The Breed History
This is reported to be an ancient breed. The bobtail cat was widely distributed around Asia in ancient times. The Emperor of China may have sent the first cats to Japan. First records of this type of domesticated cat in Japan date to 1000 years ago. First representatives of the breed were imported to the USA in 1968. The CFA granted championship status in 1976 for the Shorthair, and in 1993 added the Longhair variety. The bobtail is present in all cats of this breed, instead of showing up as a range of tail lengths as in the Manx cat. The tail is distinctive for this breed, the terminus being less than three inches away from the body, and frequently is kinked or curved. Tail hairs form a "pom-pom" rabbit-like tail and each tail is unique. In Japan, the van "Mi-Ke" (pronounced Mee-Kay) is thought to bring good luck. Maneki-neko (beckoning cat) statues depict a Bobtail cat with one paw raised, and are often placed in the doorways of homes and businesses for good luck. No outcrosses are allowed in CFA. Newest genetic studies surprisingly found that the breed is more closely aligned with the European and North American gene pool.
Weight: 6-9 lb (2.5-4 kg)
Coat: The traditional color is called Mi-ke (three-fur). That color is a tri-color red, black and white cat, but frequently the red areas have tabby markings and these are termed calico. A number of other colors and patterns are accepted but are much less common than Mi-ke; black and white coat is the second most prevalent. The single, short-medium length coat is silky in texture and flat-lying. The longhaired coat is really a semi-long hair, and this variety is also accepted by TICA and CFA, but by AFCA is judged as a separate breed. In the semi-longhair a ruff, britches and toe tufting is desirable. Both types of coat have minimal undercoat.
Eyes: The large eyes are oval and slanted, and their color is appropriate for the coat coloring. Blue and odd-eyes accepted.
Points of Conformation: These are small sized semi-foreign type cats, and there is no conformation difference between the Longhair and Shorthair varieties. They have a triangular head, a long straight nose and a small stop at eye level. Ears are large, tilting forward. Body is long and lithe with good muscling and long fairly fine boned legs. Feet are oval in shape and small sized.
Grooming: The Japanese Bobtail cat has low grooming requirements and low shedding tendency. This is a somewhat water resistant coat. Longhair cats require a bit more grooming, but have low matting tendency. Not recommended to blow dry this coat in Shorthairs.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
Reported breed characteristics include: Quiet cats; meow is musical. Active, highly intelligent, friendly, enjoy close human contact and playing fetch. Very good with children and other pets/groups of cats, travel well, adaptable. Independent minded. Good mousers. Good to leash train. Likes shoulder rides. Some say that these cats are quite similar to Abyssinians in personality.
Normal Breed Variations
Bobtail is an autosomal recessive gene that all Bobtails carry (compare with Manx dominant gene). Manx are not related to American Bobtail cats either in the mutation or by lineage. American Bobtail gene is also thought to be novel and not the same mutation as the Japanese Bobtail trait though further studies are needed. The tail pom of fluffy hair should appear to arise next to body rather than a few inches along a straight tail base. A corkscrew tail is accepted. Tail may be rigid or flexible, but should be moveable at the base. Litter size is reported to average four to five kittens, and birth weights are heavier than the average for other breeds of cats, with low kitten mortality, and precocious kitten development (walk early). Considered very healthy and hardy.
Blood Type B: A study of the prevalence of blood type B in a number of breeds found Japanese Bobtail cats had a prevalence of 5-25% B blood type. A 16% prevalence of blood type B also reported elsewhere.
None reported in the literature
Neonatal Isoerythrolysis (NI): Moderate prevalence of B blood type is present in the breed so NI may be found in some litters. Blood typing before breeding is recommended.
Transfusion Reactions: Prevalence of B blood type also leads to an increased risk of transfusion reactions. Blood typing for donor and recipient recommended.
Blood type determination: before breeding or transfusions
- Breed name synonyms: JBT, Bobtail, Mi-ke, Neko, Maneki Neko, Jibit
- Registries: FIFe (SH only), TICA (LH, SH variety separate in Japanese bobtail breed group), CFA (LH and SH variety in SH division), ACFA (LH and SH separate breeds), CCA, CFF, NZCF, WCF, ACF
- Breed resources: Breeders of Bobtails Society (BOBS):
1069 Gridley Street, Bay Shore NY 28621
Japanese Bobtail Breeders' Society: http://www.jbbs.org/
Shorthair Japanese Bobtail Club (CFA): http://www.japanesebobtails.com/clubs.html
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