Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Kano(?)  c. 1878

This cat breed has been around for a very long time.  The first domestic cats to arrive in Japan probably got there in 600-700 C.E. They were brought from China or Korea by Buddhist monks to keep rats from eating the rice paper scrolls in the temples.  Later on, in the 1600s, cats got the job of protecting the silk industry from rats.  The Japanese Bobtail shows up in lots of ancient paintings and prints, so I think this means they were not just working cats, but they were also loved as pets.

©Chanan Photography

The thing that makes the Japanese Bobtail different from other cats is its tail.  For a while, people thought maybe Japanese Bobtails were related to Manx cats, but it turns out that this is not the case.  Bobtails are never totally tailless.  Their tails can be curved, angled, kinky, or straight, and every cat's tail is unique.  When fully extended, the tail is about 4" to 5" long.  The hair on the tail grows in all different directions, which makes it look like the cat has a pom-pom or "bunny tail."


There is a dominant gene that causes Japanese Bobtails to have such funny-looking tails.  Kittens are born with the full number of spinal vertebrae and all the nerves that regular cats have.  The only thing that is different is the number of vertebrae in the tail.  Plus the back legs are a little longer than the front legs.

Japanese Bobtail cats are generally very healthy.  They have smaller litters and bigger kittens than other breeds of cats, so few kittens die at birth, and they develop at a faster rate than other kittens.  Every once in a while, a Japanese Bobtail is born with one blue eye and one gold eye.  This is called being "odd-eyed."  The cats with the most white are more likely to be odd-eyed.

©Marianne Clark

One of the most popular colors for Japanese Bobtails is calico.  But lots of color patterns are permitted by the breed standard, including solid color, bi-color, classic tabby, and mackerel tabby.  There are also both longhaired and shorthaired Japanese Bobtails.

Photo:  Alan Robinson

If you want a really out-going, energetic, loving cat, then the Japanese Bobtail might be just the cat for you.  These cats love their humans, and they are happy to watch TV with you or help you read a book or do your email.  When visitors come to the door, your Japanese Bobtail will go with you to greet them.  Bobtails are good with children, and they like playing with other cats and even with dogs.  They enjoy traveling, going to cat shows, and staying in hotel rooms.  Japanese Bobtails are great at Feline Agility, and some can even run the course in less than 10 seconds.

I told Mom that maybe we need one of these nice, friendly cats at our house, but she said we have way too many cats here already.  And after I thought about it for two seconds or so, I realized she was right!

1 comment:

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