Shorthair Kurilian Bobtail
Kurilian Bobtail Walking
He looks wild, but he’s usually mild. The Kurilian Bobtail is a natural breed that was found on Russia’s Sakhalin island and Kuril archipelago. He is outgoing and active, with a naturally short tail and a coat that can be short or semi-long.The Kurilian Bobtail’s looks are deceiving. At first glance, he may look compact, but when you pick him up, you discover that he’s a solid bundle of muscle. The cats may not reach their full size until they are 5 years old. The Kurilian is sometimes said to resemble a lynx, with his bobtail and long hind legs.

Those long hind legs make this cat a superb jumper, and he’s renowned for his hunting skills. If you live with a Kurilian, any rodents (or possibly small pets) in the area are at risk.

They are also known for enjoying playing in water, not surprising given their island heritage and water-resistant coat. The Kurilian can snag a salmon in his homeland, so guard your koi or other fish carefully from him. Not surprisingly, he can adapt to many different climates and environments, from country to city.

This is a highly active cat, but that doesn’t mean he won’t sit still for a little petting. He’s usually trusting and friendly, traits that may make him a good companion. He may, however, choose a single person to be his favorite, leaving other family members out in the cold.

Quick Facts

  • The Kurilian Bobtail is a natural cat breed, meaning he developed on his own in a particular region, with little or no assistance from humans.
  • The Kurilian Bobtail comes in many solid colors, as well as tabby and tortoiseshell patterns, with or without white markings. Some have striking silver highlights.
  • This cat’s tail looks like a pompom waving behind him, and each tail has a unique appearance.

The History of the Kurilian Bobtail

These interesting cats have been known on the Russian island of Sakhalin and the Kuril archipelago for at least 200 years. The Kuril archipelago stretches all the way to the Japanese island of Hokkaido, so the cats may well have some relationship to the Japanese Bobtail back in the mists of time, but the two breeds now have different appearances.

The cats became known outside the islands when Russian military personnel and scientists brought them home. Russian cat lovers became interested and started breeding Kurilian Bobtails. These cats are currently better known in Europe than in North America, where their population is only about 100.

The cats have competed in shows internationally since 2002. In North America, the Kurilian Bobtail is recognized by the American Cat Fanciers Association, the Canadian Cat Association, the Cat Fanciers Federation and The International Cat Association.

Kurilian Bobtail Temperament and Personality

This is a smart, curious and independent cat, but don’t think that he won’t want to spend time with you. The Kurilian tends to be sociable and usually loves to play. His large size also belies his gentle temperament. He typically loves people and may be a good choice for families with children and some other pets, including dogs.

However, this breed is known for his hunting skills, so ferrets, hamsters (or other rodents), rabbits, and possibly even birds and fish in an aquarium may be in danger with a Kurilian in the house. If he is allowed outside, be aware that he may hunt and kill songbirds (assuming his hunting interests extend to birds).

When he’s not perched high, surveying his empire, the Kurilian Bobtail will probably enjoy sitting in a lap or sleeping in bed with you. Challenge his brain by teaching him tricks as well as communicating actions that you like (using his scratching post) and don’t like (jumping on the kitchen counter).

What You Need to Know About Kurilian Bobtail Health

All cats have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit diseases. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on kittens or who tells you that her kittens are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons.

Kurilian Bobtails are generally healthy. They don’t have any known genetic health problems, but because the breed is so rare, information on genetic diseases may be limited. It’s always smart to choose a breeder who provides a written health guarantee.

Remember that after you’ve taken a new kitten into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the more common health problems: obesity. Keeping a Kurilian Bobtail at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to protect his overall health.

The Basics of Kurilian Bobtail Grooming

This breed’s soft, silky coat can be short or semi-long and doesn’t tangle easily. A weekly brushing to remove dead hairs and distribute skin oils is all it needs to stay clean and healthy. The coat sheds little and is water resistant.

The only other grooming the Kurilian Bobtail requires is regular nail trimming and ear cleaning. Brush his teeth at home with a vet-approved pet toothpaste, and schedule veterinary dental cleanings as needed. Start brushing, nail trimming and teeth brushing early, so your cat is more likely to accept these activities.

Choosing a Kurilian Bobtail Breeder

You want your Kurilian Bobtail to be happy and healthy so you can enjoy your time with him. So do your homework before you bring him home. And you may have to travel far to do so, to breeders in Italy, Great Britain, Russia or other European countries. So far, only a few people breed the cats in North America.

Put at least as much effort into researching your kitten as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It may save you money and frustration in the long run.

A reputable breeder will abide by a code of ethics that prohibits sales to pet stores and wholesalers, and outlines the breeder’s responsibilities to their cats and to buyers. Choose a breeder who has performed the health certifications necessary to screen out genetic health problems to the extent that is possible, as well as one who raises kittens in her home. Kittens who are isolated can become fearful and skittish, and may be difficult to socialize later in life.

A lot of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not. Red flags include kittens always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any kitten and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.

Whether you’re planning to get your feline friend from a breeder, a pet store or another source, don’t forget the adage, “Let the buyer beware.” Disreputable breeders and unhealthy catteries can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100 percent guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick kitten, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals) and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization or other reliable source for healthy kittens.

Be patient. The Kurilian is a rare breed. You may have to wait for the right kitten to become available, especially if you want a particular color or pattern. Kittens may be placed between 7 and 12 weeks of age, although some breeders won’t release them to new homes until they are between 12 and 16 weeks of age. Breeders may also require you to pick up kittens in person rather than shipping them.

Before you buy a kitten, consider whether an adult Kurilian might be a better choice for your lifestyle. Kittens are loads of fun, but they’re also a lot of work and can be destructive until they reach a somewhat more sedate adulthood. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health. If you are interested in acquiring an adult cat instead of a kitten, ask breeders about purchasing a retired show or breeding cat, or if they know of an adult cat who needs a new home.

Adopting a Cat From a Kurilian Bobtail Rescue Group or Shelter

The Kurilian is not your everyday shelter cat, but sometimes a pedigreed cat ends up at a shelter or in a foster home after losing his home to an owner’s death, divorce or change in economic situation.

Here are some tips to help you find and adopt the right cat from a rescue group or shelter.

1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder and can have you searching for a Kurilian in your area in no time. can help you find animal rescue groups in your area.

Social media is another great way to find a cat. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.

2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with pet pros in your area about your desire for a Kurilian. That includes vets, cat sitters and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a cat, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.

3. Talk to Breed Rescues
Networking can help you find a cat that may be the perfect companion for your family. Most people who love Kurilians love all Kurilians. That’s why breed clubs may have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless cats. You can also search online for Kurilian rescues in your area. That said, because of the rarity of this breed, it’s unlikely that you will find one through these avenues.

4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a cat. These include:
  • What is his energy level?
  • How is he around other animals?
  • How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors and children?
  • What is his personality like?
  • What is his age?
  • Is he litterbox trained?
  • Has he ever bitten or scratched anyone?
  • Are there any known health issues?

Wherever you acquire your Kurilian Bobtail, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with pet lemon laws, be sure you and the person you get the cat from both understand your rights and recourses.

Kitten or adult, breeder purchase or rescue, take your Kurilian Bobtail to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems and will work with you to set up a preventive care schedule.