Saturday, February 8, 2014

JAPANESE BOBTAIL (Cat)

Did you think I'd given up on the cats, dog and insects?  Thought I'd give them a rest for a while but they are always there as a good stand-by when one is needed.

The Japanese Bobtail is a breed of domestic cat with an unusual 'bobbed' tail more closely resembling the tail of a rabbit than that of other cats.  The variety is native to Japan and Southeast Asia, though it is now found throughout the world.  The breed has been known in Japan for centuries and it frequently appears in traditional folklore and art.


As in most other breeds, Japanese Bobtails may have almost any colour (or colours, arranged in any number of patterns).  Predominantly-white calicoes are especially favoured by the Japanese and other cat fanciers and strongly represented in folklore, though other colorations are also accepted by breed standards.

One theory on short-tailed cats in Japan indicates that they arrived from the Asian continent at least 1,000 years ago.  In 1602,  Japanese authorities decreed that all cats should be set free to help deal with rodents threatening the silk worm industry.  At that time, buying or selling cats was illegal, and from then on bobtailed cats lived on farms and in the streets.  Japanese Bobtails thus became the "street cats' of Japan.

Around 1701, in "Kaempfers's Japan", the first book written by a Westerner about the flora, fauna and landscape of Japan, German doctor Englebert Kaempfer wrote "there is only one breed of cat that is kept.  It has large patches of yellow, black and white fur; it has a short tail that looks like it has been bent and broken.  It has no mind to hunt for rats and mice but just wants to be carried and stroked by women."  To me the one below looks as though it could be someone's pampered pet:


In 1968, Elizabeth Freret is the first known person to have imported the Japanese Bobtail in to the Western Hemisphere from Japan.  It was accepted for Championship status in the Cat Fancier's Association in 1976.  Recognition for the long hair variety followed in 1993.  As of 2013, there are a number of Japanese Bobtail breeders, most of whom are based in North American with a few in Europe and at least one in Japan, yet the breed remains rare.


The short tail is a cat body-type mutation caused by the expression of a recessive gene.  Generally, all kittens born to two botail parents will have bobtails as well, but progeny of only one bobtailed parent are much less likely to possess the trait.  Unlike the dominant Manx gene the Bobtail gene is not associated with skeletal disorders.  The Bobtail gene only affects the number of tail vertebrae present.


 Recent scientific studies on cat genetics led by researchers has indicated that the Japanese Bobtail breed ranks amongst one of the most genetically diverse of pedigree breeds.  Compared with other breeds,  Japanese Bobtails tend to have smaller litters with the kittens being proportionally larger at birth and developing at a faster rate.  Kitten mortality rares are reported to be comparatively low.


Generally speaking, members of this breed are active, intelligent cats, with a strongly human-oriented nature, are easier to train to perform tricks than most breeds. and are more likely to enjoy learning human-mediated activities like walking in a harness and leash, and playing fetch.  They are very attentive, alert felines that notice a lot.  Considered an unusually "talkative" breed, they often interact vocally with people.  Their soft voices are capable of nearly a whole scale of tones, leading to folk believing that they can sing.  Many owners also report a fondness of water, although this is not considered a breed-specific trait.
(Strangely enough, although our Precious is just a long-haired 'moggy' she will sit and carry on a conversation and also has quite a large range of different notes in her voice and at times almost seems to yodel.)


It mentions also that Sue Grafton in her book "W is for Wasted" speaks of she and her landlord acquiring a Japanese Bobtail cat named Ed which scratches a would-be killer and saves the life of the main character Kinsey Millhone.  I well remember reading that part of the story and was quite amazed and even amused by it. 

My thanks again to Wikipedia for the information about this delightful cat breed and to the 'free pics' I was able to find which always helps make the story complete.




12 comments:

  1. They look a little odd at first sight, but I was used to the look by the end of the post. I thought they had their tails docked like puppies often do and was very glad to read they don't. (Puppies and horses shouldn't either). Interesting how they are more vocal with a wide range of sounds.

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    1. I too was pleased that the tail was 'normal' for that species as I abhor docking of tails on other animals. As I wrote the description I got to really like this cat.

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  2. There is something kind of sad about a cat with no tail isn't there?

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    1. I guess to those of us that are used to our cats being tailed it does seem rather odd but, like everything else, if you grow up with it, then it's normal.

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  3. Hari OM
    Another lovely and informative post Mimsie. Some parts of Asia refer to the Year of the Cat instead as the Year of the Rabbit - and I think this may point to the reason why!!! That behind is definitely reminiscent of the leporidae. &*> YAM xx

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    1. Thank you. I get your point about the Year of the Cat in Asia...I like the idea of having a year dedicated to cats. xx

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  4. A cat without a tail just doesn't look balanced.
    Merle.............

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    1. It does look 'not quite right' doesn't it but as I said to Delores (above) I guess it's just what one is used to. I think dogs look wrong without tails too.

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  5. Never seen one of these before, interesting reading.

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    1. I thought they were so different they were well worth finding out about.

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  7. Hello friend: I've been visiting your web and I found "great", with good newspaper articles.

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