One of the Newest Championship Breeds in TICA
by Nicki Fenwick-Raven – Amisti Kurilian Bobtails
Accepted into Championship status by TICA in May 2012 and one of only thirteen Natural breeds recognised in TICA the Kurilian Bobtail is progressing slowly outward from its Russian and Japanese roots and can now be seen in the catteries of progressive breeders in the USA and Europe who are interested in promoting the breed both as beautiful show cats and excellent family pets.
As a natural breed the Kurilian traces its origins to the Kuril Islands and Sakhalin Island, volcanic islands stretched between Russia and Japan. The cats have been documented on the Islands for more than 200 years and it seems were introduced as catchers of vermin to Russian households due to their natural ability to catch small rodents and have very successfully adapted to become favoured pets.
The Kurilian Bobtail is an independent, highly intelligent, clever and inquisitive cat. If there is something going on you can bet the Kurilian will be at the centre of it, they are sociable and playful and excellent with children as they are the most gentle of felines.
Possibly due to their natural beginnings the Kurilian is an active and energetic feline with a penchant for heights and a natural swiftness of foot which is surprising for such a cobby feline. They are excellent tree climbers and love nothing more than to sit on top of doors or cupboards’ surveying what is going on below. They move pretty quickly too and are happy to play with other felines, dogs or humans!
The body is medium to large, compact and semi-cobby, with a broad chest. The head is large, a moderate modified wedge with rounded contours and wide at the cheekbone. Eyes are walnut shaped, oval on the top and rounded on the bottom. The ears are medium sized, triangular in shape, wide at the base and slope slightly forward. On first seeing, Kurilian Bobtail you may think that the cat is not particularly heavy, but upon lifting it becomes apparent that these marvellous creatures are very solid and brawny. The coat is soft and silky, generally non matting and pleasant to the touch. The Kurilian Bobtail comes in a variety of traditional colors in solid or tabby, and these colors with any amount of white on their body. Some of the most stunning Kurilian Bobtails also exhibit silver highlights however, they do not and should never carry the pointed gene.
My first encounter with them was in Moscow Russia in 2011. Fifteen adults and kittens were present at a TICA Cat Show which was running alongside a companion animal show.
The Kurilians however, took my breath away. Creatures of magnificent stature and with immense presence I was fascinated with them from the first look. Fortunate enough to be able to handle the cats on show their sheer size and musculature and yet gentle disposition made them a truly engaging feline breed. It was amazing that a breed with such bulk and substance was such a gentle and loving cat.
I kept in touch with the breeders I met and in early 2013 was pleased to welcome three cats from different breeders into my cattery in the UK.
As I write this article in June 2014 there are currently 172 titled Kurilians (both Long and Shorthaired) in TICA and we now have our very first IW in the breed:
IW SGC Tisima Anyu Bliklya of Amisti
International 10th Best Allbreed Kitten
Best of Breed Kurilian Bobtail LH Adult
Best All Breed Kitten Region EW
The most remarkable part of the Kurilian is their fabulous tail; no two tails are the same just like a human fingerprint each has its own signature. It’s a dominant gene so even if the Kurilian were to be mated with a domestic cat all the resulting kittens would have short kinked or twisted tails. Although it is known as a Pom Pom really the structure is very different. The short, busy tails can be shaped like a whisk, a spiral, a stump or a snag that consist of anywhere between 2-10 vertebrae kinked many times in various directions. Each tail felt is a new adventure, the amazing ways that each tailbone can articulate, twist, turn and spiral makes you want to feel them again and again. It’s an amazing “structure” and good to know that the gene that makes it happen is not a dangerous, life threatening one for the breed.
Snag – This form of tail mostly consists of 2-8 rigidly jointed vertebrae. The kinks feel like knobs. Often seen with outgrowth from the base of the spine. Sometimes, such a “snag” ends with 1-2 vertebrae, thin and pointed aside. This type of tail keeps partial flexibility. It is difficult to count the exact number of vertebrae as, very often; only the outgrowth can be felt.
Spiral – This type of tail is the most beautiful. It consists of 5-10 vertebrae twisted in a manner to form sharp angles and coils. The “spiral” may look like a half bagel, Danish pastry or fishhook.
The vertebrae junctions can be articulated or semi-rigid. It can also represent the combination
of articulated and rigid sections. In this case the cat is able to wag with one or several sections of its tail.
Whisk – This form of tail consists of 5-15 vertebrae. The length usually runs up to 5-13 cm or 2/3 of normal tail length. The vertebrae curve at an obtuse angle. They may keep partial flexibility in some junctions of the tail. The vertebrae may form one or two strongly pronounced kinks. This type of “whisk” will look like a zigzag.
Delayed bobtail – This form of tail starts as a normal one. It is straight and free from defects for the first 5-7 vertebrae, but it ends with a hook and a different degree of articulation. At the end of the tail the “hook” is usually a spiral or zig zag. A kink of the first vertebra may appear as the cat ages then the tail is directed upward forming so called “squirrel tail”. The “delayed bobtail” is a fault.
The excessive length of straight section represents a defect in the standard.
Whilst the fabulous tail of this feline is both imaginative and unique to its breed, the personality of this cat is surely its second most endearing feature. They are simply one of the best companion cats. They love nothing more than to be close to their human slave and to be involved in everything that their human companions get involved in. They will move from room to room as their owners move so strong is their bond and want to be together with their owners.
Like it or not they are into everything and being highly intelligent they can be trained to do most things including fetching a ball and opening doors and they are the most superb fly catchers! Exceptionally social they love to play and are excellent with children, other cats and dogs.
Another great feature of the breed is that fathers also make great parents, the sire can take an active role in the raising of kittens and being even tempered and largely non spraying is able to live as part of the family in the home.
The Kurilian Bobtail is a sturdy cat with no health issues, a well-balanced character who travels well and enjoys all the social aspects and play involved in showing. What better cat to show?
With the champions we already have in TICA and now our very first International Winner in only the second year of championship status the Kurilian looks set to go from strength to strength.
Amisti Kurilian Bobtails