Heard of the Kurilian Bobtail? No? Then you’re not alone. Despite having been around for at least 200 years, Kurilian Bobtails are by no means a household name – or at least, they’re not in the US. In parts of Russia and Europe, they’re becoming ever more common. In North America, on the other hand, they’re about as rare as hen’s teeth. But that might change once people start to learn more about this friendly little breed. With their social, amicable natures, easy-going personalities, and ability to adapt to just about any kind of environment they find themselves in, they make great family pets (although you might want to thnk twice about bringing one home if your own a hamster – they may look like butter wouldn’t melt, but make no mistake, Kurilian Bobtails are hunters of the first order). Find out more with these 20 little facts.
1. They’re native to the Kuril Islands
The Kurilian Bobtail can trace its origins to the Kuril Islands, a volcanic archipelago stretching between Hokkaido, Japan, and Kamchatka, Russia. Unlike some of the designer breeds around today, the Kurilian Bobtail developed naturally, gradually winning the local human population around thanks to its excellent hunting skills. Due to the relatively remote location of the Kuril Islands (and, as cattime.com notes, their small litter sizes), it took some time for the wider world to catch on to the Kurilian’s appeal. In the last couple of years, though, they’ve started to become better known to cat lovers across the world.
2. They won official recognition in 2012
They may have been around for several hundred years, but it’s taken the Kurilian Bobtail quite some time to earn official recognition. But now their popularity has started to rise, so has their status. Both the Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFe) and the International Cat Association (TICA) has extended them recognition as an “Advanced New Breed”, although neither has deemed them eligible for championship status. The World Cat Federation (WCF), meanwhile, has recognized them as a single breed. It’s not all good news, though: the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) still doesn’t recognize the breed at all.
3. They’re natural-born killers
When they first began to become popular on the Kuril Islands, it was for their legendary hunting skills that they became most loved. If a house had a mouse problem before a visit from a Kurilian, it sure as heck wouldn’t by the time it left. All these years later, and those hunting instincts are still very much in force. Bring a Kurilian home, and any rodent in the neighborhood had better watch out
4. They’re slow growers
Like other natural breeds such as the Maine Coon, the Kurilian Bobtail is a slow grower. While most breeds reach maturity by about 2 years old, this unusual breed carries right on growing all the way up until around 5 years old.
5. Their tail is their most unusual feature
The Kurilian Bobtail is a unique looking cat, at least as far as its tail goes. As the breed’s most distinctive feature, a Kurilian Bobtail’s tail has between 2 – 10 vertebrae that twist and kink in opposing directions. As vetstreet.com notes, the end result is a tail that looks something similar to a whisk or spiral… or, as others have suggested, a fluffy pompom.
6. They make great family pets
If you’re looking for a cat that will fit easily into just about any situation you throw its way, you’ll find it hard to beat the Kurilian Bobtail. These friendly little creatures get on exceptionally well with, well, just about anyone and anything. Whether your house is filled with cats, dogs, kids, or seniors, a Kurilian Bobtail will adapt quickly and easily, worming their way into the heart of anyone who spends just a little time with them.
7. They’re no friend to the family hamster
While Kurilian Bobtails are great with other cats and dogs, their instinctive hunting drive makes them a potential threat to anything small, furry, and scuttling. If you keep ferrets, hamsters, rats, mice, or even rabbits, be very wary of allowing your Kurilian to hang out with them… one of them is going to come out of the experience a lot worse for wear than they went into it. They’re also no friend to birds, and can even be a hazard to fish (and no, they won’t see the four walls and cover of an aquarium as much of an obstacle). If something moves, you can bet your bottom dollar the Kurilian Bobtail will want a piece of it.
8. They love playing in the water
If you’ve ever tried to give one a bath, you’ll know how much cats hate water. Or at least, how much MOST cats hate water. But the Kurilian Bobtail isn’t like other cats. The breed developed on an island, and apparently, their heritage has lived on in their love for all things water-related (not to mention in their waterproof coats). If you’ve got a fish pond in your garden, you might want to put some protective netting over it… otherwise, your cat will be having an awful lot of fun at your koi’s expense.
9. Their litters are tiny
Depending on the breed, cats can sometimes have up to 10 kittens per litter. The Kurilian Bobtail, on the other hand, does things on a much smaller scale. If you have a Kurilian Bobtail that you’re hoping to breed, don’t expect your home to be full of cute kittens at the end of it. Most Kurilians will have between 2 and 3 kittens maximum per litter – something that goes a long way to explaining why they’re so rare.
