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(by Svetlana Ponomareva)

What follows is an overview. About the Kurilian Bobtail I can speak with some authority. For me it is a favourite breed, on a level with my love for only the American Curl and maine-coon.

KBS (kurilian bobtail shorthair) KBL (Kuriilian Bobtail Longhair)

1. History of the Kurilian Bobtail:

This is a natural breed, which existed in isolation for a long period (at least 100-150 years) on a chain of islands collectively known as the Kurils, which belong to Russia and Japan. In Russia there are several documents referring to cats with a short tail, which were brought home from the islands by the members of the military or scientists in the middle of the 20th century. The character of these cats made them very popular even without being promoted as a pedigreed cat. Many people brought these cats home from the islands, but historically in Russia there were no cat clubs and therefore no breed standards to guide those who raised them.

At the first cat fancy exhibitions of the Kurilian Bobtail (1990) many foreign experts were concerned that these Russian cats with a short tail were just a Japanese Bobtail of a heavier type. Even today, it cannot be said that the Kurilian Bobtail and the Japanese Bobtail have an entirely different genetics. In fact, it is probable that the Kurilian bobtail was the original source of mutation for the short tail in the Japanese. Yet, the difference is that the Japanese Bobtail is a created breed with a similar tail. Russia has not enough Japanese Bobtail for the realization of research into a comparison of the genetic makeup of these breeds. However, the Kurilian are cats of the wild type with a wild origin. Russian Breeders have kept this distinction in the Kurilian, while the Americans have created the elegant Japanese Bobtail.

In contrast, the genetics of the Manx is entirely different from the genetics of the Kurilian. The bobtailed gene has absolutely no harmful consequences such as the Manx gene does and it has allowed these cats to exist in their natural environment and interbreed without intervention from man for centuries.

The Karelian Bobtail (though the name is similar) is also a separate mutation from either the Manx or the Kurilian. The Karelian Bobtail originated in the region of St. Petersburg, in the western regions of Russia. It has a recessive tail gene while the Kurilian Bobtail gene is dominant. In addition, if compared to other breeds, the features of the Karelian are more like the Norwegian Forest Cat while the Kurilian is closer in appearance to the Siberian population from the Far East.

2. Genetics and Breeding:

As I already said, the mutation for the short tail of the Kurilian Bobtail has no accompanying illnesses that have come about to date. It is pleasant and dominant with an incomplete display. To further explain, when bred to the common domestic cat one (with a normal length of tail) all kittens will have the short or kinked tail. Length of the tail varies from very short up to almost normal length with several turns and fusing of the joints. The short tail is not generated by one gene and is very complex, but the length of a tail is stable in breeding.

For Kurilian Bobtail there is no outcrossing to other breeds, only Kurilian SH to Kurilian LH is permitted. The existing population on the Kuril Islands is numerous enough to support the development of the breed without out-crossing as it is always possible to bring a new animal intoa breeding program.

3. Breeders.

The first breeders, those who established a standard for this new breed, were Lilia Ivanova and Tatiana Botcharova. Unfortunately, rather than acting together, as partners, they were competitors.

Ivanova (Kunashir Cattery) had a small selection of animals and developed strong inbreeding. Her breeding program has now expired in connection with the resulting loss of vitality in her breedlines. Yet the offspring from Kunashir cattery were to become the foundation for many catteries existing in Russia today. Cats of Kunashir Cattery have an average size (weight of 4-5 kgs) and they are only longhair. The body appears small because the head is very wide, their body is short and they tend to have a curved back.

Tatiana Botcharova (Renessance Cattery) had a larger initial cattery, about 40 animals, and all of those animals were brought from the islands. These were mostly shorthair and her cats had a more flexible skeleton and longer body. She has love of van pattern and delute color. Her cattery was active in breeding for a period of 7-8 years. Then her house became completely overrun by her cats. Therefore, each of the animals had less care and serious illnesses began to sert in. Her cattery lost the trust of the public because so many kittens were sick and died in their new homes. Now she has reduced her cattery to 7 male and 9 female and begins to work with new lines. But she is old now, and it is yet to be seen whether Kunashir cattery can compete with new breeders.

Today the Kurilian Bobtail has 3rd or 4th place in a breed popularity rating in Russia (WCF). Therefore, Russia has a lot of young catteries for the Kurilian. My cattery, Alexander-Fred (WCF) has been breeding Kurilian since 1997. It is not a long period, but today I have animals with high titles - 4 World Champion, 9 European Champion, 19 Grands. Tigris Alexander-Fred (Brown Mackral Tabby male) acheived the rank Best cat 1997 in Germany (WCF). In 2000-2001, Vasiliy Alexander-Fred (Black Silver Tabby male) was ranked 6 Best Cat from ten best animals in Russia (WCF Master Ring). I have two partners in my Kurilian breeding program: Julia Utkina and Larisa Shevchenko. Together, we have cats from 7 breedlines and foundation cats. The breeding focus of Alexander-Fred Cattery has two directions: Silver Tabby and Bi-color in both shorthair and longhair cats.

I am the president of a WCF Cat Club called Alisa-Best in Moscow, Russia. Today my club has registered more than 90 Kurilian cats. The largest of the catteries in my club are Eridan-Cat, Kroshka Flack, Z Lebiajiego Ozera, and Kubry. In Moscow there are between 12-15 catteries working with this breed, while in Russia there are 40-70. Most of the best known catteries are in the cities of Moscow, Saratov, Astrahanj, Volgograd, Habarovsk, and Ufa. As for other countries, there is 1 cattery in Germany, 1 in Litva, 1 in Canada, and 1 male cat in the USA. The Kurilian Bobtail has won so many hearts that I am certain over the next 5-10 years the number of catteries will be increased strongly.

4. Registration:

In WCF Kurilian Bobtail was officially recognized in 1995. In 2001 we have prepared corrections to the working standard. You can read the changed standard. The first version did not describe exact parameters. I have the plan to present the Kurilian Bobtail in FIFE in 2002, october. (In 2000 I was one of several breeders who successfully represented in FIFE my love - American Curl.) However, for approval it is necessary to have 5 generation pedigree and that is not yet possible among Kurilians. In 1-2 years I can present 3-4 breedlines with a pedigree of 5 generations. Today we have just 3-4 generations. Application to CFA is also a plan for the future. I have hopes that for the Canadian breeder - Sharon Berg (FogForest cattery) it will be more simple. In Russia, each year there are no more than 3 shows for either CFA or TICA. We hope to establish a team of 4-5 carefully chosen catteries on the American continent, so we can represent Kurilian Bobtail more frequently in other exhibition systems.

5. Appearance and character:

The appearance is described in the standard. From my experience Kurilian Bobtail are strong cats, with a wild appearance, large and brawny. They have excellent health and a very well-balanced character. They love to be caressed and are very gentle. In the wild this cat runs in packs, similar to the wolves. It is also highly intelligent. I have many animals, which have arrived from the wild environment. Their character has no distinctions to set them apart from those raised in my cattery and domesticated for 3-4 generations! When my kittens were shipped to Canada and America they had no extremes of nerves and shock (though it is a 2-day trip). For them it there was a pleasant game. Sharon Berg has bred the Pixie-Bob, but asserts that while these two bobtail breeds are both very sociable and gentle the Kurilians are far more adaptable and trusting in their nature.