The Japanese Bobtail – A Rare Cat With the Tail of a Bunny Rabbit

The Japanese Bobtail is a rare car breed whose distinctive feature is the presence of a short, bunny-like tail, instead of the long, flexible tail of most other felines.

No one knows exactly when this unusual cat breed arrived in Japan, but it has been a part of Japanese culture for at least several hundred years, being frequently featured in traditional art and folklore. In the early 1600s, the breed played a major role in preserving Japan’s silkworm production, by taking on rodents, and by the next century, the bobtail was already the dominant cat breed being kept in Japan. No one knows whether it was because of its distinctive tail, which looked like it had been bent and broken, its friendly personality, or its talkative nature, but the Japanese Bobtail became extremely popular in the Japanese country and remains so today. However, it remains extremely rare outside the borders of Japan.

Photo: ようてい/Wikimedia Commons

The short, kinked tail of the Japanese Bobtail cat is the result of natural mutation caused by the expression of a dominant gene. This mutation causes a reduction in the number of tail vertebrae, as well as vertebral fusion, but is otherwise a complete tail, just like those of the long-tailed cats. To be considered a proper bobtail, a cat’s tail must be no longer than three inches.

The kinking of the bobtail’s tail causes the fur on the tail to spread, making it look a lot like the fluffy tail of a bunny rabbit, and in some cases, it may even appear plumed. The tail may be flexible or rigid, and carried in any which direction.


Apparently, the kinked tail isn’t only unique to the Japanese Bobtail breed, but to every individual cat, in the same way that fingerprints are supposed to be unique to us humans. They are composed of one or more curves, angles, or kinks, in various combinations, and no two tails are exactly the same.


Japanese Bobtails make sociable and agreeable pets, they love interacting with people, and will often vocalize when spoken to, more so than most other cat breeds. They love to play and tend to get along well with other pets. The only problem is that you’ll probably have a hard time finding one outside of Japan.

Even though Japanese Bobtail breeders now exist outside of Japan, this cat is still classified as relatively rare, and if available, can cost up to $1,600 per specimen to buy from a responsible breeder.

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