Bobtails in Japan

Bobtails in Japan

by Dirk and Koma-chan
(Ehime, Japan)

Before ... just after rescue. The size of a 1,000 note.

Before ... just after rescue. The size of a 1,000 note.

Before ... just after rescue. The size of a 1,000 note. Turning around, with his little pom-pom up After ... a few weeks later Now

Firstly, please allow me to humbly say, I don't think you should use the term "Jap", as in Jap Bob. It really is equivalent to "nigger". If I wrote about nigger cats, I don't think you would like it or publish it.

Putting that aside, can I just say it is true that in Japan, Bobtails have become fairly common amongst street cats, i.e. ferals, although it is probably fair to say 'semi-ferals' as many cats in the towns and cities live outside and independently from humans, but are still fed by humans and relatively friendly. Thanks to a mix of people's tendency, climate and environment, a kind of co-existence takes place. I have seen bent tails, corkscrews, rump tails and the classic bob. In our town they are mostly dark haired or black. I have only seen one full tortoiseshell-on-white and no Mike bobs.

This is one of our friends, San-chan. He was rescued from a local park which is commonly used for probably both dumping and feeding strays at an age when he was too young to survive. I watched him for a few days to make sure he had no mother or siblings but he was becoming increasingly sick. Temples are also common dumping/feeding areas as people know Buddhist pilgrims are far more likely to feed them there. They don't want to kill or neuter them, so they "leave them for the Buddha to take care of".

He may never be a show cat, but you can see his evolution and it was wonderfully gratifying to turn his life around. Sadly kawaii and kirei ("cute" and "clean or orderly") and money, dominates a very abusive and poorly regulated pet industry in Japan. Few people would want to pick up a dirty, flea ridden sick kitten and take him home.

Yes, it is true, even ex-feral bobtails will play fetch, be happily carried outside inside clothing and walk on leashes (a necessity where even in the suburbs there is so much congestion and no sidewalks). He has always been very courageous against bigger cats, is fascinated by their tails, but has socialized well with cats whilst being very cool and stand off-ish to humans by nature. Not shy but independent.

Yes, he chirps rather than meows, has a wide range of voices and, largely, does not purr ... except when he is sucking. I suspect he was separated too young and he still takes comfort in doing so. Hell when his claws need cut. He is still a full male, until he becomes full-size, but currently kept indoors.

At some point we may have to decide whether to return him to where he came (TNR) now he can survive. There are many other kittens that need rescued and treated ...

Unfortunately, it is terrible to write, the crows in Japan have learnt a trick of using human's pavement and tarmac to kill stray kittens. As a rule, crows eat carrion and don't hunt to kill. They cannot fight cats. What they have learnt is that by picking up a weak kitten and flying off with it, they can drop them on pavement and kill or split them, at which point they become crow food.

In addition to the heat and dryness of summer, and cold of winter, it is tough for kittens to survive. Cat flu and FIV are fairly common.

Dirk and Koma-chan

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Bobtails in Japan

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May 20, 2011 Questioning Bobtail genes
by: The original author

One thing I wanted to question is all that is written about Japanese Bobtail genes on the internet.

The general opinion is that you need two Bobtails to make bobtail kittens.

I am not sure this is true, especially of feral cats in Japan.

As written, feral Bobtails are relatively common in Japan and are not thought of special. However, I think the statistical chance of two Bobtails getting together are actually fairly low, and I see no evidence of entirely Bobtail litters from such mating.

We see quite a few "bent" or half-tail cats which, while not being "show" quality, obviously have some of the Bobtail gene. I think something else is going on regarding the recessive gene much the same way as "red heads" amongst human beings.

My view is purely anecdotal not scientific. However, I do not think the "urban legends" surrounding Bobtails are scientific either. They are surrounded by myth!

Consequently, I have to question the "purity" of any Japanese Japanese Bobtail pedigree, as I suspect the first ones imported to the States were also (lucky) street cats.

It would make a fascinating research project for a feline loving academic.

If the truth be told, most of the animal breeding pet industry is Japan is terrible and abusive, with roots going back to "Untouchable", and even semi=criminal backgrounds. I would strong recommend no pedigree breeders to sell to pet dealers in Japan ever. The concepts of pedigrees, and animal welfare, are not well embedded or regulated and pets are often little more than disposable fashion toys. Of course, there are sincere owners and NPO but even the highly urbanize environment is not suitable for any animals and most dogs live unhappy lives tied outside buildings for life.

If anyone know of any sincere Bobtail owners in Japan with traceable heritages, I would be very interested to know about them.

San-chan continues to grow up. He is cool to humans and a handsome, quiet, self-assured, medium-sized cat. I find him very well controlled, allowing the other rescued cats to eat first, and then taking his own. Never pigging out and being curious, including to water, but not destructive.


May 14, 2011 Hi
by: Michael

Hi...it is nice to hear from Japan. Thank you for sharing.

I apologise for using the abbreviated version of Japanese Bobtail. I heard this in the USA at cat shows so copied it without realising its meaning in Japan.

I will change that immediately.

I love first hand experiences and insights so I really appreciate your contribution.

Michael Avatar



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