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.

The 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.

The 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.

The 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."

Contact:

Henni Portwig
Cell : 0828227431
Pretoria
Email: tjelu@sa-breeders.co.za

 

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