The Pixiebob cat
The founder of the Pixiebob breed, Carol Ann Brewer, claimed, or at least implied, that the foundation of her breeding program was a cat who was half bobcat/half domestic cat. And just looking at the Pixiebob, with his untamed ruff and rangy physique, you just might believe it.
But you wouldn’t want anything that was half-bobcat living in your house. Believe me.
Luckily, for all her wild looks, the Pixiebob cat is so much nicer than the crazy story about her heritage would imply. The Pixiebob is just a wonderful and fun cat, and gorgeous to look at, too.
Enjoy him just the way he really is.
The history of the Pixiebob cat
The history of the Pixiebob is a short one, going back to 1985.
That year, Brewer purchased a spotted male cat with extra toes and a short tail, and liked the look of him so much, that when she had an opportunity to adopt a similar-looking cat, she did. She bred this second cat, Keba, with a neighbor’s cat and kept one of the kittens.
Pixie, as she called the kitten, had faint spotting on a reddish-fawn coat. She’s obviously the namesake of the breed.
Brewer began the hunt for other cats with short tails and traits that reminded her of the Coastal Red Bobcat, native to the Pacific Northwest, where she lived. She started a breeding program with them and wrote her own breed standard.
Soon after, she began lobbying cat-breed registries to accept the Pixiebob as a new cat breed. The International Cat Association (TICA) recognized the Pixiebob for exhibition status in 1993.
However, other cat-breed registries, including Cat Fancier’s Association (CFA) in the U.S., Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFe) in France, and the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) in the U.K. have yet to recognize the Pixiebob, presumably, due to questions about its ancestry.
Do bobcat/domestic hybrids actually exist?
Given the chance, a bobcat may mate with domestic cats. But that doesn’t mean that a hybrid bobcat/domestic cat has ever existed. In fact, all the evidence suggests that bobcats and housecats are not able to interbreed.
Stories about bobcat/domestic cat hybrids abound
Stories about bobcat/housecat crosses go way back, but they don’t hold up to modern-day scrutiny and our understanding of cat genetics.
For example, an article in CATS Magazine in 1960 detailed a story about a witnessed mating between a domestic cat and a young bobcat, which supposedly produced a litter of kittens. A classic tabby with a bobtail, named Stubby, was among them. Stubby went on to father five bobtailed kittens with a Persian. All of the kittens were also classic tabby cats.
What is wrong with this story? For one, a bobcat hybrid, which Stubby supposedly was, would be infertile if it were to exist at all. Thus, if he was truly half-bobcat, he would not have been able to father those tabby kittens.
And two, the classic tabby pattern is recessive. That means both parents would have had to carry the classic tabby gene. Since bobcats do not carry this gene, both of Stubby’s parents would have had to have been domestic cats.
Read all about tabby cats in this post.
There are modern-day claims of bobcat/domestic cat hybrids, too
Even today, there are people who keep bobcats as pets (which is not allowed in most states), by claiming they are hybrid (which is allowed in some states) out of ignorance, or to escape legal trouble.
In 2018, for example, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) seized what it believed to be an illegally owned bobcat, that the owner had claimed was a hybrid. Since a DNA test for the identification of bobcat genes was not commercially available at the time, and too expensive to develop for this case, the CPW came up with a clever way to test the cat.
They looked for, but did not find, the gene sequence for feline leukemia virus (FeLV), which lives in the tissues of all domestic cats. The supposed “hybrid” could not be anything but a purebred, wild bobcat.
There’s nothing wild about the Pixiebob
Now that DNA testing has advanced, the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at UC Davis has since settled the question once and for all: there is no bobcat ancestry in the Pixiebob.
What does a Pixiebob look like?
You guessed it: the Pixiebob looks like a small – a very small – bobcat.
A Pixiebob has a thick, double coat with a woolly texture. There are both longhaired and shorthaired versions. The longhairs have fur that grows up to two inches in length, and feels a little softer and silkier than the fur of the shorthairs.
The ideal Pixiebob is a brown, spotted tabby, with a coat color that ranges from yellowish-brown to reddish-brown. The spots are small, on a background of heavy ticking.
A Pixiebob’s body is muscular, with long legs. The hind legs are slightly longer than the front legs, giving the cat the undulating gait of a wild cat. The legs finish in big paws, with thick toes. Many Pixiebobs have polydactyly – extra toes – although the breed standard allows no more than seven on any one foot.
Read about cats with extra toes in this post on polydactyly.
A Pixiebob’s face is dramatic: a substantial brow above heavily hooded eyes, that are outlined in black with white fur to set them off.  The eyes are brown or green.
A Pixiebob’s chin is thick, with white fur (typically with black skin underneath), that is offset by facial hair that grows down from the ears like muttonchop sideburns. The ears themselves have furry lynx tips.
