Kurilian Bobtail: A Fierce Hunter That’s Also Amiable and Outgoing

Kurilian Bobtail cat playing outsid ein the yard
Martha Harvey
Written by Martha Harvey

Are you looking for a playful family pet that can also help in solving the mice infestation in your house? Cats have always been known to be good at scaring mice away, but there actually aren’t that many breeds left that are noted for their excellent mousing abilities. For example, the Maine Coon is no longer considered a good hunter; the same goes for breeds like the Ragdoll and the Persian. The Kurilian Bobtail, however, is one cat breed that is known for their ability to keep the mice population at bay.

The superior hunting skill of the Kurilians isn’t the only thing you’ll love about this cat. Their round, short tail is simply irresistible. They are also very smart, curious, active, and friendly. That get along well with most animals, including dogs. They have an excellent life expectancy, and they are overall a very healthy breed. They are also great at acrobatics. If you decide to adopt a Kurilian, no doubt they will be a source of endless fun for your family.

Kurilian Bobtail in a green studio

The Kurilian sounds like an interesting cat breed, right? In this article, you will learn everything there is to know about this cat breed—from their origins to their size, health, and grooming. It’s not a long shot that the moment you’re done with this article, you will have fallen in love with this breed.

Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability: High

  • Grooming: Above Average Needs

  • Health: Very Good

  • All Around Friendliness: Good

  • Exercise Needs: Moderate

Cat Breed GroupSemi Long-Haired, Natural Breed
Weight8 - 15 pounds
Lifespan14 - 20 years

The Kurilian has a very deceiving look. From afar, this cat looks very fierce and intimidating, but they are actually very friendly. In fact, they have no problem sharing a domicile with other animals including dogs. This cat is also safe for families with small children.

This cat looks compact, but you will realize that they are solidly built when you pick them up. This cat has long hind legs and bobbed tail—which is arguably their most distinguishing characteristic. The long hind legs of the cat make them very agile. It’s the same agility that makes them a dangerous hunter and a threat to mice in any household.

Aside from being a potent mouse killer, the Kurilian can snag fishes easily so you may want to protect the fish you keep in the aquarium. The bobbed tail may give you the impression that this breed is a relative of the Japanese Bobtail. After all, the latter is also known for their kinked and short tail. You may even have some trouble distinguishing the two. True enough, some experts believe that the Japanese Bobtail originated from the Kurilian.

Kurilian Bobtail in a studio

The Japanese Bobtail, however, is slimmer and less stocky compared to these Kuril Islands native. The Kurilian has a round head while their Japanese counterpart’s is shaped like a triangle.

Another difference is the shape of the eyes. The Japanese Bobtail has eyes that are slightly slanted and oval in shape. On the other hand, Kurilians have rounded eyes. You can also look at the ears of both cats and notice some differences. In particular, a Japanese Bobtail features taller ears than a Kurilian. The base of the ears on the Japanese Bobtail is also narrower.

Kurilian Bobtail in a cat tree

The Kurilian likes to play in water—which isn’t something you can say about other cat breeds. This trait is not surprising because this cat breed originated in an island region in Russia.

Aside from their noteworthy hunting instinct, this cat is also known for their affectionate and loving ways. They are very loyal to their owner and would gladly follow him or her around for the entire day. This cat also likes to sit beside their owner.

Main Highlights

  • Kurilians were first displayed during a cat show in Russia during the 1990s and by the turn of the new millennium, were widely known amongst cat clubs around the world. The cat was recognized by the World Cat Federation in 1996 and the International Cat Association in 2012.

  • Kurilians are survivors. They are used to living in a cold climate environment. They are excellent hunters who are capable of catching wild animals like snakes. What’s even more impressive is their ability to catch small bears when they hunt together in the wild.

  • Their natural hunting and survival skills can be seen from time to time when they are in a domesticated environment. Kurilians like to climb the highest spot they can get to, like the top of cabinets and doorways. It’s as if they are scouting or surveying their prey from a good vantage point while in the wild.

  • Don’t worry, though, as Kurilians won’t cause any commotion in your household. This is a very friendly cat that can get along with most pets—including dogs. Plus, they are also safe for small children.

  • This cat won’t make a lot of noise, making them a great house companion. On the other hand, their thick and double coat require frequent brushing to reduce shedding—preferably once every two days or more often.

