Japanese bobtails are called bobtails for a good reason — they have bobbed tails! The tail, which can be curved or kinked, look more like a pompom or a bunny tail than a standard cat tail. Bobtails shouldn’t be confused with the Manx, which is a naturally tailless cat. The Japanese bobtail’s trademark tail is created by a recessive gene. So, mate a bobtail with another bobtail – and voila! you have more bobtails with their distinctive tails.
Just as an aside, my late cat Saki, although an ordinary black cat, had a kinked, truncated tail. Her tail was longer than that of Japanese bobtails, which aren’t supposed to be more than 2 or 3 inches in length. Everyone who met her for the first time would ask me if she lost part of her tail in an accident. Maybe I accidentally slammed a door on her tail? (Yikes!) One friend kept calling her an "atomic cat" -- he insists that her tail genes were deranged by an atomic blast!
Okay, back to bobtails -- these cats can have either rigid or flexible tails. Saki’s tail was quite flexible – and she’d often wriggle the tail tip, which was bifurcated.
No doubt about it, her tail was one of the most distinctive traits about her. That, and her vocalization.
In that respect, she was like a Siamese. My Japanese friends tell me that all black cats have Siamese blood somewhere in their ancestry. It’s said that early Siamese cats had kinked, full-length tails, so maybe there is something to the theory. Saki certainly sounded Siamese – very different than the melodious voice of a Japanese bobtail. She also behaved like a Siamese, with her high activity level and her penchant for climbing. But that’s another story for another time.
As to temperament, Japanese bobtails are supposed to be affectionate, amiable, alert, playful, spirited and energetic.(Actually, this sounds very much like Saki, except for the amiable bit.) They’ll run to the door to greet you when you come home. They’re intelligent and good with children. (Frankly, if they were really intelligent, they'd simply avoid children.)
Japanese bobtails are believed to have been introduced to Japan from China in the 6th century. (Just like everything else, I guess.) They were first imported to the United States in 1968.