Pet columnist Rene Knapp talks about the Kurilian bobtail cat.
The Kurilian bobtail is a naturally occurring breed that has existed in isolation for about 150 years on a chain of volcanic islands known as the Kuril Islands. In Russia, there are several documents that refer to these short-tailed cats, which were brought home from the islands by members of the military in the middle of the 20th century.
This breed is not well-known outside its native islands, which run from the easternmost point of Russia to the tip of Japan’s Hokkaido Island. The overall population of the cat is small, and it is considered a very rare breed. Kurilian bobtails tend to have only one litter a year in the wild and average two or three kittens in a litter.
In its natural, wild environment, this cat is an excellent swimmer and can catch fish, as well as being touted an exceptional rat hunter.
There are those who feel the Kurilian bobtail is just a Japanese bobtail of a heavier type. But proponents maintain the major difference between the breeds is the stockier Kurilian are wild cats with a wild origin and the elegant Japanese is a man-made breed.
The main characteristic of the breed is, of course, the tail, which can vary from very short to almost normal length.
Breedings are only Kurilian to Kurilian (long- or short-haired variety), and no outcrossing is permitted. There are enough cats on the Kuril Islands to support development of the breed without outcrossing, as it is always possible to bring a new cat into a breeding program.
The first true breeders who established the standard were Lilia Ivanova and Tatiana Botcharova. These two women were not partners but competitors.
Ivanova had a small selection of animals, with strong inbreeding. This program has been lost as the constant inbreeding caused a loss of vitality in her animals. However, offspring from Kunashir cattery have become the foundation for many catteries in Russian today. She had only longhairs.
Botcharova, on the other hand, had a larger initial cattery, and all the animals were brought from the islands. While she started out fine, after about eight years of breeding, the care of her cattery cats seemed to diminish and serious illnesses began to beset it.
The Kurilian bobtail are strong cats with a wild appearance, large and brawny. They are not refined as the Japanese bobtail are. Their overall health is excellent, and there are no known genetic problems with the breed so far.
The temperament of the cat is the total opposite of its wild look. They are gentle and clever. They love human companionship and get along with other pets. They can live in the country or in an apartment.
This breed is truly dog-like in that it has a gregarious nature. They will run to the door to greet their owner, and they are perfectly happy visiting with strangers. They adapt well to changes in environment, and rather than being lap animals, many will lay at the feet of their owner, a definite dog-like trait.
This cat is easy to train to respond to voice commands. They tend to be quiet, and rather than loud meows, they tend to trill.
This is a wonderful family pet, and Helping Paws introduced the cats in April at its TICA cat show in Ansonia. You can see some great pictures of these cats at www.usa-pride.us or www.kurilian.info/content/breed/characteristics.htm.
Contact Rene Knapp at firstname.lastname@example.org.