The Lucky Cat, famously known as Maneki Neko in Japan, is commonly depicted as a porcelain waving cat or beckoning cat. However, it is not well-known to everyone that this symbolic feline of good luck and fortune is an inspiration from the sweet-natured Japanese Bobtail cat.
Origins of the Lucky Cat
Japanese Bobtail cats are one of the most ancient “natural breeds” in the world. They are known for their unique distinguishing feature which is their tails. Their tails are shorter than a rabbit.
It is in “bob” shape that looks like a pompom with numerous kinks, twists, and curves. Just like its unique stubby tail, the Japanese Bobtail cat’s history is also one-of-a-kind.
Once Upon a Time
Another little-known fact about these lucky cats is that they did not originate from Japan, despite being named after it. Japanese Bobtail cats are believed to have come from North Korea or China’s merchant ships who trade goods with various nations like Japan.
During that era, they only allow temples and the royal family to keep cats. Felines were not only kept as pets, but they also serve another important purpose for their owners—they were responsible for protecting valuable materials such as books and manuscripts owned by Buddhist monks against rodents.
The practise continued to thrive until the seventeenth century. Back in 1602, a severe rat infestation wreaked havoc on the nation’s agriculture, most especially on the silk industry. During that period, it was the strongest pillar of Japan’s finance. Therefore, without any countermeasures, the economy would have collapsed.
Luckily, Japanese Bobtail cats were there to stop the vermin infestation. The Japanese government issued an order that people must set their cats loose on the streets so that they can catch rats and reduce their numbers. The scheme turned out to be a success and the Japanese silk industry was back in no time.
Sadly, after the whole crisis was averted, most of the pet cats, which were set loose, became strays. To make matters worse, they have lost their significant role in society after the vermin infestation was exterminated.
Since these former house pets were forced to live in the streets, they had to adapt to the new environment. Their bodies became bigger and heavier as a result. After the whole fiasco, Japanese Bobtail cats became the most common street cats in Japan.
A Trip to the New World
In 1968, the first Japanese Bobtail cats first made an appearance in North America. Judy Crawford imported three of these cats and sent them to Elizabeth Ferret. When Crawford returned to the US, she brought more Japanese Bobtail cats with her.
Lynn Beck also started to introduce Japanese Bobtail cats and even built the first-ever cat house in the US that centres on Bobtail cats. Later on, they were able to open a Japanese Bobtail cat breeding program in North Carolina.
These efforts were made in the hopes to restore the original physical appearance of Japanese Bobtail cats that existed from the sixteenth up to the seventeenth century.
After a year, the Cat Fancier’s Association (CFA) finally acknowledged Japanese Bobtail cats as an independent breed. The CFA started to accept registrations for this cat breed. The Japanese Bobtail cats were granted the provisional status of the CFA in 1971. Five years later, they received the Championship Status.
One more problem arises when the CFA changed the standards for the Japanese Bobtail cat to distinguish it properly from the Kurilian Bobtail cat. The new criteria require Japanese Bobtail cats to have a porcelain-like coat and a slender and slimmer body. However, it became a problem for these felines since they have larger bones and sturdier bodies.
Due to the standard change, it has prompted numerous Japanese Bobtail cats to lose in CFA championships because they were not able to meet the criteria. Most of these cats had bulky bodies with multiple fur colours.
Some breeders were happy to accept the standards because they want to breed elegant and delicate-looking Japanese Bobtail cats like what we usually see today.
In modern times, the Japanese Bobtail cats are slowly becoming recognised by more and more cat enthusiasts. They became strong contenders in cat competitions in North America since their physical attributes are an excellent advantage.
What kind of personality does a Japanese Bobtail have?
After all the adventures the ancestors of Japanese Bobtail cats have gone through, they have evolved into a more loveable furry companion. Many people are smitten not only because they are one of the cutest cat breeds, but also because of the colourful personality this lucky-kitty has.
Affectionate and Sociable Felines
Japanese Bobtail cats love human companionship. They like to interact with people and want to be the centre of attraction. Japanese Bobtail cats also tend to stick close to their special person. From simply lounging on the sofa to greeting relatives, who are visiting for the holidays, you bet these affectionate felines would accompany you everywhere you go.
Unlike other cat breeds, Japanese Bobtail cats are a rare type of felines that need socialisation. They need companionship from their trusty human friend or another furry buddy, preferably a Japanese Bobtail cat too.
Aside from being sweet and affectionate felines, Japanese Bobtail cats are also brilliant pets that easily learn a trick or two. They are active and appreciate quality playtime with their human friends. In fact, if they feel like playing, they might invite you by pushing a toy in your direction.
Truly Cats of Luck
With their bubbly personality and beautiful appearance, Japanese Bobtail cats are ideal furry companions that would share good years of warm friendship with you. Doesn’t that make you a totally lucky person?