Japanese Bobtail: vertebral morphology and genetic characterization of an established cat breed

J Feline Med Surg. 2015 Aug;17(8):719-26. doi: 10.1177/1098612X14558147. Epub 2014 Dec 8.


Several cat breeds are defined by morphological variation of the tail. The Japanese Bobtail is a breed that has been accepted for registration only within the past 50 years; however, the congenital kinked tail variants defining this breed were documented in the Far East centuries ago and the cats are considered 'good luck' in several Asian cultures. The recent discovery of the mutation for the tailless Manx phenotype has demonstrated that the Japanese Bobtail does not have a causative mutation in the same gene (T-Box). Here, a simple segregation analysis of cats bred from a pedigreed Japanese Bobtail demonstrated a simple autosomal dominant mode of inheritance with variable expression of the tail length and kink placement. Unexpectedly, radiological examinations of the entire vertebral column of kink-tailed cats indicated variation from the normal vertebral feline formula (C7, T13, L7, S3, Cd20-24), including cats with mostly one reduction of thoracic vertebrae (C7, T12, L7, S3), and an average of 15.8 caudal vertebrae. A few cats had variation in the number of cervical vertebrae. Several transitional vertebrae and anomalous ribs were noted. One cat had a bifid vertebra in the tail. Most cats had hemivertebrae that were usually included in the tail kink, one of which was demonstrated by gross pathology and histopathology. The abnormal vertebral formula or the placement of the kink in the tail did not coincide with morbidity or mortality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breeding*
  • Cat Diseases / genetics*
  • Cat Diseases / pathology
  • Cats
  • Congenital Abnormalities / pathology
  • Congenital Abnormalities / veterinary*
  • Mutation
  • Phenotype
  • Species Specificity
  • Spinal Cord Compression / pathology
  • Spinal Cord Compression / veterinary*
  • Thoracic Vertebrae