mutation? Is it something from a bobcat? Is it all the same gene?
Mom has spent a lot of time talking with breeders of Manx, American Bobtail, Pixie-Bob, and Bengal cats specifically about these questions. Mom didn't keep a list of everyone she talked with, so she can't give a reference list for her info on this page. This is ment to give a quick overview of the domestic bobtail trait. As Mom gets more information, she will add to this page.
The four possibilities for your bobtail:
2) American Bobtail
3) Japanese Bobtail
What No Bobcat?
Many people assume that a domestic cat which has a bobtail must be a bobcat cross. This is a very very popular MYTH.
Crossing domestic and wild felines is a tricky business. First they need to recognize the other as a mate. Then, they need to be able to mate. Cat mating is not a romantic business. Often the wild partner will hurt or even kill its domestic mate. IF they do manage to mate, you move on to the next set of complications. The different species of cats havae different gestation periods. Often kittens born of wild/domestic crosses are born too early and do not survive. When you do get a viable cross, the resulting kittens may be sterile. If you breed the first generation mixes (F1) their kittens have a higher chance of being sterile. Generally by the third generation you cannot get a fertile offspring.
A Bobcat cross is, therefore, highly unlikely. And if you have this "bobcat cross" and it is producing kittens that then have kittens, the chances of it having actual bobcat genes are practically null. Some people have crossed bobcats with domestic cats successfully a limited number of times. In order to be reconized as a cross, the mating itself must be witnessed. That is the only way to be certain the bobcat actually mated with the domestic cat.
The Bengal is the ONLY breed that has succesfully incorporated wild genes into its gene pool. The Bengal is a cross from domestic cats and Asian Leopard Cats (a small southeast asian wild cat). Bengals remain fertile even after the third generation, making this a viable breed. The importance of bringing in Asian Leopard Cat genes is that this wildcat appears to have a natural immunity to Feline Leukemia. It is hoped that not only will the Bengal be an amazingly gorgeous cat, but will also have this resistance. This has not been proven, it is still speculation.
Enough of Myths, back to our Domestic Bobtails!
The Manx is a mutation which occurred on the Isle of Man. It results in either no tail (rumpie) a partial tail (stumpie) or a full tail. The Manx must be very carefully bred, because a cat who is homozygous for the manx trait will, most likely, be stillborn. There are a host of spinal problems associated with the shortened spine, so Manx breeders need to pay close attention to their lines. A responsible Manx breeder will rarely see these problems.
2) American Bobtail:
The American Bobtail is a new breed, but comes from a common, dominant, gene in the feral cat population. The founding cats of this breed were a feral bobtail and a siamese mix. American Bobtails can have many tail lengths, with a distinctive fold or curl at the end of the tail. They are also known for chirping rather than meowing. This is the most common bobtail gene in our current cat population. Chances are if you have a bobtail cat and don't know its origin, it at least got it's tail from here. Breeding very short tailed cats to very short tailed cats often results in problems. Like any breed, the breeder needs to keep careful track of their lines! Most breeders seem to agree that crossing extremes is a recipe for stillborn or sick kittens. 3) The Japanse Bobtail:. This breed is not very common in the USA. Unfortunatley Mom has not had the opportunity to speak with a Japanese Bobtail breeder yet, so she does not know much about this breed. All she knows is that these cats also have a bobtail which curls at the end.
4) The Pixie-Bob
The Pixie-Bob is a fairly new breed. They are large, reddish brown, striped cats with a large heads and bob tails. At first it was thought that some Bobcat might be involved, but genetic studies have shown this breed to be 100% domestic. It is uncertain if the gene which causes this breed's bobtail is the same as one of the other bobtail breeds or if it something different. Because the breed is new, it is fairly rare. Mom has seen several at TICA cat shows. This breed is also notable as being one that accepts polydactylism.
So What is MY Bobtail???
Without knowing something about the parents of your cat, knowing exactly which bobtail gene your cat has will be very difficult. If the tail has a kink in it, it is NOT a manx. If there is no tail at all, it probably IS a manx. You need to look at other traits in your cat to trace its possible origins.
For example, my dad had siamese points, long fur, as well as a bobtail. He had a funny way of talking, he made squeaking noises and chirps instead of meowing. This is consistant with the American Bobtail. But can Mom be absolutely sure? No, she can't. My feline mom was a shorthair grey tabby with a very short bobtail. She never made any noise so Mom doesn't know what she sounded like. If you have no information at all on your cat's parents, the identification is even harder. You CAN be sure, however that it is not from a bobcat!