Japanese Bobtail Cat: The Essential Guide to This Royal Breed

Japanese Bobtail

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The first thing you probably noticed about the Japanese Bobtail was, well, its bobbed tail. Adorable! But that cute tail is just the beginning of what makes the Japanese Bobtail a striking feline in the cat fancy. With its unique coat pattern, bright eyes, and long legs, this elegant cat is definitely hard to ignore.


What makes the Japanese Bobtail cat even harder to ignore? Their constant meowing! And their tendency to be a little bit nosy! You can almost guarantee that you’ll be woken up by a head bonk or playful jump when a Japanese Bobtail is in your home. But if playing with an energetic, dog-like kitty isn’t enough motivation to get you up in the morning, what is?



Japanese Bobtail Cat Breed Origin & History

Nobody knows where the Japanese Bobtail came from! It’s believed that the breed’s ancestors came from Korea and China, entering Japan at the start of the sixth century. They were said to stay on ships that went to and from these countries, protecting the silk goods transported between the territories’ ports.


It’s unknown if those boat-dwelling cats had tails or not. In fact, nobody is even sure when, where, and how the bobbed tail mutation started.


Short-Tailed Royalty

While it’s unclear where the Bobtail came from, it’s known that these short-tailed kitties were seen around the Far East for hundreds of years. There are Japanese folklore and stories about cats with bobbed tails. They are also depicted in woodcut and silkscreen prints between 1600 and 1867. The Japanese Bobtail wasn’t just popular — this cat was prized.


In the 15th century, the Japanese Bobtail often appeared around the temples and homes of the Imperial Japanese families. They were not only considered beautiful and exotic, but lucky. Japanese Bobtails with red, black, and white markings were called Mi-Ke (“three fur”). These cats were considered lucky and lived in temples with monks.


Japanese Bobtail Remains Humble

Despite their fancy history, Japanese Bobtail cats weren’t afraid to get their paws dirty. In the 15th century, this kitty hunted rodents and destroyed silkworms. After the Japanese government ordered cats to be set free to protect the silk industry, Japanese Bobtails ended up on the streets.


Hardy and adaptable, the Japanese Bobtail quickly became a working cat in Japan. But they later caught the eye of cat fanciers overseas. The tailless cat came to North America in 1968. The Cat Fanciers’ Association accepted them for registration just one year later in 1969. In 1971, the breed was granted provisional status. The Cat Fanciers’ Association finally granted the Japanese Bobtail championship status in 1976.


RELATED: Manx Cat Breed: A Tell-All About a Tail-Free Feline



Japanese Bobtail Cat Breed Personality

Even though their history is a mystery, it’s no secret that the Japanese Bobtail is the perfect feline companion. This is a cat that will never leave your side. Bold and curious, the Japanese Bobtail will often follow you from room to room, always finding a way to become part of the action.






Japanese Bobtail cats are not too happy when they’re left alone. They are a social breed that wants to spend time with you whenever possible. That means cuddling on the couch or watching you cook from atop the counter.


When left alone, the Japanese Bobtail might get a bit destructive. This super-intelligent cat knows how to cause a bit of mischief to get attention. They will quickly learn how to open cabinets and drawers. They will also become quite aware of which items will make the loudest crash when they get pushed to the floor.


RELATED: Separation Anxiety in Cats: Signs & Symptoms


The Japanese Bobtail is adaptable and hardy. They warm up to people fast, including strangers. They also enjoy meeting other animals. The Japanese Bobtail is known to greet guests at the door, always happy to see a new face. They can quickly learn tricks, including “fetch” and walking on leashes. This is an entertaining and lively breed that you’ll always love playing with.


The Japanese Bobtail is known for being quite talkative, which only adds to their quirky and social personality. Many breeders call their wide range of meows “singing.” Their chirp-like voices help them get the attention they desire, so expect to spend some time hearing about your cat’s day as you go about your business. They aren’t afraid to tell you what’s on their mind!



Japanese Bobtail Characteristics (Physical)

No two Japanese Bobtail stubs are the same! While the Japanese Bobtail is known for its unique tails, they’re an elegant and athletic cat with many other interesting physical characteristics. This is a distinct breed with a detailed standard the cats must meet!


Japanese Bobtail Size

At 5-10 pounds, the Japanese Bobtail is a medium-sized cat. It’s long, lean, and elegant. You won’t see flabby or tubular Bobtails. Their torso also sports well-developed muscles.



The Japanese Bobtails head forms a triangle. The Cat Fancier’s Association (CFA) describes their head as “long and finely chiseled,” with high cheekbones, a long nose, and a full chin. Their muzzle is broad, rounding into the whisker break.


Eye Color

The Japanese Bobtail has large, oval eyes. They are wide, alert, and slanted when viewed from the side. The Cat Fanciers’ Association doesn’t specify any particular eye color for the breed.


Legs & Paws

The tailless cats have long, slender legs. But they don’t appear dainty thanks to the leg’s defined muscles. The hind legs are noticeably longer than their front legs and, the hocks are deeply angled.


Their paws are oval-shaped. There should be five toes on their front paws and four on the back.



This cat has large and expressive ears. They are upright and set wide apart. Rather than flaring outward like many cats, the Japanese Bobtail’s ears sit at right angles, giving them an alert appearance.



You knew this was coming! It’s time to talk about the Bobtail’s unique tail. Each Japanese Bobtail has a unique tail, and no specific type or length is preferred.


