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About This Breed


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Full of energy, always playful, loving, endearing, and happy best describe the Japanese Bobtail’s personality. They are very people-oriented and want to be the center of family life. The will watch TV with you, help you read the newspaper or a book, and they love to help you send emails on the computer! When your front doorbell rings, they will go with you to greet your guests. If you want a cat that will interact with you and your family, then the Japanese Bobtail is the breed for you! They like to carry things in their mouths, and most enjoy a good game of fetch or soccer. Masters of the pounce, these cats love to play tag with their cat friends. They are excellent travelers and enjoy cat shows and hotel rooms. They adjust to dogs and other animals and are especially good with children. They are naturals at Feline Agility. They love to jump hurdles and leap through hoops and are speedy and proficient at this sport. They have been known to run the course in less than 10 seconds!

The tail is unique not only to the breed, but to each individual cat. Like out finger prints, no two tails are ever alike. The tail must be clearly visible and is composed of one or more curves, angles, or kinks, or any combination. The furthest extension of the tailbone from the body should be no longer than three inches. The direction in which the tail is carried is not important. The tail may be flexible or rigid and should be of a size or shape to harmonize with the rest of the cat. The genetic factor which created the Japanese Bobtail is due to dominant genes and breeds true.

The other unique feature that distinguishes this breed from other breeds is that the back legs are slightly longer than the front legs, giving the back legs a very muscular appearance. The head of the Japanese Bobtail is triangular, and their ears are upright and at right angles to the head. Their eyes appear oval rather than round, giving an oriental cast to the face. They are a medium-sized cat, with males being slightly larger than the females.

Japanese Bobtails come in many colors: solid colors, mi-ke (calico), vans, and bi-colors. They can have a tabby pattern which is either spotted, mackerel, or classic. They also come in two different coat lengths – longhair and shorthair - and are known for their soft and silky coats. The United States has more van colored and bi-colored cats registered than solid colored cats. Probably one of the most recognizable colors is the mi-ke (calico).

The Japanese Bobtail is one of the oldest naturally occurring breeds of cat and is native to the islands of Japan. From written records it seems certain that the domestic cat first arrived in Japan from China or Korea at least one thousand years ago. It is believed that the original domestic cats came with the Buddhist monks in 600-700 A.D. and were brought to keep the rats out of the rice paper scrolls in the temples. In the 1600s, the silk trade found itself in jeopardy due to rats, and the Japanese Bobtail was pressed into service and thus became the street cat that it is today in Japan. All CFA registered cats can be traced back to the original and current imported cats. The Japanese Bobtail has certainly existed in Japan for many centuries; it is featured in many ancient prints and paintings. Elizabeth Freret imported the first Japanese Bobtails to the United States in 1968. The Shorthair Japanese Bobtail was accepted for championship status in 1976, followed by the Longhair Japanese Bobtail in 1993.

Japanese Bobtails are very strong and healthy cats. They usually have litters of three to four kittens that are large for newborns. Compared to other breeds, the kittens are active earlier, walk earlier, and start getting into trouble earlier! This breed has a low kitten mortality rate and a high disease resistance rate. Kittens are never born tailless, nor are they born with full tails. They are active, intelligent, talkative cats. Their soft voices are capable of nearly a whole scale of tones; some people say they sing. Since they adore their human’s companionship, they almost always speak when spoken to.

Choosing a new kitten is an important decision for the entire family. It will be a commitment for the life of the cat. Usually breeders make kittens available between the ages of 3 and 4 months. Japanese Bobtail babies are continually learning life experiences from their parents and their people, which helps to produce well-balanced, loving kittens. After 12 weeks, kittens have had their basic inoculations and have developed the physical and social stability needed for a new environment. Keeping such a rare treasure indoors, neutering/ spaying, and providing acceptable toys and scratching posts all help to keep your new kitten happy and healthy. The care and grooming of the Japanese Bobtail is very easy. Since the cat has no undercoat, combing once a week will remove any dead hairs; because of this feature, neither long nor short coat lengths will mat.

The Japanese Bobtail is a delightful animal and will bring much pleasure and happiness to your home and family. For more information, please send inquiries to CFA at cfa@cfa.org.