10. No two Kurilians tails are alike
Thought every tail was much of a muchness? Then think again. According to petguide.com, each Kurilian Bobtail has a unique tail structure, as individual to them as our fingerprints are to us. If you ever see two Kurilians with the exact same tail, it’s probably your eyes playing tricks on you.
11. They’ve got no connection to the Karelian Bobtail
Looking at the names alone, you’d have thought the Kurilian Bobtail and the Karelian Bobtail were related… after all, there’s only a couple of letters difference between the two. In fact, the two breeds have no near ancestors in common; little surprise, really, considering that they evolved on completely different sides of the continent. The Kurilian is, however, believed to be closely related to the Japanese Bobtail, a slightly leaner, more elegant breed that shares the same kinked tail as the Kurilian.
12. They can weigh up to 15 lbs
The Kurilian Bobtail is no delicate, slender little thing. With their compact, cobby bodies and masses of lean muscle, they’re a strong, solid breed that’s nothing if not robust. Males can grow anything up to 15 pounds, while females, who, as with most species, tend to be a little smaller, can weight up to around 13 lbs. Height wise, expect your little kitten to grow to around 9-12 inches at the shoulders.
13. They can be almost any color
Kurilian Bobtail’s come in a wide variety of colors and an even bigger variety of patterns. Red, gray, and bobcat stripes are some of the most common cat types, while silver highlights, solid, and tabby are also typical.
14. They have no known heredity conditions
If you’re welcoming a new pet into your home, it always pays to do your research first. Some cats come with certain heredity conditions that can spell big problems down the line. The Kurilian Bobtail, you’ll be pleased to know, is a remarkably robust little cat, with no known inherited health problems. That doesn’t mean you get to ignore or take their good health for granted, of course: cats can be sneaky when it comes to pain and illness and will try to keep any symptoms to themselves for as long as possible. Regular checkups are recommended to nip any little problems in the bud, while regular de-worming and flea treatments should be considered par for the course. It also stands to reason that they’ll need to have received their full set of vaccinations before they leave the breeder.
15. They go by more than one name
Why have one name when you could have two? Or even three? Depending on the country (and to an extent, the person doing the talking), Kurilian Bobtails go by one of several names, including the Kuril Bobtail and the Curilsk Bobtail.
16. They’re low maintenance
The double- coat of a Kurilian Bobtail is luxuriously soft, with a length that varies between short and medium. Although it’s incredibly thick, it requires a lot less by way of grooming than you’d think. A weekly once over with a brush should be more than enough to keep it sleek and matt-free.
17. They’re rare to non-existent in the US
If you live in the US and fancy making a Kurilian Bobtail your next pet, you’re going to have your work cut out finding one. Although in recent years they’ve started to move beyond the Kuril archipelago, they’re still rare outside of Russia and Europe. According to vetstreet.com, their population in North America is about 100 – although their numbers are likely to increase as they become better known, their small litter sizes mean it might take some time before they achieve household-name status. If you’re determined to find one, you’ll either need to contact the select few breeders that offer kittens (although as always when buying from a breeder, be sure to check their credentials and references beforehand), or put out some feelers to shelters and rescue groups.
18. They love a scratching post
Kurilian Bobtails have an incredible hunting drive. Like all cats that are used to stalking, hunting, and ultimately, defeating their prey, they have strong hind legs, explosive energy, and a passion for chasing anything that moves. Keep them happy by providing lots of games and fun that tap into their base instincts. A feather dangler can give them hours of entertainment, as can a game of catch (and thanks to their high intelligence, they can even be trained to retrieve the ball). A cat scratcher, meanwhile, will divert some of their attention away from the table’s legs, promote healthy scratching, and keep their claws in tip-top shape all at the same time.
19. They can live for up to 20 years
With no known genetic conditions to worry about, a robust, strong constitution, and a healthy outlook, the Kurilian Bobtail has, as you’d expect, a long life span. Obviously, taking them to the vets for regular check-ups, feeding them a complete, balanced diet, and making sure they get lots of the right kind of exercise all help, but providing the conditions are right, you can expect them to live anything between 15 and 20 years on average. Like all breeds, indoor cats tend to live longer than ones that are allowed to roam the streets, so keep yours inside if you want to give them the best chance of living out their full life span.
20. They’re super intelligent
If you thought the only pets that could be trained were dogs, you’ve clearly never had the pleasure of meeting a Kurilian Bobtail. As catster.com notes, these highly intelligent little animals are easy to train and rarely need to be told twice what kind of behaviors are and aren’t allowed (although they can be mischievous, so they might occasionally push the boundaries between the two in any case… but make no mistake, they know exactly what they’re doing, and why).