Japanese Bobtail Cat-History, Appearance & Temperament

History     Appearance     Temperament



Japanese bobtail

The Japanese Bobtail is a natural breed of cat who arrived in Japan over 1,000 years ago. They are thought to have originated in China or Korea, although there have been references made about cats with tail deformities from all over Asia.

Japanese nobility kept these cats and would walk them on a lead. However,  when an infestation of rodents threatened to ruin the silk industry and in 1602 Japanese authorities decreed that all noble cats were to be released in order to control the rodent population.

In 1968, the Japanese Bobcat was sent to America Judy Crawford who had lived in Japan for the past 15 years and been breeding the Japanese Bobtail there. Two cats were imported, a tortoiseshell and white female called Madame Butterfly and a red and white male called Richard.  These cats were sent to a breeder by the name of Elizabeth Freret and the pair soon produced kittens. They were first shown in 1969.

The Japanese Bobcat is a symbol of good luck and happiness when found in the traditional colour pattern of mi-ke (which means three fur), which is white with red and black patches. This cat has been identified with the famous “Beckoning Cat” (see image below)

Beckoning cat


The Japanese Bobtail is a short haired cat of moderate size. The body is lean and muscular with slender legs, hind legs are a little longer than the front legs.

The head is wedge-shaped with a long face, high cheekbones, and large, oval eyes.  Ears are large and upright. All eye colours are accepted.

Soft and silky fur which lies flat against the body.  All coat colours are permitted but the most sought after is the mi-ke (pronounced meekay), mentioned above.

The tail of the Japanese Bobtail is short, the length is between 5-10 cm long. It comes in many shapes and sizes, most are curled,  the fur on the tail is longer than the rest of the body.


This is an extremely intelligent and lively breed of cat who remains this way well into adulthood. Because of this, they are easy to train to do tricks or walk on a leash. They are extremely curious, active and playful. They are a talkative breed of cat and it is said that they have a “melodious chant” which they use when they are happy.

The Japanese Bobtail gets along with children and other pets and make a great family pet.

Image courtesy of *suika*


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