The Japanese Bobtail is a breed of cat with a very long history that probably goes back over 1,000 years. The Japanese people prefer this cat to have a coat that is made up of two or three colors. The three colored Japanese Bobtail is a calico cat with orange, black and lots of white fur. This is also called a tortoiseshell-and-white cat. The Japanese call this mi-ke, meaning “three-fur” and it is probably their favorite. When you say “mi-ke” you should say “mee-kay” and it will sound correct.
People think that the first domestic cats were bought to Japan by Buddhist monks from other parts of Asia, mainly China, around 600 AD. Some of these cats had very short tails. The short tail is caused by a “recessive gene”. Genes are small particles inside the cells of the cat that control how the cat will look and behave when born. The recessive gene usually has little effect but because Japan is an island its effect became noticeable. This is because the cats were all in one place and mated with each other.
By the 19th century (1801 – 1900) paintings showed the early bobtailed cats. And in 1968 an American lady brought some Japanese Bobtails over from Japan and made sure they mated to produce kittens. Today in 2012 they are fully accepted by the big American cat associations. They are also accepted in Europe except for Great Britain (UK).
The famous beckoning cat that people see outside shops in Japan is the Japanese Bobtail. It is meant to bring luck to business. One of the pictures above shows the left paw raised up like a beckoning cat. In Japanese they are called “Maneki-neko” cats. They are also called lucky cat or money cat.
How The Japanese Bobtail Looks
Although we see lots of Japanese Bobtails in two or three colors, with plenty of white, the cat associations allow all kinds of colors and patterns. As I said the red, black and white cat is the best particularly if the eyes have different colors (called “odd-eyed”). If the large eyes are the same color, they are blue or gold.
The tail is like the pom-poms used by cheer leaders. The tail should be 2-3 inches long. It might be bendy or stiff. This cat is medium sized weighing 6-9 pounds (2.5-4 kilograms). There is nothing extreme about this cat but the tail does stand out.
This cat is alert and active. They are chatty and like company. Some people say they sing rather than meow. I am not sure what that means!