rec.pets.cats: Japanese Bobtails Breed-FAQ

Skip to first unread message

Jean Marie Diaz

Apr 17, 2004, 7:26:33 AM4/17/04
Archive-name: cats-faq/breeds/JBT
Posting-frequency: 30 days
Last-modified: 12 Mar 1997

All the cat breed faqs are available as ASCII files either on
or via anon ftp to under pub/usenet/new.answers/cats-faq/bre=
They are also viewable on the World Wide Web at=20

The Japanese Bobtail
* General Description
* Temperament
* Colors
* Physical Appearance
* Show Grooming
* Comparison to the Manx and American Bobtail
* Recognition
* Breed Associations
* Finding a Japanese Bobtail Breeder
* Authors and Copyright
General Description

The Japanese Bobtail is a rare and ancient breed, found in Japan and
across most of southeast Asia. The breed has been depicted in works of
art that we know to be centuries old. The 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 stylized rendition of a Bobtail seated
with one paw raised. Considered to be a good-luck charm, a [INLINE]
maneki-neko statue is often found in store fronts. Look around the
next Japanese restaurant you visit -- you'll likely spot one.
The essential Japanese Bobtail is an active cat, medium to small in
size (6-9 pounds), with a characteristic short pom-pom tail, who
combines the reflexes and intelligence of a breed which has survived
by its wits for centuries, with the elegance and grace so prized by
the culture in which it evolved. Bright colors, especially the calico
(called _mi-ke_, meaning "three-fur", by the Japanese) are most
preferred, but the Japanese Bobtail can come in any color. Japanese
Bobtails come in both shorthaired and semi-longhaired varieties. The
tail is naturally short, and never cut or docked.

The prototypical Japanese Bobtail temperament is strong-willed,
active, and energetic, but very affectionate to its family. They are
stable, not high-strung, and not easily intimidated; this makes them
an excellent cat for children (the kids and the cat will wear out at
about the same time), but can also make them difficult to train to
_not_ do something. (A Bobtail will, say, insist on licking the sink
clean of tuna juice, and will quickly become habituated to and blas=82
about the squirt bottle, or just about any other method of negative
reinforcement one can come up with. If you solve this particular
training problem, _please_ contact the author, who has given up. :-)
In contrast, the Bobtail can easily learn _to_ do something, such as
go for walks on a leash, as long as it is made a fun game for the cat.
The Japanese Bobtail is an active cat. Plan on regular games of
feather, pong, and chase-the-string. The Bobtail absolutely requires
companionship (human, feline, or other), as boredom can lead to
destructive behavior. We once placed a kitten with a couple (one grad
student, one professional) who were sure they would have enough time
to keep the kitten entertained. Three days later, we recieved an
emergency phone call -- We love her, we love her, we love her, she's
driving us crazy, we _have_ to have another. Three days later, new
kitten delivered, there was peace in the family once more.
In our experience, Japanese Bobtails get along well with other cats.
Occasionally, two female Bobtails will both decide that they _must_ be
the dominant cat, and squabbles will erupt until one or the other (or
the owner!) gives in. Others have reported that a group of Bobtails
can tend to be cliqueish among themselves and avoid other
(non-Bobtail) cats. Japanese Bobtails, being fearless, get along with
dogs just fine.

The most popular color for a female Japanese Bobtail is calico, known
to the Japanese as _mi-ke_ (pronounced "mee-kay"). Red and white, and
black and white, are common colors for both sexes. Solid-colored cats
without white markings (black, blue, red, cream, tortoiseshell, solid
white), tabbies (brown tabby, red tabby, blue tabby, cream tabby,
patched tabby or patterned mi-ke) and dilutes (blues, creams,
blue-creams, dilute mi-kes) exist, but are harder to find. Many
Japanese Bobtails with a lot of white are either blue-eyed or odd-eyed
(one blue and one gold eye); this is a flashy and popular color, and
such kittens are generally more expensive.
Smokes and silvers, while allowed colors, have not turned up in the
North American gene pool. As the Bobtail is an Asian breed, some
registries allow the pointed (Siamese) and sepia (Burmese) colors, and
some do not. Since imports from Japan can still be registered, the
gene pool is still open to native cats.
Physical Appearance

