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Q. Why is it that every cat I've seen in Japan has only half a tail or only a little stumpy tail

A. The most common type of cat in Japan is the Japanese Bobtail. The tails are not cut and are passed down from parent to kitten. Bobtails have had their short tails (usually less than three inches in length) for hundreds of years and no one knows for sure why. The first theory is that the breed is an extremely ancient one known as the Malay cat that was imported to Japan and died out in its original home. These cats once existed in parts of what is now known as Thailand and Myanmar, and their descriptions match the Japanese Bobtail almost exactly. Cats are said to have been first brought to Japan in the sixth century by the emperor Jinmu but it is not known whether these were Bobtails or not, and the first pictures and descriptions of the breed come from the 17th century.

A. 日本で一番見かける猫はジャパニーズ・ボブテイルです。尻尾は切られたのではなく、親猫から仔猫へと受け継がれているのです。ボブテイルは100年にわたって短い尻尾(普通、長さ3インチ以下)ですが、その確かな理由は誰にも分かりません。この種は日本に持ち込まれ、原産国では死に絶えてしまったマレー猫で、非常に古い種だという第一の説。この猫は現在タイやミャンマーとして知られる一部地域で生息し、その記述がジャパニーズ・ボブテイルとほぼ一致しています。猫は神武天皇によって6世紀に日本にもたらされたと言われていますが、それがボブテイルであったかどうかは分かっていません。ボブテイルの最初の絵や記述は17世紀からのものです。

Another theory revolves around long-tailed cats being regarded as being dangerous or causing bad luck. There is a famous story about a cat that lay too close to a hearth one night. It's tail caught on fire, causing it to run through the streets and burning down an entire city. There is also an ancient tradition which says that long-tailed cats are actually shape-changers that are capable of taking on human form. Because of these beliefs, it is possible that long-tailed cats were killed or not allowed to breed, giving rise to the short-tailed breed so common today.


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