The Characteristics of the Kurilian Bobtail
The Kurilian Bobtail is a newly recognized native breed of the Kuril islands, but it is surrounded by centuries of legend. The Kurilian Bobtail is said to be like a creature from tall tales, looking like a cat from the front but with the appearance of a rabbit from behind. It has long back legs, with the measure from the hock to the toes being especially long. It has a naturally bobbed tail measuring 5 to 13 cm long which is spiral kinked and usually sits like a rabbit’s puff on its hind end. This cat comes in a variety of colours and patterns including van, harlequin, bi-colour, patched, tortie, solid, smoke, cameo, silver and golden. In its native regions it is most popular when bicolor, tortie, patched tortie or calico.
In its natural, wild habitat, this cat is known to be both an excellent swimmer and fisherman and an exceptional rat hunter. It is said to be no problem for this cat to catch a 5 kg fish or a hare in the wild. People who live in Kunashir report that bear will run away from this cat! However, this breed is not well known out of its native territories and the western regions of Russia. It is still discovered in the wild on a chain of islands known as the Kurils, which run from the easternmost point of Russia to the tip of Japan’s Hokkaido Island. The population is small and it is considered a very rare breed of cat. Part of the reason for its rarity is that there are just 2 or 3 kittens in a litter and it breeds only once per year in the wild.
In its general appearance, the Kurilian is something like the Norwegian Forestcat, though its face has more resemblance to the Siberian. It is built square-ish with a muscular (though not bulky) body rather than having the slender oriental physique of the Japanese Bobtail. The legs are not long though the hind quarters are slightly raised. Its head is shaped more triangularly than the Siberian with low cheekbones and a straight, broad, middle-long nose. The eyes are slightly slanted and almond shaped, but it does not have oriental features. All colours and coat patterns are accepted with the exception of colorpoints, chocolate, cinnamon, fawn, lilac and the same combined with white. Japanese call the calico ‘Mi-ke’ and suggest that wherever a family has a calico cat they bring happiness, prosperity and good health to the home. The Mi-ke has become a popular colour and pattern for the Kurillian.
The Kurilian’s wild look is not reflected in the temperament of the breed. It is renowned for being both a clever and gentle clown. It has a great love for both human company and other species of pets, and it is perfectly happy living in an apartment in the city. In fact, the breed is smallish in the wild but it has developed onsiderably in size through being domesticated. The Kurillian’s skill as a fisherman may explain why the Kuril is an excellent swimmer who loves nothing better than to play in a bathtub with a dripping tap! In fact, many Kurilian would like to join their owners in the bath, if allowed. The breed has also adapted its rat hunting skills to the confines of apartment living, proving to be both a peaceful and gentle companion of humans who loves to the pursue flies.
There are many breeds that are said to be doglike, however, the Kurilian Bobtail is outstanding in its gregarious and accepting nature. They will run to the door to greet their owner coming home and will be just as accepting of friends and strangers who visit the home. The Kurilian Bobtail does not shy from strangers or changes in their environment. In fact, they are remarkably accepting of change. Now that several members of the breed have made the 2-day journey from Russia to North America it is certain that it is a breed characteristic to ‘go with the flow’ and accept a change not only in environment but in human companionship with ease. This does not detract from the expression of interest in human company, but the breed seems to have an incredible trust of humans and simply wants to be in human company. They like to play hard and are very self-entertaining, but they also enjoy long periods of quiet companionship. One trait noticed by North Americans is that while they are not a lap cat the breed loves to lay at the feet of their owner.
This is a breed that seems to understand everything its owner desires and is easy to train to respond to voice command alone. Kurilians are also remarkable among cat breeds for their ‘silent’ nature. like the Pixie-Bob, another natural short-tailed breed (native to North America), they tend to be non-vocal except for a few musical trills which sound more like bird song than cat calls. The breed is not destructive to furniture or the home, yet it is still a cat with a cat’s independant nature and a tendancy to do what it best desires. One more thing… unlike other breeds, the father of a litter spends as much time tending to the kittens as their mother does.
copyright 2005 Kurilian Bobtail Fanciery Association article by Sharon Berg, FogForest Bobtails.