A ceramic cat with a raised paw beckons from the doorway and
the traditional Japanese symbol of good luck. They are modelled
after the famous and favoured bobtailed cats of Japan. Intelligent
… fun … affectionate … spirited … playful
… elegant … beautiful … exquisite …
all words one can call this unique breed. The Japanese Bobtail
is breed quite different for any other breed, also called the
good luck cat or beckoning cat - Maniki neko - and maybe one
of the oldest known cat breeds for mankind. From historical
record it seems that this domestic cat first arrived in Japan
from China or Korea for at least one thousand years ago.
This rare breed exists in Japan for many
centuries as it is depicted in ancient prints, scripts and paintings
from Japan, the romance of legend tells a different tale…
"Long ago one evening in the Imperial City, a cat curled
up to warm itself before a roaring fire. A spark jumped from
the hearth and set the poor creature's tail ablaze. Frightened.
The cat ran from the house and into the streets. Now unfortunately,
Oriental houses then were very much like Oriental houses now
- all wood with paper walls. The cat frantic to extinguish the
flames ran wildly from house to wall to garden gate. Everything
in its wake was set on afire. Soon the entire city was burning.
At dawn little remained but ashes. Upon being told of the circumstances
that stated the blaze, the Emperor was greatly upset. So that
a similar disaster could never occur again, he decreed that
cats' tails be cut off. And that is why so many oriental cats
have no tails."
The truth we can trace the Japanese Bobtail
back to 7th centaury Japan. It is believed that the first pair
was a gift from the Emperor of China to the Emperor of Japan
daughter. In her novel A Tale of Genji, written about one thousand
years ago, Lady Murasaki, governess and tutor to the Emperor,
gives us the first written record of cats in Japan. The walls
of the ancient Gotojuki temple in Tokyo are decorated with paintings
of various bobtailed cats.
early cats in Japan lived in luxury, enjoying the privileges
usually reserved for the ruling classes. They were loved and
petted by the Imperial family and the ladies of the court. The
Lady of Emperor Ichijo (r.986 - 1011) held her cats in such
high esteem, she ordered the officials of the Imperial Court
to honour them accordingly. The preferred colour was the calico
van cat and was known as the Mi-Ke (pronounced mee-kay, which
means three-fur cat), is considered a symbol of good fortune
and gave origin to the ceramic cat statues for the lifted paw
and pom-pom tail, also known as a Maneki Neko.
In the year 1602 these cats lost their
royal protection when the authorities decreed that all cats
should be conscripted into service in the pursuit of vermin
that were threatening the nation's silkworms and spin industries.
This decree meant that all cats had to be set free and furthermore,
that buying and selling of cats was forbidden and becoming street
and farm cats was their foundation for survival to be healthy
and full of vitality.
The first cats outside Japan arrived
in 1968 that became the foundation stock for the breed in America
and thirty years later two breeders of South Africa, Henni Portwig
(Tjelu Cattery) and Jill Masterton (Shadofax Cattery) starting
to plan to introduced this rare breed to this country and on
a chilly winters morning in 1999 they arrive all the way from
California USA. Charlene Brake (Nekosong Cattery, USA) generously
helped to establish this breed in South Africa.
essential Japanese Bobtail is an active cat, medium in size,
with a characteristic short pom-pom tail, who combines the reflexes
and intelligence of a breed which has survived by its wits for
centuries, with the elegance and grace so prized by the culture
in which it evolved. Bright colours, especially the Mi-Ke is
most preferred, but the Japanese Bobtail can come in any colour.
Many Japanese Bobtails with a lot of white are either blue-eyed
or odd-eyed, this is a flashy and popular color, and such kittens
are generally more expensive. Japanese Bobtails come in both
shorthaired and semi-longhaired varieties. The tail is naturally
short, and never cut or docked.
Japanese Bobtail temperament is strong-willed, active, and energetic,
but very affectionate to its family. They are stable, not high-strung,
and not easily intimidated. They love playing games, chase and
fetching object. You should not be surprised if they want to
sit on your shoulder while you walk in the garden. Bobtails
can tend to be cliquish among themselves and avoid other non-bobtail
cats. Bobtails being fearless, get along with dogs and loves
playing with them.
To summarise this breed:
"What Japanese Bobtails lacks in
tail it makes up for in personality."