This breed’s tail must have one or more curves, angles, or kinks. Their tail should also be no longer than three inches. While no further appearance is required, the cat’s tail must be a shape and size that “harmonizes” with the rest of its body.



The Japanese Bobtail can have short or long fur. The texture is soft and silky, with no noticeable undercoat. You’ll notice longer hair near the back of their torso, including the britches and tail. They also have ear and toe tufts.


The CFA doesn’t prefer any particular color or pattern over another. This breed can be a solid color, bi-color, or tri-color. It’s not important which color is more dominant, but judges prefer cats with “bold, dramatic markings” and “vividly contrasting colors.”


Japanese Bobtail Lifespan

This hardy kitty can live up to 15 years with proper treatment and regular vet visits.






Japanese Bobtail Health Problems

Unlike many purebred cats, the Japanese Bobtail is known to be pretty disease-resistant. The CFA describes them as “strong and healthy cats.” Still, they are prone to diseases that are common in all domestic cats.


Upper Respiratory Infections

Upper respiratory infections can easily affect other cats in your home, making it extremely important to get your cat treated if you suspect any infections of the ears, nose, throat, or sinuses. Symptoms to look out for include sneezing, congestion, coughing, open-mouthed breathing, and fever.



If you notice that your cat is dehydrated and excessively drinking water, they may have Type 1 or Type II diabetes. Diabetes occurs when your cat lacks insulin. Luckily, this is extremely manageable if you follow your vet’s guidance.



While it’s not as common for cats to get cancer as dogs, it’s still a possibility. In fact, one in five cats will be diagnosed with cancer. Check for lumps and swelling, as well as weight loss, vomiting, and diarrhea.


Chronic Kidney Disease

This is one of the most common diseases in all cats. It can lead to kidney failure if not diagnosed and addressed, making it very important to bring your cat to regular checkups. Symptoms include a dry coat, constipation, bad breath, vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive thirst.



Japanese Bobtail Cat Breed Care

It’s important to brush your cat’s coat regularly, probably once a week. While the Japanese Bobtail is not known to get matted fur, a quick brush will ensure that your cat has a sleek and healthy coat. It will also eliminate dead fur that leads to excess shedding.


Always check your cat’s ears for dirt and wax buildup. You can gently wipe away anything you see with a vet-approved moist wipe. You should also brush their teeth regularly to avoid dental issues. Japanese Bobtail owners also trim their nails to lessen the damage these playful kitties can do to furniture.


This is a cat that loves treats. And you’ll often find yourself giving them snacks because of their sweet mews and tendency to do tricks. Make sure you’re providing them with healthy treats — and not an excessive amount!


Don’t let your Japanese Bobtail outside. An indoor lifestyle protects them from feral cats (and their diseases), wild animals, dogs, and traffic. Several cats are hit by cars in the United States every year. Protect your kitty by giving them a fun and interactive space indoors.




Always look for cat food with quality ingredients. The first ingredient should always be protein, like turkey, salmon, or chicken. Avoid brands where the first ingredient is something like “chicken meal.”


Another thing to avoid is cat food heavy in carbohydrates, including wheat and corn. These ingredients are often called “fillers” because cats don’t need them in their diet. In fact, it’s often what makes cats overweight or develop allergies to their food.


A healthy alternative is wet food. Canned food has no carbohydrates. Instead, it’s made of over 70% water. Wet food is a great way to give your cat the liquids they need to ensure they don’t become dehydrated. When searching for snacks look for healthy cat treats with quality ingredients.


RELATED: Wet Vs. Dry Food: Why Does It Matter?



Children & Other Pets

Your Japanese Bobtail won’t shy away from meeting other pets. Whether it’s cuddling with a feline companion, chasing a cat-friendly dog around the house, or curiously watching your hamster traverse the living room in a ball, the Japanese Bobtail easily adapts to furry family members.


Because of their playful attitude, the Japanese Bobtail is the perfect friend for younger kids as well. They will play fetch for hours with children, entertaining them with flips and other acrobatics. The Japanese Bobtail is fast and agile. But they also love to cuddle with kids on the couch after a play session.


Make sure to watch how younger kids interact with the Japanese Bobtail. While quite tolerant, you want to make sure your cat’s tail isn’t pulled or that kids don’t get too rough.



More About This Breed

We told you the Japanese Bobtail was considered lucky in its homeland. Now meet Tama, the Maneki Neko (“beckoning cat”). This is a tri-colored Japanese Bobtail that lived at the Kotoku temple in Setagaya, Tokyo. There was a monk who shared what little food he had with this beloved cat.


It’s said that Lord Ii Natoka was caught in a dangerous storm near the temple. He hid under a tree, looking for shelter from the rain. That’s when he saw Tama beckoning him near the temple gate. He decided to follow the cat to the temple. Moments later, lightning struck the tree. Tama saved his life!


It’s no wonder that the Japanese Bobtail is known for bringing great prosperity and good fortune. Today, you can find Maneki Neko figures all over Japan, including restaurants, shops, and other businesses. The often waving Japanese Bobtail figure is said to bring good fortune and success.


Even today, Japanese Bobtails are seen as lucky and impressive. Compared to other breeds, Japanese Bobtail kittens are active earlier, walking much sooner than most cats. That also means they will get into trouble sooner, but most owners don’t mind!


This is a charming, lovable, and quirky cat that never wants to leave your side. They will follow you from room to room, singing the entire time. If you’re looking for a loyal cat with a lot of energy and intelligence, the Japanese Bobtail is for you!

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