Bobtailed cats, the result of a natural genetic mutation that causes a shortened tail, have appeared in various places over the centuries, from Japan to the Isle of Man. Sometimes they get noticed by the right people, and voila! A new breed is born. Such was the case with the American Bobtail, which descends from a short-tailed kitten acquired by John and Brenda Sanders during a vacation to Arizona. They named him Yodi, and he became the father of the breed in the swinging ‘60s when he had his way with the Sanders’ female, Mishi, once they arrived back home in Iowa.
Yodi and Mishi’s kittens had short tails, too, a clue that the trait was caused by a dominant gene. Family friend Mindy Shoultz, who’d had experience breeding Persians, partnered with Charlotte Bentley to develop the unusual cats into a breed. They bred the kittens to other cats with naturally short tails that were found in various places throughout the United States and Canada. They selectively bred the cats to be big and sturdy with a wild look but a sweet temper. All of the cats used to develop the breed were non-pedigreed domestic shorthairs and longhairs. Now, after 50 years, such outcrossing is no longer necessary because now the cats have pedigrees longer than their tails.
The International Cat Association accepted the American Bobtail into its new breed category in 1989 and gave it full recognition in 2002. The American Bobtail is also recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association and the American Cat Fanciers Association.