Japanese Bobtails are medium in size, well-muscled, slender and “straight” cats. They have a long, lean body atop long, slender legs with oval paws. The hind legs are longer than the forelegs (which means Japanese Bobtails will be great at jumping). Males weigh 7 to 10 pounds, females weigh 5 to 7 pounds.
Japanese Bobtail heads form an almost perfect equilateral triangle. They have high cheekbones, broad muzzles, full chins and large, upright expressive ears. Eyes are large, oval, wide and alert.
Each Japanese Bobtail has a unique tail. The length, shape and flexibility vary from cat to cat. The extension of the tail bone is usually not more than three inches and usually has a curve, angle or kink (or two of any combination). The tail can be rigid or flexible. The tail can also be carried up- or downwards. But all Japanese Bobtails have a bobbed tail. (If you see a Japanese Bobtail that is tailless, it is not a real Japanese Bobtail.) The length of their tail is caused by a recessive gene, meaning that cats must inherit the gene from both sets of parents. When Japanese Bobtails are bred together, all resulting offspring have short tails.
Japanese Bobtails come in either a long- or short-coated variety. Longhairs have a soft, silky coat of medium-long to long hair with a noticeable ruff. The coat is short around the shoulders and grows longer down the body towards the rump, tail and britches. Tails are fluffy and the cat also sports ear and toe tufts. Shorthaired Japanese Bobtails have the same silky coat in a medium length and has no ruff.
The exact origins of the Japanese Bobtail has been lost, but the breed is one of the oldest-existing breeds. Japanese Bobtails are believed to have been transported into Japan from Korea or China at the beginning of the 6th century. Bobtailed cats are found throughout much of Eastern Asia, suggesting that the mutation occurred long ago. The Japanese consider the cats to bestow good luck. Tricolored Bobtails of red, black and white markings are especially lucky felines. In Japan, these cats are referred to as “mi-ke” (pronounced mee-kay) and means “three fur.”
Japanese Bobtails came to North America in 1967 when a breeder saw a cat at a Maryland pet show. She began a year-long process to import the cats so she could begin a breeding program. Three arrived via another American breeder living in Japan who brought more cats home with her. They teamed up to breed and promote them. Meanwhile, a judge imported 8 Japanese Bobtails. After the breed was recognized by all the cat fancy associations as late as 1979, more Japanese Bobtails were imported to improve the bloodlines. It was another decade before the longhaired variety were regarded with love by breeders. (Before then, all longhaired Japanese Bobtails were given away as pets.)
These revered feline beauties are single-minded in all pursuits — from hunting a live mouse or stalking a toy. They do notice your human presence and are quite adoring. They will spend many hours by your side, all the while conversing with you and sticking their sweet little noses into everything. (Be prepared.) Ever helpful, they also love to stick a paw into everything — even when it doesn’t belong. None of this translates into clinginess though, they develop deep bonds but won’t be a complete pest.
Highly intelligent and entertaining, Japanese Bobtails are active with a capital “act.” If you need the medicine of laughter, this is your cat. Japanese Bobtails have a few requests: they like interactive toys, they love when you join in on the fun and require a tall cat tree so they can climb to their heart’s content (and they will whether you provide one or not).
Japanese Bobtails are talkative, chirping frequently and it almost sounds like they sing! Their ears, eyes, tail flicks and chirps help them get their point across every time. You’ll never have any problems distinguishing between what their meows mean, have no fear. Opinionated and stubborn, Japanese Bobtails are not easy to train. They love to walk on a leash as long as they get to lead. Their superior intelligence leads them into mischievousness. Closed doors are not a deterrent, simply an obstacle to be overcome — and they will. Beware if you let more than one Bobtail into your home. They will gather together and conspire. You know that book about how your cat is plotting to kill you? It may have been inspired by a group of Japanese Bobtails.