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Kurilian Bobtail Cat: Breed Info, Pictures, Temperament & Traits

Lorre Luther

By Lorre Luther

Kuril bobtail russian cat walking outdoor in the forest

Height: 9–12 inches
Weight: 11–15 pounds
Lifespan: 15–20 years
Colors: Tabby, tortoiseshell and all other traditional colors
Suitable for: Families who like to get out and about searching for a friendly pet
Temperament: Super friendly, energetic, trainable and active

Gorgeous and outgoing, Kurilian Bobtail cats will steal your heart. These personable kitties are native to a series of Russian and Japanese islands in the Sea of Okhotsk. They’re perfectly adapted to living in cold, harsh conditions, which explains their stunning, sensuous, thick coats. Interestingly, the Kurilian Bobtail is one of the few natural cat breeds that’s been accepted by the Cat Fanciers Association of America.

For those not quite up on their cat show terminology, a natural breed is one that develops characteristics in response to its environment. In other words, these kitties developed their unique looks without human intervention or breeding. The International Cat Association (TICA) recognized the breed in 2012.

Because these cats developed without humans selecting for traits, they often have a few wildish characteristics—most notably, they’re extremely active, love being outside, and enjoy a good hunt. Back home on their native islands, these cats are actually known and appreciated for their mousing chops.

Yet, at the same time, they adore people and being in the middle of the action, making them great choices for anyone looking to find a sociable, fun, loving four-footed companion. Read on to learn more about these wonderfully adaptable felines.

Kurilian Bobtail Kittens


The amount you’ll spend on one of these cats might actually be a pleasant surprise. You might have a bit of trouble finding a Kurilian Bobtail kitten in the United States because they’re extremely rare. Back in 2012, there were only 100 or so of the breed registered with the International Cat Association. They tend to be a bit more popular in Europe, however. If you’re determined to add one of these gorgeous cats to your family, make sure to work with a reputable breeder and ask questions. And remember, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask to see the breeder’s paperwork and records confirming the animal’s lineage.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Kurilian Bobtail Cat

1. Kurilian Bobtails Mature Late and Have Naturally Short Tails

These gorgeous kitties actually mature much later than other cats. Most cats reach maturity around 2 years of age, but these beautiful creatures don’t hit that milestone until they’re around 5! The distinctive bobbed tail you see on these creatures is a natural adaptation, and it’s not cropped or otherwise altered by human intervention or breeding. Most Kurilian Bobtail cats have a tail between ​​1½ and 5 inches long.

2. Kurilian Bobtails Really Love Water

Kurilian Bobtails love water! They’re known as outstanding fishers, and  it helps that their coats are water-resistant. Some have been known to sit on the side of the tub and dip a paw in every once in a while when their favorite human is taking a bath. Others will actually jump into ponds, lakes, and other bodies of water to catch a fish or two.

3. The Breed Is Rare

Kurilian Bobtails are not well known in the United States, but they’re reasonably popular in Russia, Japan, and Europe. The breed has been recognized by the World Cat Foundation (WCF), Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFe) and The International Cat Association. However, the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA), which holds the largest pedigree register in the world, doesn’t recognize the breed at all.

a kurilian bobtail cat in a forest
Image Credit: Natalia Fedosova, Shutterstock

Temperament & Intelligence of the Kurilian Bobtail

Kurilian Bobtails are extremely active and social. They love nothing more than hanging out with their people. They tend to be fine with all sorts of activities and enjoy napping and doing nothing as much as chasing down neighborhood squirrels. Because they’re super intelligent, you can train these kitties in almost no time.

Like all cats, Kurilian Bobtails do best with rewards-based training that acknowledges and encourages sought-after behavior. In spite of their serious hunting prowess, these cats don’t typically exhibit aggression towards people, making them great choices for families with children.

Are These Cats Good for Families? 👪

Absolutely, Kurilian Bobtails are fantastic family pets. Not only are they non-aggressive towards children, but these cats also enjoy interacting with humans. Because they have tons of energy, they don’t tire of attention terribly quickly, and they don’t get frustrated with normal kid behavior. Add to that the fact that they’re fine with being left alone during the day, and you’ve got the perfect family cat.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

Kurilian Bobtails get along well with most pets, specifically similarly sized or larger cats and dogs. As a natural breed, they still have many of the instincts they developed in the “wild,” including the love of a good hunt! While another cat or dog may be safe living in the same household with one of these kitties, rabbits, mice, birds, and other small mammals probably won’t fare so well.

