With the exception of a few true cat fanciers, Americans have traditionally been less particular about the bloodlines of their cats than of their dogs. Cats were most commonly seen on farms and they worked to help keep down the vermin population. As cats have become more of a companion than a farm-hand there has been a steadily increasing interest in cat breeds, their purity, and pedigree . The Cat Fanciers’ Association is dedicated to the preservation of the purebred and recognizes 39 pedigreed cat breeds. Listed below are 15 of these breeds along with some information about the breed’s characteristics and history.
1. Russian Blue – The Russian Blue is a gentle, friendly cat with a distinct appearance. These cats have dense, thick, short coats that come in one color: blue. In contract to the blue fur the cats have bright green eyes and are known equally for their beautiful appearance as they are for their unassuming dispositions.
2. Ragdoll – The Ragdoll is a large cat that has been bred to be affectionate and people oriented. They love to play and some have been taught to come when called. The Ragdoll has a medium length coat that lacks an under coat which makes maintenance of the cat easier than many other long-hairs. Ragdolls are easy to live with and fit well into the lives most families.
3. Cornish Rex – Although the Cornish Rex looks similar to images of ancient Egyptian cats it originated in Cornwall, England in 1950 where it was discovered in a littler of barn cats. These cats are distinct in appearance with an egg shaped and sized head, huge, erect ears, and enormous green-yellow eyes. This cat has an extremely unusual coat that is soft, fine, very short, and grows in waves. The Cornish Rex is affectionate, playful, and retains its kitten like antics throughout its lifetime.
4. Siamese -The Siamese cat, originally from Thailand, is an acutely intelligent and inquisitive animal. It is thought to be the oldest of all domestic. The Siamese is a people lover. He will regularly tell his family how much he cares for them with his loud meows.
5. Main Coon – The Main Coon Cat is a large, native-American long-haired cat. It is revered in Main for its mousing talents. The Main Coon is a social animal that is particularly good for families with children or dogs.
6. Abyssinian -Although the name suggests that this cat is from Ethiopia (formerly Abyssinia), they are actually from India. The name “Abyssinian” came about when the cat was initially brought to England by way of Abyssinia. Abys are one of the most intelligent cats and although they are not “cuddly” they love their people, are inquisitive, and want to help you with whatever you’re working on.
7. American Bobtail – The American Bobtail looks startlingly similar to a wild Bobcat. It has a dense coat, a stocky build, and a naturally occurring bobbed tail. American Bobtails are noted for their “dog-like” personalities and their devotion to their families. American Bobtails have been used as therapy cats in treatment programs because they have been found to be very well-behaved and sensitive to people in distress.
8. Ocicat – Originating in Michigan in 1964 the Ocicat is a mix of Abyssinian, Siamese and American Shorthair. It is the only spotted domestic breed selectively bred to emulate the cats of the wild. Although the Ocicat has an exotic and wild appearance its personality is very domestic and well suited for life with a family.
9. American Wirehair – The American Wirehair was first seen in upstate New York in 1966. The lone cat was a spontaneous mutation in a litter of barn cats. Healthy, genetic mutation is a relatively common occurrence but the difference with the American Wirehair is that because his characteristics were so unique an organized effort was made to retain his bloodline and genetic pattern. Interestingly, this genetic mutations has not appeared anywhere in the world other than the United States. The American Wirehair’s temperament is docile and calm and a great pet for a so-called “couch-potato”.
10. Persian – Persians are documented in hieroglyphic paintings dating back to 1684 B.C. They are the most popular of the pure bred cats and come in many colors that are divided into seven color divisions. One of the seven color divisions is referred to as Himalayan. Himalayans are the most common of the Persians and are often inaccurately thought to be (by those outside of the true cat-fanciers group) a unique breed. Persians are sweet and require a stable living environment with consistent routines. The Persian coat requires significant maintenance including daily brushing and frequent baths. To avoid unpleasant outcomes, this routine should be established when the cat is very young.
11. Bombay – In 1953 Nikki Horner, from Louisville, Kentucky set-out to develop a new breed of cats whose appearance was similar to the black panther of India. She bred a sable Burmese with a black-coated, copper-eyed American Shorthair. Over time she consistently bred a solid colored black cat unique from all other cat breeds. The Bombay, named in tribute to the Indian black -panther, was introduced to the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) in 1976. The Bombay is an athletic, outgoing, and affectionate cat that has been known to be leash trained. They make terrific family pets.
12. American Shorthair – The American Shorthair originated from cats that were brought over on the Mayflower to rid the ship of mice. These cats were likely British Shorthairs and although they can be similar in appearance to the mixed-breed domestic cat, American Shorthairs are a unique genetic breed. According the Cat Fanciers Association, the difference between a domestic cross bred cat and an American Shorthair is that, “a pedigreed cat can consistently produce kittens of the same physical conformation, coat quality, and temperament, while a random-bred cat cannot. Years of selective breeding and the careful recording of many generations of cats guarantee that each litter of kittens will have specific qualities. American Shorthairs are playful companions for the entire family.
13. Somali – At first glance the Somali cat looks like a feral or wild cat. It resembles a fox in its color and movement. Its looks are deceiving because the Somali is a sweet, quiet natured cat with an intelligent and social disposition. Because it is slightly larger than many other purebreds, the Somali is great for families with small children.
14. Exotic – Exotics are sometimes affectionately referred to as the lazy man’s Persian. They are bred to match every standard of the Persian except one: coat length. Exotics have short, thick hair that does not mat or tangle. They are wonderful pets for people that love the Persian breed but don’t have the time or discipline required to maintain a Persian’s coat.
15. Siberian – There is little known about the Siberian other than that the earliest documentation of the cat dates back 1000 years. Because there is so little documentation about Siberians it’s difficult to know the true standards of the breed. The first Siberian was brought to the United States in 1990 and despite the cats instant popularity they are still extremely rare in the U.S. Siberians come in a wide range of colors and have a medium length, dense coat. Siberians are extremely friendly and behave similarly in temperament to many of the terrier dog breeds. Additionally, there is evidence that Siberians cause fewer reactions in many cat allergy sufferers. Siberians were recognized by the CFA in 2000.
Neil Lemons is a pet lover and Online Journalist. He has had the privilege of owning several cats and dogs over the years, some living into their 90s (in dog years). For information on where you can buy gourmet natural cat treats, check out http://www.N-Bone.com, world authority on healthy animal treats for your dog, cat, or ferret.
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