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 American Curl is one of the youngest cat breeds. It was born of a natural genetic mutation that first appeared in Shulamith, a stray black kitten with long, silky hair and, strangely, ears that curled backward. She found her way to the welcoming door of Joe and Grace Ruga in Lakewood, California. The Rugas named her Shulamith after the “black and comely” princess in the Old Testament book the Song of Solomon. Shulamith had a litter of four kittens by an unknown father, and two of them shared her curly ears. A consultation with a geneticist showed that the trait was caused by a dominant gene. Cat fanciers began selectively breeding the cats in 1983, and the new breed, named the American Curl, began to be registered by the Cat Fanciers Association in 1986. They were recognized by The International Cat Association in 1987 and achieved full recognition from CFA in 1993. With almost unheard-of rapidity, the trip from stray to pedigreed breed took only six years. The breed also stands out for being the first single breed with two coat lengths recognized by CFA.
This cat is an American original. It’s not unusual for natural mutations to pop up in cats in different places around the world, but so far the mutation for a wiry coat has appeared only in the United States. It was first seen in 1966, in a litter of kittens born to a domestic shorthair cat in upstate New York. The only kitten to survive from that litter was a red tabby and white male. Because of his unusual coat, the owners showed him to a local cat breeder, Joan O’Shea, who purchased the kinky-coated kitten for $50, named him Council Rock Adam of Hi-Fi and set about trying to reproduce him through crosses to American Shorthairs. The American Wirehair achieved full recognition from the Cat Fanciers Association in 1978. In The International Cat Association, the breed is considered a type of American Shorthair. American Wirehairs are also recognized by the American Cat Fanciers Association, the Canadian Cat Association, and the World Cat Federation. They are outcrossed to American Shorthairs to maintain genetic diversity.