Kurilian Bobtail cat breed: for centuries it lived on a remote island waiting to be discovered

László Enikő

2023. February 3 - Source: Photos by Getty Images Hungary

The Kurilian Bobtail is a Russian cat breed best known for its pompom-like tail. The breed evolved naturally on the remote islands of the Russian Kamchatka Peninsula and was discovered by Russian and European sailors, soldiers and scientists. Nowadays, these relatively rare cats are charmingly affectionate and easy pets for families.


Besides his short tail, he is also known for being a very affectionate and gentle pet. He loves to be part of his family’s everyday life, he is playful and really easy to handle. He usually finds common ground with everyone quickly and quickly seduces everyone with his charm.


The breed originated in the Kuril Islands between Russia and Japan, where it lived in isolation for many years until it was discovered. No one knows exactly when this cat was born, but it’s at least 200 years old. Being a great hunter, he was able to survive for so long on his own without human help. They became known outside the islands when Russian soldiers and scientists took them with them in the 1950s. Russian cat lovers became interested in these special cats and started breeding them. Lilia Ivanova and Tatyana Bocharova (Renaissance Breeding) were the first to breed the this cat in Russia. Later on, more people joined them. Bocharova regularly imported cats from the islands to avoid inbreeding. The breed became very popular in the country, and many people still keep them there today. However, the breed is little known in other countries of the world. About 100 of these cats live in North America, in Europe they are slightly more numerous, but here too they are considered rare.

The W.C.F. (World Cat Federation) officially recognised the Kurilian Bobtail in 1995. Since 2002, it has been exhibited worldwide. Kurilian Bobtail got full championship status in 2012.from TICA.

This independent breed even likes to walk on a leash!

Breed standard

A Kurilian Bobtail is a medium to large cat breed. It has a well-muscled, powerful body, compact and short, with a short, pompom-shaped tail. The head is large, trapezoidal with rounded contours. The front is broad and well developed. Nose straight, medium long, without a pronounced stop. The feet are medium-sized, slightly forward, broad at the base and rounded at the tips. They are located far apart from each other. His slightly slanted, round eyes are set slightly apart. They can be any colour from yellow to green. White specimens may also have blue eyes. It has a compact, muscular body with a solid bone structure. Fine curve on the reverse. Its limbs are of medium length, strong and robust. Paws are rounded. The length of the pompom-shaped tail is 3-8 cm (without hair). Its size and shape harmonise with the cat’s appearance. The fur is dense, with a fairly fine texture. The coat can be short or half long. All colourways are available, except chocolate, cinnamon, fawn, purple colourpoints and the same in combination with white. Expected lifetime 15-20 years.


Because this breed lived in the wild for a long time, this cat is particularly fond of water, having caught fish centuries ago to feed itself. He is also, of course, an excellent hunter on land. Although he is very independent, but don’t think he doesn’t like to spend time with his owner! Extremely people-loving and sociable cat, who is friendly and kind to everyone. He actively seeks contact with anyone, whether two-legged or four-legged. It’s also important to know that he loves to play and have fun, and that he’s smart and curious. So, if he doesn’t get the attention and exercise he deserves, he’ll soon find himself some work to do, although not everyone will be happy. And at the end of the day, after all the playing and making friends, there’s only one thing he wants: to fall asleep next to his beloved owner.

Ideal environment

As he is very sociable, he finds it hard to be alone. But other pets can help, as it gets on well with both dogs and cats, but smaller pets should be wary of the big hunter! He likes to perch high up and, being a curious nature, to observe his kingdom from there. Therefore it is good to have several climbing platforms for him. It is important that the owner meets the mental and physical needs of this active and smart cat so that he can live a happy life. If you give him these, he’ll be a well-balanced, charming companion!

This breed is particularly fond of water!


The soft, silky coat of this breed can be short or semi-long and does not tangle easily. Brushing once a week to remove dead hairs and distribute the oils in the skin is enough to keep it clean and healthy. The fur sheds little and is waterproof. Claws must be trimmed if they do not wear at the right rate. The cleanliness of his eyes and ears should always be taken care of.

Common health problems

The Kurilian Bobtail is a very healthy breed of cat, with no breed-specific diseases. But typical cat problems can affect him too, so it’s important to see your vet at least once a year, and take the vaccinations he recommends.

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