The Japanese Bobtail is a chiseled, angular cat, whose smooth coat
should hint at the porcelain statues modelled after them. The tail for
which the breed is named is short (should not extend more than 3
inches from the body of the show specimen), and as individual as
fingerprints. It is composed of one or more curves, notches, kinks, or
angles in the bone itself, but the structure of the tail is
camouflaged by the tail hair, which fluffs out to resemble a pom-pom.
This is especially dramatic in the semi-longhairs, whose tails
resemble a chrysanthemum in full bloom. The bones in the tail are
generally fused (although most Bobtails can wiggle their tails at the
base, and some have tails that are jointed in one or two places), so
it should be handled gently.
The head structure of the Japanese Bobtail is like that of no other
breed. The head is in fact an equilateral triangle (not including the
ears), but the long, high, chiseled cheekbones accentuate the length
of the head. The ears are large, tipped forward slightly as though
listening, and set on the corners of the head so that the outer edges
of the ears are parallel to each other. The eyes are large, and are
set at an Oriental slant which makes the cat unmistakably a Japanese
Bobtail -- even if you don't glance at the tail. The profile should be
a gentle curve, and the chin should be firm and in line with the nose
and upper lip. The muzzle should neither be square nor pointed, and
there should be a definite break between the muzzle and the
cheekbones. Definite whisker pads accentuate the look.
The Japanese Bobtail is classified as a semi-foreign breed, which
means that the body should be long, firmly muscular, with a narrow
chest, but some depth to the flank (not tubular like the Siamese and
Oriental Shorthair). The legs are also long, so that the cat presents
a square appearance (unlike the Maine Coon, which has a long body but
medium legs presenting a rectangular appearance) when viewed from the
side. The legs are refined without appearing delicate, [LINK] and the
hind legs are somewhat longer than the front legs, but deeply
angulated at rest (as shown in the illustration; our model is
GRP/SGCA,IW Janipurr's Odori-Ni-Hane of Ambar, shown at five months of
age), so that the back is carried level. The paws are small, neat, and
The Japanese Bobtail coat should feel soft and silky to the touch, not
hard. The shorthair variety should appear flat, not fluffy, although
the hairs are actually medium in length. Keep the porcelain statue
appearance in mind. The semi-longhairs should have belly shag and
definite britches on the hind legs, and something of a ruff as well,
at least in the winter. While the semi-longhairs are subject to
seasonal shedding, the tail should leave no doubt as to whether you
are looking at a shorthair or a longhair, in any season. Both types of
coat are actually quite water-resistant, such that the most difficult
part of show grooming a Japanese Bobtail is getting them wet during
their bath!
Comparison: Japanese Bobtail, Manx and American Bobtail

Like the Japanese Bobtail, the Manx came about as the result of a
natural mutation occurring in a gene pool limited by the borders of an
island. That is where the similarity begins -- and ends. The Manx is a
heavy-bodied and muscular cat, with no tail at all (in the show
specimen). The Japanese Bobtail is a tall, elegant, refined cat in
appearance, with just a "puff" or a "pom" of a tail.
The genetics differ as well. The Manx gene is a dominant, which is
lethal in the homozygous form. Since all living Manx are thus
heterozygous, any Manx litter can produce tailless (rumpy),
partly-tailed (stumpy), or fully-tailed kittens. The Manx gene is also
linked to genetic problems such as spinal bifida, and hip, pelvic, and
anal abnormalities. In contrast, the Japanese Bobtail gene is
recessive -- two Japanese Bobtails, bred together, will always produce
kittens which are more or less bobtailed. The Japanese Bobtail gene is
also not linked to any other form of spinal or bone abnormality.
Less is known about the American Bobtail, as the breed is still in
development, but it is believed to be a variant of the Manx gene, and
no relation to the Japanese Bobtail. It is being developed as a large,
shaggy, semi-longhaired breed with a tail which is about half the
length of a normal tail.

The Japanese Bobtail breed is recognized by the following registries:
* American Association of Cat Enthusiasts (AACE)
* American Cat Association (ACA)
* American Cat Fanciers Association (ACFA)
* Canadian Cat Association (CCA)
* Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) (See also CFA's breed profile for
the JBT.)
* Cat Fanciers' Federation (CFF)
* Federation Internationale Feline (FIFe) (only recognizes the
shorthair variant)
* The International Cat Association (TICA)
Breed Associations

There are two unaffiliated JBT breed clubs, as well as any number of
clubs affiliated with the various registries. Both clubs welcome
"fancier" (non-breeding) members. They put out quite nice newsletters
with information on cat care, stories and historical lore about the
Japanese Bobtail, pictures of new grands, and listings of new litters.
* Breeders of Bobtails Society (BOBS)
To join BOBS, send fanciers dues of $12US to: BOBS, c/o Lynn
Berge, 1069 Gridley Street, Bay Shore NY 28621. Family memberships
are also available. No overseas dues are listed. Voting members
must be breeders and/or exhibitors of Japanese Bobtails, and must
be voted in by the club.
* Japanese Bobtail Breeders' Society (JBBS)
To join JBBS, send fanciers dues of $15US ($20US if overseas) to:
JBBS, c/o Allen Scruggs, 2416 Union Cross Road, Winston-Salem NC
27107. Voting members must own/show/breed Japanese Bobtails, and
their dues are $5US more in either category (North
Finding a Japanese Bobtail Breeder

There are a relatively small number of Japanese Bobtail breeders in
the world, and most produce very few kittens each year. You probably
will have to get on a waiting list, especially if you want a mi-ke, or
an odd- or blue-eyed kitten. If a breeder is not able to provide a
kitten within a reasonable time, he or she may refer you to another
Additional breeder listings can be found in "Cat Fancy" and "Cats
Magazine" in the US and Canada, and in "Cat World" in the UK.
For a list of electronically-available Japanese Bobtail breeders,
please visit the Breeders Referral List at
Authors and Copyright

This FAQ was written by Jean Marie Diaz (Ambar), aided and abetted by
Jennifer Reding (Janipurr), who together are Gaijin Japanese Bobtails.
We would also like to acknowledge and thank those off-line breeders
who have taken the time to share their knowledge, and in some cases,
their cats, with us: Linda Donaldson (Kiddlyn), Dee Hinkle (Choneko),
Barbara Romanos (Nekolady), Belle Nau (Furrfayar), and Marianne
Hamilton (Kurisumasu). Any errors in the above text are ours, not

Copyright 1997 by Jean Marie Diaz. All rights reserved.
Japanese Bobtail FAQ
Jean Marie Diaz,
Last modified: Tue Jan 28 16:53:45 PST 1997

Reply all
Reply to author
0 new messages