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The Japanese Bobtail Cat Breed


The Japanese Bobtail cat is documented in paintings and writings in Japan for at least a 1000 years. In the Smithsonian Institute in Washington there is a 15th century painting that depicts two long haired bobtails and sketches of bobtail cats sitting next to geishas are found in Japanese history.

Many legends exist around this cat breed and it is considered to be the good luck cat of Japan where ceramic cats can be seen in doorways with a raised paw.

Japanese Bobtail cat Blue-eyed female Japanese Bobtail cat - Japanese wikipedia

Judy Crawford sent the first cats to Elizabeth Freret in North America in 1968 and when Judy returned to the USA she brought more of these cats with her. Together these two women worked to get the Japanese Bobtail recognition and in June 1979 TICA gave the breed championship status. The long haired cats were only recognized in March 1991.


The unique pom-pom tail is what earned the Japanese Bobtail its name. The tail is unique to each cat and is composed of angles, kinks and curves. The tail must be close to and in balance with the body. The hair on the tail is longer than the hair on the body which gives it the pom-pom look. This bobtail cat breed comes in two coat varieties – short hair and long hair. The tail of the long haired variety looks like a chrysanthemum in full bloom. The bones in the tail are often fused and make it possible for the cat to “wag” its tail. Care should be taken when handling the cat to not injure the fragile bones of the tail.

Japanese bobtail cat

The head of this cat breed is triangular and the cheekbones are high and chiseled. They have large eyes with a pronounced slant and large ears set high up on the head. This is a medium sized cat breed with a slender body type. The hind legs are powerful and made for jumping. This muscular cat is able to jump to great heights with ease and grace. Male cats weigh between 8-10 pounds and females weigh between 5-7 pounds.

The coat comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns. The more traditional color is the tri-colored mi-ke which is a combination of snowy white, deep black and rich red. The eyes can be any color but the cats with two different eye colors or with blue eyes are highly prized.

The coat lies flat against the cat’s body and both the long hair and short hair varieties lack an undercoat. There is little shedding and the silkiness of the coat helps it to keep tangle free. A weekly brushing will keep the coat in perfect condition.

Personality & Temperament

Japanese good luck bobtail cat Maneki Neko Japanese lucky cat photo by BC Lafferty

The Japanese Bobtail is intelligent and very active with an outgoing personality. They are talkative and will communicate with you in soft chirps and meows. Playing is a favorite pastime and games that involve running and jumping are greatly enjoyed.

You will often find your cat on top of cupboards or on the fridge busy exploring the world from high up. This cat breed is not a lap cat but they are loyal to their family and will adapt well to children and other pets.

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