Cats have acquired a cultural significance in many parts of the world, and the Japanese Bobtail is still held to be very important through much of Asia. In Japan, the tricoloured form, described as Mi-Ke, is regarded as a symbol of good fortune. Stautettes of these good luck cats, known as Maneki-Neko, represent the cat with its paw raised, which is a sign of greeting, and are placed in a window where they will be visible to visitors.
- BREED DEVELOPED: 1950s
- COUNTRY: Japan
- TYPE: Longhair
- BODY SHAPE: Lean and muscular
- WEIGHS UP TO: 3 .6kg/8lb
- PLUS POINTS: Intelligent, inquisitive nature
- WATCH POINTS: Keen hunter
The precise origins of the Japanese Longhair Bobtail breed are apparently unrecorded, but cats with short tails have been popular in various parts of the Orient for some time. It is thought that such cats were originally taken to Japan to control plagues of rodents that were invading homes, which explains why they acquired a reputation for being household guardians. The breed was virtually unknown outside Japan until the end of the Second World War, when servicemen returning to the USA took some of these cats home with them.
The Longhaired Bobtail, as its name suggests, is the longhaired form of the Japanese Bobtail, and is less commonly seen than its short-coated counterpart. Its coat length is variable, ranging from medium to long, but grooming is straightforward in any case, thanks to the lack of a dense undercoat which precludes matting of its fur. Nor do these cats moult heavily.
The tail is much shorter than normal, extending no more than 7.5cm (3in) from the body. It is usually curved, and has been likened to a rabbit’s tail.
In terms of coloration, white fur should predominate in the case of the Mi-Ke, with coloured areas being present on the head. The same applies in the case of bicolours, such as black and white. Other variants, such as selfs and tabbies are much more rarely seen.
- Longhair Bobtails are very social by nature, and often appear to prefer living in groups.
- If a Longhair Bobtail mates with an ordinary cat, all the kittens will be short-coated and have full-length tails, although these characteristics may reemerge in future generations.
- It was not until 1954 that the Longhaired Japanese Bobtail was first seriously developed as a breed in its own right in Japan, although such cats were often seen in northern areas of Japan for centuries beforehand.