Japanese Bobtail

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The Japanese Bobtail is a breed of cat with an unusual 'bobbed' tail more closely resembling the tail of a rabbit than that of an ordinary feline. The short tail is a cat body type genetic mutation caused by the expression of a recessive gene.[1] Thus, so long as both parents are bobtails, all kittens born to a litter will have bobtails as well.

The Japanese Bobtail is a small domestic cat native to Japan and Southeast Asia, though it is now found throughout the world. The breed has been known in Japan for centuries, and there are many stories, as well as pieces of ancient art, featuring it.

Japanese bobtails may have almost any color, but calicoes (三毛 mi-ke?, lit. "three fur"), are especially favoured by the Japanese. Much like any other breed, the colors may be arranged in any number of patterns, with van patterns and calico being common among purebred cats, though other colorations are also accepted.[2]

Contents

History

One theory of short-tailed cats in Japan indicates that they arrived from the Asian continent at least 1,000 years ago.[3] In 1602, Japanese authorities decreed that all cats should be set free to help deal with rodents threatening the silk-worms. Buying or selling cats was illegal, and from then on, bobtailed cats lived on farms and in the streets. Japanese Bobtails thus became the "street cats" of Japan.

The Japanese Bobtail is mentioned in Kaempfer's Japan. First published in London in 1701/02, it is the first book written by a Westerner about the flora, fauna, and landscape of Japan. Engelbert Kaempfer, a German doctor, wrote: "there is only one breed of cat that is kept. It has large patches of yellow, black and white fur; its short tail looks like it has been bent and broken. It has no mind to hunt for rats and mice but just wants to be carried and stroked by women."[citation needed]

The Maneki Neko ("beckoning cat"), a Japanese Bobtail seated with one paw raised, is considered a good-luck charm. A maneki-neko statue is often found in the front of stores or homes. The character Hello Kitty is likewise a Japanese Bobtail, and is a staple of contemporary kawaii (cute) culture. In 1968, the late Elizabeth Freret imported the first three Japanese Bobtails to the United States from Japan. Japanese Bobtails were accepted for Championship status in Cat Fanciers' Association in 1976. In 2001 the first registered litter of Japanese Bobtails was born in the UK under the Solstans prefix.

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