The Japanese Bobtail is a natural breed that comes from Japan. Unlike many present day breeds, the Japanese Bobtail has existed for centuries. The breed has been depicted in works of art that we know to be centuries old. There is no shortage of Japanese paintings, sculpture and other artwork to demonstrate this point.
This cat is much cherished in its native land; many myths and legends as well as historical stories surround the breed. One of the more famous surrounds the maneki-neko, the beckoning cat, which is a stylised rendition of a Bobtail seated with one paw raised. The paws-up pose is well known. It symbolises “Good Luck” and “Welcome”. These ceramic statues based on the traditional Bobtailed cat of Japan are often found in Japanese and Asian shops and homes welcoming visitors.
The original Bobtailed cats were imported into Japan from south-east Asia over 1,000 years ago. It is said that Japanese silk farmers depended on them to keep the farms free from vermin. However real interest in developing the Japanese Bobtail as a pedigree breed did not begin until after World War II when American residents in Japan came across the Bobtailed cats as pets in Japanese households. The first pair of Bobtails credited as part of a formal breeding programme were imported in 1968. They are recorded as a white male named Richard and a tri-coloured female called Madame Butterfly.
In 1971, the Japanese Bobtail was given provisional status in The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) and was accepted for championship competition in 1976. The longhair Japanese Bobtail was accepted by CFA for championship in 1993.
The Japanese Bobtail is a chiselled, angular cat standing high on slim, long legs. Though sturdy and well muscled, they are medium in size. The head structure of the Japanese Bobtail is like that of no other breed. The typical Bobtail face is triangular in shape, has high cheekbones, a long, straight nose and oval eyes set with an Oriental slant giving the breed a distinctive Japanese look. Ears are large, broad, upright and set well apart.
The trademark of this breed is its tail. Resembling a “bunny-tail”, the fur fans out to form a fluffy pom-pom. The tail is made up of curves, angles or kinks or any combination. The tail may be flexible or rigid and should be of a size and shape that harmonises with the rest of the cat. No two Japanese Bobtails’ tails are ever alike. The genetic factor that created the Japanese Bobtail is completely different from the Manx, a naturally tailless cat. It is all down to a recessive gene that breeds true so that only Bobtail to Bobtail matings will produce more Bobtails.
Japanese Bobtails are active, intelligent, talkative cats. Many describe the Japanese Bobtails as “singing” cats because they tend to chirrup melodiously even entering into entire conversations with their humans. Although they like to talk, they are never noisy and do not have loud voices. Their soft voices are capable of nearly a whole scale of tones. They adore human companionship and get on well with other animals and are particularly good with children. These are strong and active cats that appreciate exercise and most enjoy a good game of fetch. Some even like to swim. Owners find the breed playful, entertaining and loving companions.
This breed is recognised in both shorthaired and semi-longhaired varieties. Both coat types are silky and need minimal grooming.
Japanese Bobtails come in most colours. The most commonly seen Japanese Bobtail pattern is the tri-color, or mi-ke (white with red and black) good-luck pattern, but other colours and patterns are also accepted. Any colour except the Siamese pattern or Abyssinian type agouti is permitted. Vividly contrasting colours and bold dramatic markings are preferred on the bi-colours.