Keep in mind that Kurilian bobtails are extremely smart animals, so there’s a good chance that any schemes you cook up to keep your cat away from your bird aren’t going to be effective for very long. And yes, these kitties have been known to snack on aquarium fish.

Things to Know When Owning a Kurilian Bobtail:

Are you already in love and making plans to go out and buy a Kurilian bobtail cat? If so, then you might want to know a bit more about your future companion’s needs, including what they like to eat and how to keep them nice and healthy.

Food & Diet Requirements

Kurilian bobtails are low-maintenance when it comes to their food and dietary requirements! They’re pretty much fine eating any high-quality cat food. Adult cats need at least 240 grams of protein per kilogram of weight to remain healthy. Look for cat food with natural protein such as duck, chicken, or salmon in first place on the ingredients list.

You might want to consider feeding your Kurilian bobtail a diet specifically created to meet the needs of highly active cats. These formulations are usually packed with protein, made with high-quality ingredients, and often include tons of health-boosting vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Unlike many other cat breeds, Kurilian bobtail cats, even neutered and spayed animals, aren’t prone to becoming overweight.

Exercise 🐈

Kurilian bobtails are active kitties, so be prepared to spend extra time thinking up ways to keep your companion busy. Because these cats are so intelligent and active, they need much more exercise than most cats to stay mentally and physically happy.

Make sure to provide them with plenty of toys for sufficient mental stimulation. Consider taking your Kurilian Bobtail for leashed walks to keep them healthy and happy. It’s a great way to bond with your companion, and you’ll be treating your kitty to two of their favorite activities at the same time— being active and hanging out with you.

Two Kurilian Bobtail cats on a cat tower
Image By: TalyaPhoto, Shutterstock

Training 🧶

Kurilian bobtails are easily trainable, and some might even go so far as to say these super-intelligent kitties enjoy it. And best of all, they learn quickly. Some owners report that their cats only need to be told one time to stop unwanted behavior! Training a pet is a great way for kids to interact with their companion in a fun way that will increase the human-animal bond.  All cats do better with positive reinforcement instead of punishment, both when it comes to training and discouraging unwanted behaviors. To get the most out of training sessions with your Kurilian Bobtail, make sure to have tons of treats on hand and work on learning one trick at a time.

Grooming ✂️

Kurilian Bobtails don’t have any specific grooming needs. You’ll find cats in the breed with semi-long hair and others with relatively short fur. Cats with longer fur often benefit from being brushed regularly, and there’s a good chance your Kurilian Bobtail will enjoy being groomed. Other than that, Kurilian Bobtails need the same grooming attention as other cats. You’ll need to purchase cat-friendly toothpaste and regularly brush your buddy’s teeth, and don’t forget to buy a pain-free nail clipper to trim their claws.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Kurilian Bobtails are healthy because they’re a natural breed and haven’t been subjected to the interbreeding for specific characteristics that causes so many physical problems in purebred cats. While we don’t know much about the breed yet, in part because it’s so new, it appears these cats don’t suffer from a heightened risk of any hereditary diseases.

Minor Conditions


Serious Conditions


Male vs. Female

If you’ve already decided to purchase one of these gorgeous cats, you still might be wondering whether you should adopt a male or female kitten. The biggest difference between male and female Kurilian bobtail cats is their weight and size. It’s not unusual for males to weigh up to 15 pounds which might be a bit heavy for some people to pick up and carry comfortably. And remember, Kurilian bobtails love being handled, played with, and cuddled. So it’s important to take your ability to meet your cat’s physical needs into consideration when deciding whether to choose a male or female kitten.

Final Thoughts

Kurilian bobtail cats are gorgeous, active, super-smart creatures that make wonderful companions. Between their active yet relaxed personalities and super cute short tails, what’s not to love! They have winning personalities and enjoy being around humans, yet they haven’t lost their taste for adventure. They’re outstanding hunters, and they’ll stalk neighborhood birds (if allowed) and follow you around to get cuddles.

But even more importantly, because this is a natural breed, you’re not likely to encounter many of the health issues seen in pedigree cats that have been bred by humans to produce animals with specific physical characteristics. Just keep in mind that it might be a bit difficult to locate one of these kitties in the United States, where there are limited numbers of the cats registered.

While Kurilian Bobtails are wonderful with kids and enjoy human contact, they’re also efficient and powerful hunters. If you have a small mammal or bird at home, you might want to select a breed with less accomplished hunting skills.

Featured Image Credit: Natalia Fedosova, Shutterstock

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