Japanese Bobtail Cats

Are you curious about the elegant, short-tailed Japanese Bobtail cats? Here's a brief history of these beautiful felines.

Experts believe (based on written documents) that the first domestic cats first arrived to Japan around a thousand years ago. They also believe that these cats may have come from China or Korea. It is unclear, however, when the first bobtailed cats appeared.

Interestingly, during the 1600s, authorities declared that cats should be allowed to roam free. The government adopted this measure to protect silk-worms from rodents. It is believed that many of these cats were bobtailed felines.

How long have these Japanese cats been around? Evidence shows that the Japanese Bobtail has been present in Japan for several centuries.

Indeed, this exquisite feline appears in many ancient Japanese paintings and prints. By the 17th century, this breed was already popular. There are silk paintings and wood prints of this period showcasing the Japanese Bobtail.

Despite its long history, however, the Japanese Bobtail cat arrived to America until the 20th century. Some experts believe that servicemen imported the first Japanese cats into the United States in the early years of the 20th century. However, they were not actively bred until the late Elizabeth Freret brought, in 1968, three Japanese Bobtail cats to the United States.

The Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) awarded the Japanese Bobtail breed provisional status in 1971. In 1976, the CFA accepted the breed for competition. The long-haired Japanese Bobtail was accepted for competition by this organization in 1993.

Maneki Neko

Most experts agree that the Maneki Neko ("The Beckoning Cat") is a Japanese Bobtail cat. Maneki Neko figurines depict a short-tailed cat with a raised paw. The "Beckoning Cat" (also known as "Welcoming Cat") is said to bring luck to its owner.

Maneki Nekos are popular not only in Japan, but also around the world. You will see them in homes and at business establishments.

There are many legends surrounding this particular Japanese lucky cat. One of them says that a beckoning cat saved a samurai from a certain death. The samurai was so grateful that he took care of the cat for the rest of its life. Upon the cat’s death, the samurai erected a statue in honor of his beloved cat.

Japanese Bobtail cat -
appearance and health

A medium-sized cat, the Japanese Bob is best known for its "bobbed" tail, which looks more like a bunny tail. This short, pom-pom-like tail is caused by a recessive gene.

These cats have a slender yet muscular body. Overall, Japanese Bobtails have good health and are strong and active.

The Japanese Bobtail is a natural breed and it comes in different colors and patterns, including:

  • Solid colors (white, black, red, and cream).

  • Tabby patterns (i.e. red tabby and white, blue tabby and white, brown tabby and white, etc.)

  • The favored mi-ke, which means tricolor (calico). This version comes in the traditional calico pattern (black, red and white) and in diluted colors (blue, cream and white).

Fun breed morsels

  • The density of the tail's fur varies from cat to cat.

  • According to the breed’s standard, the head of a Japanese Bob should form an equilateral triangle.

  • Two bobtailed parents will always produce short-tailed cats.

  • The Manx, another short-tailed feline, is not related to the Japanese Bobtail. What's more, the gene that causes the short tail in Japanese Bobs is not the same gene that produces the Manx's short tail.

  • In Japan, the Japanese Bobtail was not considered a purebred cat for a long time. Japanese Bobs were viewed as run of the mill domestic cats.

The long-haired Japanese Bobtail

Even though long-haired Bobs are not as common as their short-haired counterparts, experts believe that they have been around for a very long time. Long-haired Bobtails also appear in early prints and paintings.

It is not exactly known how this version of the Japanese Bobtail came about. Many believe that Bobs of the colder regions of Japan developed long hair as a means to protect themselves from the elements.

As I previously mentioned, the CFA accepted the long-haired Japanese Bobtail for championship competition in 1993. Other cat registries that also accept the long-haired version of the Japanese Bob are the ACA, the CCA, and TICA.


Japanese Bobs make wonderful pets. They are highly intelligent, active, and social. They also adapt to new people and situations quite quickly. Japanese Bobs are very playful, vocal and friendly.

To learn more about the Japanese cat and more, check the links below.

Related Pages

Maneki Neko

More about Japanese lucky cats

Manx cat information

Leave Japanese Bobtail Cats and return to Cat Breeds

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