Japanese Bobtail

Japanese Bobtail.

It’s been said that Japanese Bobtails, or JBTs for short are the inspiration behind the Maneki Neko, a cat ornament that graces the shelves of commercial stores. Japanese Bobtails are one of the few rare breeds that are naturally occurring. These “smiling” cats are native in the land of Japan, and like their beckoning display counterparts, it’s believed that JBTs bring luck, prosperity and happiness to its owners.

One unique characteristic the breed has is its bobbed tail. Even more curious is the fact that no two bobtails are alike! Each tail that belongs to JBTs have their own kinks, angles and curves.

History of Japanese Bobtail

According to ancient manuscripts, JBTs arrived in Japan from Korea and China a thousand years ago. These cats can be found in paintings, prints and long-forgotten manuscripts. Legends say that the original domesticated variety started life as Buddhist Monk cats between 600 to 700 AD to eliminate rats that chewed on the temple’s rice paper scrolls.

Then in the 1600s rat population became a problem, so the emperor decreed that all cats in Japan were to be set free in order to exterminate the rodents. Thus, the cats roamed free in the streets. In 1968 an American named Elizabeth Frenet brought home a JBT, and in 1976 the breed was accepted for championship status. Its long-haired cousin was accepted in 1993.

Size of the Japanese Bobtail

JBTs are of medium size, characterized by a slender physique and legs that can be used to jump great heights. The males are larger and weigh anywhere between 8 to 10 lbs. while their female counterparts can weigh anywhere between 5 to 7 lbs.

Personality of the Japanese Bobtail

A cat that’s always happy, loving and playful is what perfectly describes the JBT. They love to focus on humans and their owners, and their primary goal is always to be the center of your family’s attention. You’ll find that any activity you do in the house, whether it be watching TV, reading a book or working on the computer will be of great interest to them. When the doorbell rings, you can be sure that your pet will be there at the front door, acting like a most gracious host!

Japanese Bobtails love to hold a conversation and are very smart creatures. Their vocal tones can be like a songstress or a birds’, and they’ll almost always speak when spoken to. Playtime with these cats can range from simple toy fetching to full-blown soccer games. JBTs can be trained to leap through hoops, jump hurdles and “perform” in front of guests. Set up a course and watch them finish it in record time!

Japanese Bobtail Kittens

JBTs usually have three or four per litter. The kittens get out bigger than other breeds! What’s more, JBT kittens become more playful explorers much sooner than the rest. They aren’t prone to health issues and have relatively low mortality rates. You’ll be sure to enjoy your JBT for a long time if you ever decide to get one as a pet.


JBTs as pets will require a huge commitment from you and your family, so it’s best to consider first if you can meet all the responsibilities that come with caring for a cat. Before buying, visit the breeder’s home and see if the cat’s parents and siblings are well taken care of. Well-balanced JBTs are ones that have an even, friendly temperament and socialize well with its peers.

Reputable breeders will start selling the litter when the kittens reach around 3 to 4 months of age.

Japanese Bobtail Health

JBTs are renowned for their longevity and good health, with adults living a full life of 18 years. The reason behind this is that the breed has a more diverse gene pool than other purebreds. Their tails aren’t results of disorders or diseases, but rather a curious genetic mutation.

Care of the Japanese Bobtail

Owners must devote plenty of time for play, exercise and interaction. JBTs are quite agile and can leap up high, so it’s best to set up a cat tree for your pet to rest in. Do not allow your cat to roam outside as they can diseases from animals and other cats.

Provide a scratching post and observe regular grooming to keep your Japanese Bobtail in tip-top shape!

Litter Box Training

Litter box training is important for the cleanliness of your pet and home. JBTs who live with their parents are naturally trained to use it at an early age. Place the litter box in a quiet area where there’s little foot traffic. Keep the box always clean and full of fresh, unsoiled litter. Remember to scoop out feces and change the material each day.

Visit a professional vet if your cat suddenly stops using the litter abruptly and without clear reason.

Japanese Bobtail Nutrition

Your JBT will need a hundred percent in terms of getting their dietary needs met, primarily through dry cat food. Owners must feed their cats at regular intervals so they can settle into a nice routine and prevent an upset stomach.

Consult your vet if you’re thinking of changing your cat’s food. Do it gradually by introducing the new food little by little; if your cat starts exhibiting digestive problems, it’s best to return to the original diet.

Coat and Eye Colors

JBTs come in many colors, including bi-color, vans, calico or solid. Moreover, some may exhibit classic, mackarel or spotted patterns. The U.S. variants come in either bi-color or van more than their solid counterparts. The most recognizable color in a Japanese Bobtail is the tri-colored, aka the mi-ke (calico) variety.

Heterochromia is also present in the JBT, though it’s more common in this breed as compared to others, i.e., the Turkish Van.

Japanese Bobtail Grooming

JBTs are classified into the short and longhaired variety. Both exhibit soft, silky fur that feels nice to the touch. Comb your pet once a week to eliminate the dead hair. While doing so, check your cat’s ears for debris and clean accordingly. Give tartar-control kibble and the occasional treats to remove plaque, as well as regular brushings using a vet-approved toothpaste.

Children and Other Pets

It’s an understatement to say that Japanese Bobtails make great pets. They love to play tag and can adjust easily if there are other pets, even canines!

When introducing your JBT, make sure to do it in a controlled environment with maximum supervision.

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