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Norwich Bulletin - 4/22/2007

Introducing the Kurilian Bobtail

The Kurilian Bobtail is a natural occurring breed, which 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 twentieth century.

This breed is not well known outside of 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 to be a very rare breed. The Kurilian Bobtail tends to have only one litter a year out in the wild and averages 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 toted an exceptional rat hunter. The Kunashir natives report that they have seen the cats catch ten pound fish and they have seen bears run away from the cat (which might be stretching the truth just a little). But there is no doubt that the Kurilian Bobtail is a hunter and a survivor.

There are those that feel that the Kurilian Bobcat is just a Japanese Bobtail of a heavier type. But the proponents of the breed maintain that the major difference between the two breeds is that the stockier Kurilian are wild cats with a wild origin and the elegant Japanese Bobtail is a man made breed.

The main characteristic of the breed is, of course, the tail. There is no accompanying illnesses that have come about genetically because of the tail and the length can vary from very short to almost normal length. Breedings are only Kurilian to Kurilian (long or short haired variety) and there is no outcrossing permitted. There are enough cats on the Kuril Islands to support the development of the breed without out-crossing as it is always possible to bring a new animal into a breeding program.

The first true breeders who established the standard, were Lilia Ivanova and Tatiana Botcharova. These two woman were not partners, but rather competitors. Ivanova had a small selection of animals and had strong inbreeding in her cattery. This breeding program has been lost as the constant inbreeding caused a loss of vitality in her animals.

However, there are offspring from Kunashir cattery which has become the foundation for many catteries that exist in Russian today. She had only longhairs. Tatiana, 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 set it. Many kittens became sick and died in their new homes.

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 a city apartment.

Your Kurilian might enjoy playing in the bathtub with a dripping tap, or better yet, join you in the bathtub, if you are up to it. And their hunting prowess continues even in an apartment as it rids your home of pesky flies!

This breed is truly doglike in that it has a gregarious and accepting 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 a laptop, 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 very quiet and rather than loud meows they tend to trill.

This is a wonderful family pet and Helping Paws is excited that they will be introducing the cats at its April 28th and 29th TICA cat show in Ansonia, Connecticut. Yes, the Kurilian Bobtail will make its debut at this fundraiser.

The show will be open to the public from 9 am to 4 pm on both days and the entry fee is $6 for adults and $4 for seniors and children under twelve. To find out more about the show please visit www.tica.org and click onto show schedule. You can also see some great pictures of these cats at www.usa-pride.us or www.kurilian.info/content/breed/characteristics.htm or better yet, come and see them for yourselves!

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