This is a larger cat: males weigh 12 to 17 pounds, and females weigh eight to 12.
What about a Pixiebob’s bobtail?
One of the most notable things about a Pixiebob is its bobtail, which is naturally occurring.
The breed standard says that the minimal tail length is two inches, but that the stub can be as long as the cat’s hock (the bend-y point at the back of the hind leg). Individual cats may have longer or shorter tails than that, however.
A Pixiebob’s tail might feel kinked but it should be flexible and move naturally.
A Pixiebob is not the only cat breed with a short tail. There is the Manx, Kuril Islands Bobtail, the Japanese Bobtail, American Bobtail, and Lombok cats, among others.
Is there anything controversial about the Pixiebob’s tail?
Deliberate breeding of short-tailed or tailless cats can be controversial, because the tail is actually part of the spine. A shortened spine may cause problems for a cat.
Manx cats, for example, suffer from Manx Syndrome, also called Manxness. Manxness is actually a form of spina bifida, in which the tailless gene shortens the spine too much, resulting in bowel, bladder, and digestion problems. Some Manx cats are partially paralyzed in the hind legs, and many have long-term problems with severe, painful arthritis.
The good news for Pixiebob guardians is that Pixiebobs don’t seem to suffer from the same genetic problems that plague the Manx breed.
A 2014 study of several short-tailed cat breeds suggests that the mutation in the gene that causes the Manx cat to have a short tail appears to be different from the mutation that causes the Pixiebob to have a short tail.
The authors of this study noted similarities between the abnormalities in the Pixiebob’s vertebra and that of the Japanese Bobtail, and concluded that there might be Japanese Bobtail genes in the Pixiebob pool. It’s also possible that these two breeds just coincidentally have the same variation in their DNA.
What is the personality of the Pixiebob?
You’re going to love this cat. Often called, “dogs in disguise,” the Pixiebob is social and positively devoted to her family. She bonds with the children and other pets in her home, too.
The Pixiebob is a calm cat, even laid back, but still inquisitive and interested in the goings-on in the household.
The Pixiebob likes to play fetch and quickly takes to leash-and-harness training. Are we still sure this is a cat?
Is a Pixiebob a healthy cat?
Pixiebobs are genetically diverse, due in large part to Carol Ann Brewer who built the breed using cats of differing backgrounds who just happened to look the part.
There’s also evidence that early breeders took it upon themselves to introduce other breeds into the gene pool, including, specifically, Bengal cats. And during an early “open registry” period, shortly after the breed was recognized by TICA, some American Bobtails, Japanese Bobtails, Manx, Jungle cats, and even Maine Coons may have been falsely registered as Pixiebobs.
The good news is that Pixiebobs do not have the genetic problems of cat breeds that have been overbred.
Pixiebobs would still be prone to the same diseases and disorders that would affect any housecat, however.
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Dawn LaFontaine is a lifelong animal lover who always seems to have a little pet hair in her keyboard. Her blog, Kitty Contemplations, helps cat guardians better understand and care for the special beings they share their lives and homes with. Her cat-products business, Cat in the Box, sells beautiful, well-made, and award-winning products that she designed to meet the biological needs of cats.
 “Pixiebob Breed.” Welcome to TICA - The International Cat Association, TICA Cats, TICA Pedigreed Cats, Pedigreed Cats, Pedigreed Cats Registry, Household Pet Cat Registry, Domestic Cat Registry, Savannah Cat, Bengal Cat, Persian Cat, Maine Coon Cat, https://www.tica.org/breeds/browse-all-breeds?view=article&id=866%3Apixiebob-breed&catid=79.
 “Pixiebob Breed.” Welcome to TICA.
 Hartwell, Sarah. “DOMESTIC HYBRIDS WITH BOBCAT AND LYNX.” Domestic x Bobcat/Lynx Hybrids, http://messybeast.com/small-hybrids/rufus-lynx-hybrids.htm.
 Chiu, E S, et al. “A Novel Test for Determination of Wild Felid-Domestic Cat Hybridization.” Forensic Science International. Genetics, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Jan. 2020, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7062607/.
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 “Pixie Bob Cat.” Scottish Dancers Cattery, http://scottishdancerscattery.weebly.com/pixie-bob-cat.html.
 “Pixie Bob Cat.” Scottish Dancers Cattery.
 “Pixiebob Breed.” Welcome to TICA.
Pollard RE, Koehne AL, Peterson CB, Lyons LA. Japanese Bobtail: vertebral morphology and genetic characterization of an established cat breed. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. 2015;17(8):719-726. doi:10.1177/1098612X14558147. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1098612X14558147
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 Hartwell, Sarah. “DOMESTIC HYBRIDS WITH BOBCAT AND LYNX.”