By Anna Gromova, DVM & Gigi Guerriero
The Toybob cat is considered to be one of the smallest of all cat breeds that can’t grow any larger than the size of 4-6 month-old kitten of a well-developed domestic cat. They have a compact body, well-developed musculature, and a short tail that consists of several distorted vertebrae (visible length of 3-7 cm). Because its head and legs are in proportion to the body, it is considered a miniature and does not have the same dwarfism as the Munchkin cat. Regardless of their size, they are healthy. The breed is also known for their large eyes, and the big-eyed expression is what gives the Toybob its sweet-faced look. There are both a shorthair and longhair variety, with Toybob Shorthair more common at this time as not all professional cat associations have yet approved the longhair variety. Feline traits notwithstanding, the Toybob has all of the qualities one looks for in a companion cat. Toybobs thrive when they are with their people. The Toybob is intelligent, good-natured, affectionate and social; making it easily get along with other friendly animals.
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The Toybob cat was first documented in the Rostov Region of Russia in 1983 when a Thai Bob (Mekong) breeder adopted a stray seal-point cat. By her accounts, this cat looked very much like a Traditional Siamese cat, except for its kinked bobbed tail. It bred to a short-tailed seal-point female (said to have been a nonstandard Thai cat), and in 1988, the breeding of these two cats produced an unusually small bobbed tail kitten which became the foundation cat of the breed, first called Skif-Thai-Don. (also known in the longer form, Skif-Thai-Toy-Don).
By the late 1990’s, the Toybob were scarce when a breeder from the Urals of Russia, Alexis Abramchuk of Si-Savat cattery begun to expand the breed’s limited gene pool by adding Domestic cats. When Si-Savat discontinued their Toybob breeding program, local Ural breeder, Natalya Fedyaeva of Little Angel cattery, acquired from Abramchuk, a small male “Gavrila Fadeevich,” elsewhere, two females, all three from the Skif-Thai-Don line and began her restoration of the breed. Fedyaeva had observed that cats of very similar phenotype to the Toybob were spotted living locally around barns and streets in that region. Fedyaeva along with other local breeders began to work on developing the Toybob cat’s initially small genetic pool by adding those found domestic cats as well as other similarly phenotyped breeds. The Ural breeders began to refer to their cats as “Scyth Toybob” to differentiate them from the Skif-Thai-Don. In the early 2000’s due to major differences in breeding plans, the Toybob breed split into the two distinct breed groups from two different regions; the Rostov bred Skif-Thai-Don, and the Ural bred Scyth Toybob. With each Toybob breed group promoting a slightly different standard within the cat clubs and shows. This separation lasted until 2017 when both groups came to the consensus it would be best for the two groups to get together again, making it easier to unify the breed’s standards across all associations worldwide.
The breed has been known under several different names and is a major component of its complex history. It was in 1994 when the Toybob name was suggested by WCF judge and feline book (Mironova, O.S. Aboriginal Cats of Russia: From Attics and Backyard To World Recognition. Saint Petersburg. 2003. Print.) author Dr. Olga Mironova be given to all Toybob cats in development. The breed expanded internationally when in 2004 (Scyth) Toybobs were imported to the United States, and four years later the cats entered Experimental status within TICA under the general name, Toybob. In 2014, the majority of TICA registered Toybob breeders began to work in close cooperation, focusing on advancing the breed’s recognition. A year later, led by veterinary surgeon Dr. Anna Gromova, DVM their official breed club “International Toybob Cat Club” (ITCC) formed; with the dedication to promoting the breed worldwide, mentor new breeders, unify the Toybob standards and advance the breed across all Cat Fancy associations. As aforementioned, at the beginning of 2017, both groups came to the consensus it would be best for the two groups to unite again and together, the breed successfully advanced to Registration Only within TICA; with work underway in getting the breed to Championship status worldwide as it has in its native country.
The Toybob cat’s most distinctive feature is it’s kinked bobbed tail and just like other known kinked bobbed tail breeds, the tail does not affect its agility or health. At the time the breed was registered with TICA, little to no genetic research had been done on the breed to learn more about the unique genes behind the Toybob cat’s small size and bobbed tail appearance. Leading to much speculation as to it having possible relations to other known bobtail breeds. In 2016, the ITCC decided to perform preliminary testing with the world-renowned geneticist and feline expert Dr. Leslie A. Lyons to find any connection to other bobbed tail breeds (e.g., Japanese Bobtail and Manx). It resulted in there being no Manx gene, no other direct bobtail relation to the Toybob. The conclusion was that we are dealing with an entire new bobtail mutation. Toybob overall health is rather robust due to the harsh environment from where the breed originated. Also, the continued use of native Russian Domestic cats in the breed development maintains great genetic diversity and good health. The breed has no known health or genetic problems and is known to be long-lived even well past 15 years. Although a small cat, the Toybob might surprise some as it carries nice sturdy weight to it for its overall small body. Toybobs are bred in both shorthair and longhair (semi) varieties in a wide range of colors, although pointed colors (particularly seal-point) are the most common. Today, Toybob breeders continue Natalia Fedyaeva’s vision in the preservation of the original phenotype first discovered in the first Toybob cats and the Ural region street cats.
Note: There is an ultra-typed variety of the breed sometimes written up as Toy Bob (two words) or hyphenated Toy-Bob. However, no genetic testing has been performed or gene pool diversification on these cats.