Kurilian Bobtail

kurilian bobtail

Photograph of TAIGA © Helmi Flick

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Introduction

The Kurilian Bobtail (Kurilian, Curilsk Bobtailis, Kuril Bobtail) is a “natural” cat and a “mutated” cat. The breed is little known in the West but is the 3rd most popular breed in Russia, where there are about 40 catteries – see three excellent Russian bred Kurilian Bobtail cats and some interesting information. I think it is interesting and preferable to study the Russian Kurilian because Russians have a longer association with this breed and founded it.

The breed’s geographical origin is the Kuril and Sakhalin Islands (see video below of a Kurilian bob as a farm cat on Sakhalin Island). This is a rare cat breed ranking 9 out of 10 where 10 is the most rare, by my reckoning.

My thanks to Lynda Wagner for the above video. See details of her cattery on this page (new window).

Kuril Islands

This is where the islands are:

kuril islands map wikimedia commons

Reproduced under Wikimedia Commons

kuril islands

Reproduced under Wikimedia Commons user: Eliezg

Because this cat has apparently evolved in isolation on this island chain in the Pacific over the past 100-150 years, it can be called a natural cat. Natural in this instance means no interference by mankind. The Kuril Islands are, it seems, currently governed by Russia after a long dispute with Japan. There are 16,000 inhabitants. The climate is severe with long cold winters and short summers.

The climate has probably, to a degree, dictated this breeds’ coat, which is short to medium long and described as a “warm woolly coat”. All colors are encountered. It is not completely clear what the position was, in respect of the evolution of this breed more than 150 years ago, nor when or how the dominant genetic mutation came about to give this gorgeous looking cat her bobtail.

kurilian bobtail

Kurilian Bobtail photo © Helmi Flick

However it would seem that the Kurilian Bobtail was a wild cat on the islands until domesticated. The exact nature of the genetic mutation is still unclear (there is still a lot to learn about cat genetics) and there is speculation that it is the same as the Japanese Bobtail. At one stage it was believed that this breed was the Japanese Bobtail. If there is a connection between these two bobtailed cats it is possible that the Japanese bobtail inherited her genetic background from the Kurilian rather than vice-versa.

This alludes to the possibility that Japanese settlers on the islands, before the Russians kicked them off in 1945, brought over domestic cats that mated with the Kurilian resulting in the Japanese Bobtail. The history is similar to the Manx cat in relation to the tail (the Manx has no tail) and in respect of the isolated nature of the breed’s evolution.

However, the genetic mutation the gives the Kuril her short tail has no accompanying potentially harmful condition as is the case for the Manx. This is a healthy and robust breed it seems.

History

Date Event
to 1900s? Breed evolves as a small wild cat on volcanic Pacific Ocean Islands until domesticated
1950-70 Breed “discovered” on islands
1980 Breed imported from the islands to Russia
1990 The breed’s first shows
1991 Soviet Felinological Federation (SFF) publishes breed standard
1995 World Cat Federation (WCF) recognizes the breed and standard. See WCF Breed Standard – longhair. (link broken)
2001 Breed standard re-written
2003 FiFe recognizes the breed as a Native Russian Breed
2003 TICA recognizes the breed
Future Plans to expand the breed (particularly to USA) as the Kurilian Bobtail is almost exclusively bred in Russia. Representations to CFA and recognition by that registry are an objective
2012 Update: Kurilians have been upgraded to Championship
status by TICA as of May 2012. This should promote this fine cat breed.
kuril bobtail

Photograph © Helmi Flick – this thumbnail links to another page where the appearance is discussed in reference to a large version of this photograph

It is said that this breed is smaller as a wild cat than as a domestic cat due to successful breeding. However, early bred Kurilian Bobtails were apparently small and cobby due to a small gene pool. They are now considered a large cat (15-19lbs), and described as “brawny”. I think these figures are a little exaggerated or relate to males only.

They are though larger than average (see largest domestic cat breed). They are well balanced, intelligent and have a gentle character. They prefer not to be solitary (and are therefore social cats) and in the wild they form packs, it has been said. The bobbed tail is 3-8 centimeters long (not including the fur – according to the breed standard).

The breed standard allows all colors except color points, fawn, chocolate, cinnamon, lilac and these with white. A favored color/pattern is Japanese style calico (Mi-ke). This cat is dog-like, faithful and likes water (in the wild they feed on fish apparently). They have a “wild look”, which is desired by breeders.

Breeders

Selected from the first 3 pages of Google search list (2008 – things change of course).

USA Pride Kurilian Bobtails (no longer a link to site 7-2012). This breeder’s website ranks top of the Google listings and is as far as I can ascertain the premier cattery for this breed in the USA.

Ketoi CZ – Located in the Czech Republic (link broken)

kurilian bobtail

Kurilian Bobtail photo © Helmi Flick

Barrayar Located in Russia. It seems that the cattery is located in Moscow and the regions.

Siberia Frost Located in Russia. They don’t say where they are located. Most of the catteries are in Habarovsk, Moscow, Astrahanj, Ufa, Saratov and Volgogradand.

OrchidBobs Based in the USA I think (just doesn’t come across on the site where they are).

Superbob Located in Moscow. How do I know? They say it on their site! This is rare (to say where you’re based) judging by common practice.

Vetka Sakury RU Link broken 8th July 2011. Located in Russia but can’t see where as once again it is not clear on the site. This is not due to it being in Russian.

Legacy Kurilians They say that they are the only Kuril breeder in the USA which appears not to be true as USA Pride above is also based in the USA.

Note: I don’t think this breeder is functional as this is a one page site with no contact details!

WCF Note (from above): The WCF was founded on 1988 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil by three cat clubs. They were looking for a more democratic and human approach in the cat fancy. Currently the WCF consists of more than 540 clubs throughout the world in all continents including USA. Sources:

  • Wikipedia (cat and Kuril Islands)
  • Messybeast
  • Breeders websites

 


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