Breeds of Cats
Edited by Kathy McGraw, Maria Quinney
The domestic cat, Catus Felis, does not have the same wide variety of breeds as the dog does. In fact, the Cat Fanciers Association (the CFA), which is the most popular breed association in North America recognizes just 40 breeds of cat, while the Federation Internationale Feline (FIF), a cat breed association in Europe, recognizes 43 breeds, and the International Cat Association (TICA) recognizes 60.
The reason for the discrepancy comes down to what constitutes a separate breed; the FIF and TICA use a more liberal definition than the CFA does, for example, recognizing breeds such as the Himalayan and Shorthaired Persian as distinct breeds rather than a sub-type of Persian.
Everyone loves a cat with luxurious fluffy hair and a plumed, bushy tail. The following cat breeds have those characteristics and more.
- 1Persian. The Persian remains one of the most popular cat breeds in the United States. With its soft, fluffy coat, round face, and placid disposition, it makes for an excellent companion to cuddle with on the sofa while you watch television or to hang onto as you fall asleep in bedAdvertisement
- 2Maine Coon. The Maine Coon is not only a fluffy cat with a plumed tail, but it is also one of the largest domestic cat breeds, with males weighing on average 13 to 18 pounds. Although it is is 100 percent domestic cat, its leonine face and large size gives it a certain wild quality.Advertisement
- 3Somali. The Somali has been called the cat that looks like a "little fox" because of its vibrant coat and long plumed tail. It is an intelligent cat that loves to play and get into cupboards, so perhaps a child latch on cabinet doors that you don't want this inquisitive feline to get into is in order.
- 4Himalayan. The Himalayan is actually a sub-type of Persian cat derived from crossing a Persian with a Siamese cat. The result is basically a blue-eyed Persian with Siamese markings. This striking cat is just as placid and affectionate as other Persians, with its beautiful long-haired coat.
- 5Highland Fold. This fluffy Scottish cat has a genetic propensity for its cartilage to bend and "fold" backwards and forwards, resulting in its folded-over ears.
Rare cat breeds are breeds that are either very recently recognized by the cat associations, or just difficult to find.
- 1American Bobtail. This muscular "bobbed tail" cat hail from the United States but there are not yet many American Bobtail breeders; however, the breed is gaining in popularity, so hopefully the breed will become more widely available.Advertisement
- 2Burmilla. The Burmilla breed began quite by accident when janitor left a door open, which allowed a Chinchilla Persian and Burmese cat to get together. The result is a striking cat with a soft fluffy coat and a gentle disposition.
- 3Korat. The Korat hails from the Korat Province of Thailand and is prized for its striking silver coat and green eyes. Born with blue ey#es, they turn amber, and finally green as the cat matures.
- 4Havana Brown. The Havana Brown is a beautiful chocolate cat with green eyes and a friendly personality. It was developed in England and imported into the United States in 1950.
- 5Ragamuffin. Related to the Ragdoll, Ragamuffins take their name from their origins on the streets. They were first accepted into the CFA in 2003.
Hybrid cats are not true separate breeds because they are created by crossing the domestic cat with one of its wild cousins. The result is an exotic-looking cat that retains some of its wild progenitor's behaviors. These cats do best with people who are experienced with owning such a challenging pet.
- 1Bengal. The gorgeous muscular and spotted Bengal is a hybrid cross between the domestic cat and the Asian Leopard Cat (ALC), and as such is not a purely domesticated animal. Bengals that are further removed from their wild heritage make the most stable and loving pets, but all Bengals retain a certain degree of "wildness," and therefore should be considered only if you are an experienced cat owner.
The following are species of wildcat that people may own as pets. Some have been used to produce hybrids by breeding them to domestic cats. Since these animals are wild, you should think twice before attempting to have one as a pet.
- 1Serval. Bred with domestic cats to create the Savannah, the Serval is a large cat (often 50 pounds) that appears very cheetah-like with legs that have longest legs in terms of percent to body size of any cat species. The Serval can reach speeds of 50 miles per hour, but they most often use their long legs for pouncing.