  • Kurilians are also hardy cats who can live up to 20 years. This characteristic may be attributed to the inherent survival instincts of the cat. As a natural breed, they are also free from genetic health problems.

  • A very active cat, Kurilians are always up for fun and games. They are also easy to train thanks to their superior intelligence. When it’s night time, a Kurilian cat won’t mind sleeping with you.

Breed History

This natural cat breed originated from the Kuril Islands—a group of volcanic islands nestled between Russia and Japan. It is believed that these cats have been around for more than 200 years.

The Kuril Islands are currently being disputed by Russia and Japan. Due to the close proximity of the islands to both countries, Kurilians have also been found in other territories of both nations like the Sakhalin island of Japan and the Kamchatka peninsula of Russia. Kurilians are also known by other names like Kuril Island Bobtail and Curilisk Bobtail. Some cat owners simply call them the Kurileans.

Kurilian Bobtail kitten wanting to get to a flower

In the 1980s, the cat was brought over to mainland Russia by scientists and military men who were stationed in the Kuril Islands. Kurilians are valued in Russia because of their superior mousing skills. Over in Europe, this cat breed is known for their laidback personality. Unfortunately, this cat breed is still quite rare in the United States and the United Kingdom. The International Cat Association says that only about 100 Kurilians exist the US.


Kurilians may appear like lightweight cats from afar. But you will realize that these cats are quite heavy when you lift them. A mature male Kurilian can weigh up to 15 pounds while their female counterparts are usually smaller and can weigh up to 11 pounds.

Kurilian Bobtail cat in a studio

The Kurilian looks intimidating due to their broad chest and muscular build. They have a medium to large body with a large head and a short bobtail. The short bobtail is arguably the most distinguishing physical feature of the Kurilian. The kinked, short tail of the Kurilian gives them a cute and endearing look.

You won’t find two Kurilians with the exact same tails. This is due to the unique tail structure of the Kurilian cat breed which gives each one a distinctive tail. Those tails also take on various looks—with some looking like a spiral and others like a whisk.

Personality and Character

This cat is domesticated in many parts of Russia mainly because of their ability to hunt mice. They can be a very good addition to your household, especially if you’re having rodent problems. The Kurilian is not only known for being an excellent mousing cat. They are also highly regarded for their superior survival skills.

Their superb survival skills are noticeable even in a domestic setting. Kurilians love to climb up to the highest spot in the house as if they are surveying things around them. Because of this nature, you might have to hide prized artwork, figurines, photo frames, and other fragile items away.

These are smart and highly adaptable creatures who can survive in any situation. While Kurilians are great at hunting and survival, make no mistake—they are also very friendly and outgoing. They can get along with almost everyone including complete strangers. They are sociable and fun-loving and won’t say no to games that involve running and jumping. We’re sure that your kids will love playing with Kurilians.

Kurilian Bobtail cat sitting on something outside in the sun

However, Kurilian Bobtails can be too trusting at times. Their fondness for being stroked can also be quite a challenge, as they may follow strangers who do it to them. Let’s just say that a Kurilian can easily be stolen when left alone in the streets. That’s why we suggest that you keep your Kurilian as an indoors-only cat.

This cat breed also loves to spend time with their owner. They will follow their owner around all day long. And once they are tired from all those activities they have engaged in, they would love to sit in the lap of their owner. Don’t worry, though, as this cat won’t demand too much of your time. They can play on their own.

Kurilian Bobtail cat walking on a wall and meowing

Kurilians are very curious. It’s not a stretch of the imagination to say that you will often find this cat playing with puzzles. It’s a testament to the natural intelligence and curiosity of this cat. Kurilians are so adaptable that they won’t have problems fitting into your household. They not only get along well with children and dogs, but they are also very quiet and gentle. They are easy to train, too, given their inherent intelligence. The Kurilians are a low-maintenance cat that busy cat owners will love to have in their home.

Health and Potential Problems

Kurilians are generally healthy cats with no known genetic health problems. It is possible for this cat to live up to 20 years. However, you also can’t discount the possibility that they may fall prey to any of the following common health problems affecting cats:

  • Vomiting. This is a health problem that can be due to numerous causes—from eating something that doesn’t agree with them to more serious concerns like urinary tract issues and diabetes. Vomiting can cause dehydration, so it’s a good idea to contact your vet right away if it doesn’t stop.

  • Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease or FLUTD. This is actually not a disease but a general term to describe conditions affecting the lower urinary tract of cats. It is common in overweight cats, as well as those who are stressed. Some of the symptoms of FLUTD are bloody urine, difficulty in urinating, licking around the urinary area, and vomiting. Other symptoms of this condition include depression, lack of appetite, and dehydration.

  • Fleas. Unlike the two other health problems, this one is a condition that you can easily treat. Watch out for symptoms like frequent licking, hair loss, irritated skin, and skin infections. Fleas on the skin of cats look like small black dots. To treat fleas, you can opt for oral or topical medication. There are also powders and foams for flea treatment and control.

  • Diarrhea. There are many reasons why cats can suffer from diarrhea. It could be due to intestinal parasites. The cat may have eaten spoiled food. Or they may be suffering from liver diseases, or worse, cancer. You’ll know a Kurilian has diarrhea if he or she keeps on having loose and watery stool.

  • Eye Problems. This can be caused by retinal diseases, inflammation, trauma, or cataracts. Watch out for symptoms like watery eyes and squinting. There’s not much you can do aside from bringing your cat to the vet.

Care Features

Because of their highly adaptable nature, Kurilian Bobtails can easily adapt to different living conditions. They are also easy to take care of. They don’t require any special care. Just make sure that their eyes, ears, and teeth are clean. Also, keep them exercised, so they don’t become obese.

Beautiful Kurilian cat sitting on the grass

Kurilians have one of the longest lifespans among the kitty population. They can live from 14 to 20 years—perhaps more if cared for properly. Due to the fact that Kurilians can be trusting at times, it may be a good idea to keep them locked in the house as they could easily be stolen by strangers.

Feeding Schedule

Like most cats, Kurilians are picky eaters. They can also suffer from bouts of sensitive stomach at times, so don’t give them human foods like vegetables or milk. We suggest picking a brand of dry cat food that they like and that you know is good for them, then stick to it. Don’t forget to mix it with canned or homemade wet cat food.

Beautiful Kurilian kitten sitting outside on the grass near his mother

If you balance their feeding with exercise, you can put food out for them all day and let them decide when they want to eat. If you notice your cat getting a bit chubby, however, consult your vet and ask them to devise a suitable feeding schedule for your cat. While these cats do get along well with dogs, feeding times could be quite hectic if you don’t separate the two of them. We suggest employing the help of a dog-proof cat feeder.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

Kurilians are gifted with a thick mane of hair. These cats do come with a layer of undercoat, which means they tend to shed a bit more than cats with no undercoat. You will need to brush their hair often—preferably daily—to get rid of all the loose hair. This cat comes in numerous colors like red, gray, white, and silver. Many cat owners consider those with silver highlights to be the most beautiful.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

As mentioned earlier, Kurilians are friendly and adaptable cats that won’t have any problem fitting into any household. They get along well with children of all ages. This cat breed can also live together with dogs. However, you might want to keep birds, hamsters, and fishes in the aquarium away from this cat breed because of their strong hunting instinct.

Wrap Up

Summing things up, Kurilian Bobtails are the ideal companion for families dealing with rodent problems. These fierce cats are inherently great at hunting mice. However, Kurilians aren’t only advisable for families who are bothered by rodents at home. They are also recommended for households looking for a friendly and active cat. This cat breed is noted for their outgoing and fun-loving ways.

Beautiful Kurilian cat sitting outside on the grass

Kurilian cats get along well with children and dogs. However, due to their thick and bushy hair, they are not low-maintenance cats grooming-wise. Make sure you are able to dedicate some time every day to brushing their hair before you adopt this cat.

Does the Kurilian—with their strong survival instinct and easygoing temperament—seem like the right cat for you? If you’re looking for a cat that’s easier to care for grooming-wise but at the same time no less affectionate than the Kurilians, we have another breed suggestion for you. Share your thoughts by writing in the comments section below!

About the author
Martha Harvey
Martha Harvey

Martha Harvey is a skilled veterinarian and a member of American Veterinary Medical Association from Greeley, Colorado. She has 20 years experience of working in Animal Hospital. Martha loves all of her patients, but her favorite one is the Russian Blue cat Stitch, who lives with her.