Japanese Bobtail

Japanese Bobtail stare at short tail blue background

Japanese Bobtail breed standard: CFA, TICA, CCA-AFC I Size: 30 to 35 cm I Average lifespan: 12 to 16 years I Temperament: Extroverted, talkative, and intelligent I Coat: Short I Origin: Japan.

The Japanese Bobtail, with its short pom pom ball tail, is a unique and loving cat breed.

The origins of the Japanese Bobtail

Ancestral origins

The word “bobtail” references the Japanese Bobtail’s short tail, which is one of the main characteristics of the breed. When it comes to the word “Japanese” in the Japanese Bobtail’s name, this references the breed’s supposed origins, differentiating them from the American Bobtail. However, contrary to what the name suggests, it is possible that the Japanese Bobtail did not truly originate from Japan. Researchers have found engravings and statues of this unique cat in temples in China and Korea that date back to the 6th century, traces that are much older than depictions of the breed in Japan.

It is nevertheless in Japan where the breed was officially discovered. It is an old breed with a short tail that is perfectly natural and does not affect this cat’s health.

Temple cat

Thanks to their impressive hunting skills, Japanese Bobtails have always been appreciated by humans. In fact, this breed was particularly popular amongst farmers and in temples because it eliminated pests. This preserved crops and important documents. As a result, the Japanese Bobtail gradually became an essential good-luck charm.

The Japanese worship the cat to such an extent that it embodies success and prosperity. Such veneration explains why this breed is so often depicted in religious places, in paintings as well as the famous figurine of a cat sitting with its paw raised up.

Conquering the West

Even though the Japanese Bobtail is sometimes considered the Japanese alley cat par excellence, the breed remained highly confidential until the 1960s, when a few cats were brought to the United States. A modest breeder started breeding the Japanese Bobtail in the 1970s and the breed officially saw the light of day in 1976, in other words, centuries after their appearance in Asia.

It was not until the 1980s that the first Japanese Bobtails arrived in Europe and won over cat lovers. Despite this, the Japanese Bobtail remains a rather rare breed, somewhat outshone by the Manx cat.

Japanese Bobtail walk around outside
Japanese Bobtails are unique and lovable cats.

The character of the Japanese Bobtail

The Japanese Bobtail has all of the qualities that are typical of an Asian cat breed. These cats are curious, lively, and affectionate.

A robust and intelligent cat

Japanese Bobtails owe their short tails to a random and natural genetic mutation. As the breed did not go through any transformation done by human hands, Japanese Bobtails are robust animals that are not prone to getting sick or suffering from chronic diseases. In fact, this is a cat with a long average lifespan.

As these cats are particularly clever, they can easily learn tricks and surprise their owners with their resourcefulness. Their curiosity and adaptability make the Japanese Bobtail the perfect cat for owners who want to travel with their pet.

An outgoing cat

The Japanese Bobtail is a particularly talkative breed. This little companion always has something to say. They talk a lot, meowing to communicate but also to ask for hugs and food. This breed has a rich variety of expressions. It can feel like you are having a real dialogue with this cat.

Japanese Bobtail owners will therefore always know where their feline friend is, especially because these cats are extremely close and loyal to their humans. They stick to their owners like glue, following their every step every second of the day.

The physical characteristics of the Japanese Bobtail

Different types of Japanese Bobtails

There are two varieties of the Japanese Bobtail: short-haired Japanese Bobtails and long-haired Japanese Bobtails. However, outside of the length of the coat, the rest of the physical characteristics are the same.


This is a medium cat breed with a slender and short tail. As a result, it is often confused with the Manx cat, another tailless cat breed.


This breed has a triangular head with high and prominent cheekbones. Their ears, which are set wide apart are large, straight, and stand up. The Japanese Bobtail’s eyes are large and very expressive. They are oval-shaped and slant slightly towards the muzzle. They can be gray, green, amber, blue, copper, hazel, yellow or even minnow.


This breed’s main physical feature is its famous docked tail. This appendix, held high, can look like a pom pom ball or like a rabbit’s tail.

This cat bred naturally has a thin and athletic body. The back is always straight. Their back les are slightly bigger than their front legs, giving them a more elegant look. The legs are quite large, a reminder that this breed is skilled at hunting.

Coat and grooming


There are two varieties of the Japanese Bobtail:

  • Long-haired
  • Short-haired

This feline has a thin, soft, and silky coat with very little undercoat. Their coat is always longer around the tail, which can look a bit like a feather duster for cats with longer coats.


It is easy to groom short-haired Japanese Bobtails. You can brush this cat once a week to keep their coat knot-free.

Long-haired cats need to be brushed more often. However, no other extra grooming is necessary.

Did you know?

The tricolor Japanese Bobtails are nicknamed Mi-Ke (meaning three colors) and is a real good-luck charm for Japanese people. In fact, it was this cat that gave rise to the famous Maneki Neko, a figurine of a seated cat raising its paw, placed at the entrance of stores and temples as a greeting.

The visual of the Japanese Bobtail is at the origin of the creation of Hello Kitty.

This is one of the rare cats that appreciates water.

The Japanese Bobtail at a glance

Size: Between 30 and 35 cm for both males and females.

Weight: Between 2.5 and 4.5 kg (≈ 5.5 and 9.9 lb) for males and between 2.5 and 4 kg (≈ 5.5 and 8.8 lb) for females.

Health: Very robust. They rarely get sick and are not predisposed to any particular diseases.

Average lifespan 12 to 16 years.

Is the Japanese Bobtail good with children? The Japanese Bobtail is the perfect playmate for children, as long as they are respected.

Is the Japanese Bobtail an easy-going cat breed? This cat breed is friendly and social. Very easy-going, they would be happy in an apartment as long as their owner makes time to play with them.