- 2Asian Leopard Cat. The Asian Leopard Cat comes from South and East Asia and is quite small, often weighing less than seven or eight pounds when fully grown. It's beautiful spotted fur makes it a very attractive, if wild, pet. When bred with a domestic cat, the cross produces the Bengal.
- 3Rusty Spotted Cat. The Rusty Spotted cat is the smallest cat in the world, weighing less than two pounds when fully grown. Native to India and Sri Lanka, they hunt at night and feast on lizards, rodents, and insects.
- 4Palla's Cat. Also called the Manul, this odd looking feline was first discovered by Peter Simon Pallas, a German Naturalist in 1776. It is about the size of your average domestic cat and eats gerbils.
- 5Geoffroy's Cat. Native to South America, this small spotted cat normally lives around water where it can hunt its preferred prey: fish, frogs, and lizards.
If you or a family member suffers from allergies to cat hair or dander, but you love cats and want one as a pet, these breeds are usually well-tolerated by people with allergies.
- 1Balinese. Although the Balinese has long hair, this cat doesn't produce as much of the Fel d 1 protein that makes people who are allergic to cats react.
- 2Oriental Shorthair. This beautiful cat comes in over 300 different colors and has short fine fur that doesn't shed very much. With regular grooming, it's a good choice for people with allergies.
- 3Sphynx. The Sphynx is an odd looking cat with large ears, big slanted eyes and no hair on its body. Since it has no hair to catch allergens, it is less likely to produce an allergic response.
Breeds that Are Good for Kids
Cats that are placid, tolerant, and playful make the best pets for children who may not always be as careful around them as they should. The following cat breeds live well with kids of all ages.
- 1Ragdoll. The fluffy Ragdoll is an affable and friendly cat that takes well to being manhandled by children and this, combined with its playful nature, makes it the ideal feline companion for kids of all ages.
- 2Birman. The Birman is a legendary cat from the country of Burma(now Myanmar), once thought to inhabit the ancient Temples of Buddha. Born pure white, it develops striking coloration as it matures. With Friendly and affectionate, the Birman craves love and attention from its people and loves to be cuddled.
- 3Exotic Shorthair. Really a shorthaired Persian, the Exotic Shorthair has the laid-back attitude of the Persian without the heavy grooming requirement. It has minimal shedding is makes an affectionate and playful playmate for young children.
- 4Japanese Bobtail. This striking feline with its characteristic "bobbed"tail is an intelligent, social, and playful companion that will keep kids entertained with its antics all day long. It is also gentle and doesn't mind noise or rough housing.
- 5Siamese. Hailing from Thailand,(previously called Siam), the Siamese is a striking cat with its iconic light fur set off by a black mask, ear points, and socks. It's friendly, inquisitive nature coupled with its intelligence makes it the perfect pet for children. It's also ideal for people who don't want to deal with a lot of shedding.
Cats that Like Water
While you might think that cats and water don't get along at all, the following breeds are quite fond of getting wet and may douse you with water, as well.
- 1Manx. The Manx comes from the Isle of Man, a small island on the coast of Britain. It loves water so much that it may join you in the shower and its double coat helps to keep water away from its skin.
- 2Abyssinan. The sleek Abyssinian comes by its love of water quite naturally since its roots are in the islands of the Indian Ocean. It has been known to learn how to work the water taps to create a mini-pool for it to play in.
- 3Snowshoe. Named after its white paws, the Snowshoe will not shy away from water. The Snowshoe was bred from a cross between an American Shorthair and a Siamese cat.
- 4Norwegian Forest Cat. A cousin to the Maine Coon, the Norwegian Forest Cat loves the water and is an avid fisher. It can and will catch fish in ponds and streams, so it's not a good idea to get this breed if you have an aquarium.
- 5Turkish Van. Hailing from the Lake Van area of Turkey, the Van has been called the "swimming cat" for its natural propensity to explore and dip into any body of water, from lakes to toilet bowls.