Japanese Bobtail Cats

My very own Maneki Neko

At the end of July 2007 I got my first Japanese Bobtail cat. I can’t tell you how excited I was. His name is Yoyo Chan, he’s white and black with a blue eye and a green eye and of course a bobbed tail.

I’ve had an interest in these cats for a long time now and to get one of these amazing cats to join my family is wonderful. Not sure the other three cats agree!!

I hope to make more people aware of these friendly, talkative cats. For details of where you can apply to get your own bobtail, please don't hesitate to contact me here

5/2/08 He certainly is fun! Today he managed to get into the tea bags , Japanese tea of course, and now has them shredded all over my sitting room floor! He also steals elastic bands and plant labels from next doors garden.


NEW ARRIVALS to my bobtail crew are Dixie (or loolah as I can her!) she's Yo Chans half sister and Mimiko (moomoo) who is Yo Chans daughter. Pictures to follow!!

Bobtail history

From written records it seems that the domestic cat first arrived in Japan from China or Korea at least a thousand years ago.

The Japanese Bobtail breed has most certainly existed in Japan for many centuries.

The Bobtail has appeared in paintings, sculptures and architecture for over 9 centuries. Such images represent these cats as good luck and a sign of hospitality.


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 Bobtails live to play fetch and unlike most other breed of cat they love to carry things in their mouths.

They are people cats, believing that they are indeed simply small humans, whether this is riding on your shoulders of chatting away in their wonderful sing song meow, they will become a major part of your family.

They make great travellers and show little fear in strange surroundings. They make friends with other pets very happily though the other pets, may find their constant cry of ‘play with me now, play with me now, play with me now’ a little annoying!

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 colours, especially the calico (called mi-ke, meaning "three-fur", by the Japanese) are most preferred, but the Japanese Bobtail can come in any colour.

Japanese Bobtails come in both shorthaired and semi-longhaired varieties. The tail is naturally short, and never cut or docked


5The 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 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 blasé 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 behaviour.

Once a kitten was placed with a couple (one student, one professional) who were sure they would have enough time to keep the kitten entertained.

Three days later, they received 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.

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 cliquish among themselves and avoid other (non-Bobtail) cats. Japanese Bobtails, being fearless, get along with dogs just fine.



The most popular colour 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 colours for both sexes.

Solid-coloured cats without white markings (6) (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 colour, and such kittens are generally more expensive.

Smokes and silvers have recently turned up in the North American gene pool, but can be hard to find. As the Bobtail is an Asian breed, some registries allow the pointed (Siamese) and sepia (Burmese) colours, 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 chiselled, 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, chiselled 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, and the hind legs are somewhat longer than the front legs, but deeply angulated at rest, so that the back is carried level. The paws are small, neat, and oval.

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 show whether you are looking at a shorthair or a longhair, in any season.

Both types are actually quite water-resistant, so the most difficult part of show grooming a Japanese Bobtail is getting them wet during their bath!

Click here to read three Bobtail tales.