Monday, March 15, 2010 6:47 PM

Bobtail Cats


I don't think I mentioned that the cute little black kitten that J. and I saw at the Adopt-A-Pet day last week was a bobtail. While most cat lovers have heard of the Manx, I thought it a bit unusual to see such a cat at a shelter. I guessed it was one of those situations where a purebred cat, in this case a Manx or perhaps Japanese Bobtail, got "caught" by an admirer without the required provenance, producing a litter that the queen's owners could not sell. I don't know if this is the back story, but it sounds probable, anyway.

With my mind on bobtail cats (she was very cute) I looked at a couple of my cat books to refresh my memory about the particulars of these style cats. I thought I remembered that such cats have problems with their spinal columns, since having a long tail is normal for cats, and aids in balance. I know also that the Manx has slightly longer back legs than other cats, resulting in a kind of "bunny hop" run. Their origins? The Isle of Man, of course.

One of my reference books, The Ultimate Guide to Cats, by Candida Frith-Macdonald, mentioned the fact that the gene that causes the tail abnormality is also rather fickle, sometimes producing cats with longish tails (longies), bobtails (stumpies) or no tail at all (rumpies). According to this author, kittens who are unfortunate enough to inherit two copies of this gene are often born dead, if the embryos even make it that far. Often enough, cats who survive suffer back problems due to fused vertebrae and/or pelvic bones. Sometimes, the shortened backbone cause bladder, bowel and rear leg problems.

On the other hand, David Alterton's Cats describes the Manx as a "powerfully built cats that do not appear to suffer greatly from the lack of a tail" and are "longlived cats and show few signs of aging". Quite a bit of difference there! He does note, however, that breeding these cats is problematic, as the litters are small and sometimes the kittens suffer from a malformed anus. Both authors agree, though, that the Manx is an intelligent, gentle and affectionate breed of cat.

The Japanese Bobtail, luckily, does not seem to suffer from its shortened spinal column. It is considered a healthy breed, a bit smaller than the Manx, with a "pom-pom" tail that is fairly consistent among the members of this breed. They are also gentle and intelligent, but a bit more outgoing than the Manx, which tends to attach itself more to one person, much like a dog. My guess is that the little black kitten was probably part Bobtail, since she was so extroverted, and that she was adopted very soon after J. and I left!
Chat later!
Black Manx cat from "The Book of the Cat" by Frances Simpson.

3 Comments On "Bobtail Cats"

Holly Wise Says:
August 12, 2010 at 12:16 PM

I adore Bobtail Cats. They are incredibly smart and loyal. It was an American Bobtail that got me started breeding cats. I debated a long time since there are so many homeless cats out there. But I had such unique experiences with the bobtail breeds as pets, that I felt other people who loved cats should also have the opportunity to have one as a companion. I now raise Highland Lynx Bobtails and can't imagine life without them.

Anonymous Says:
November 28, 2010 at 8:32 PM

i have a black bobtail manx cat that is 9 years old and is getting gray hair!!!! he is so cute. His name is Stumpy because of his tail. He is still as playful as he was when he was younger!

Alyson Says:
December 6, 2010 at 4:39 PM

I have a cat which i think is a japanese bobtail could be a manx we adopted her from the SPCA 6 years ago and she is great, she sings intand of meowing and is really affectinate. I was hoping that someone may beable to help me with a question we recently noticed that she is having a hard time jumping up on things, more than usual she has always been a little on the aquard side, but its been espacially bad within the last month any ideals???

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Amanda
Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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