Breeds of cats

Breeds of cats

Nothing is more praiseworthy than to give a home to a pet cat especially if it otherwise faces destruction. Many pet lovers do, however, experience disappointment, when having rushed out and bought the first cat, dog, or even pet rabbit or guinea pig they see advertised, they discover too late the wide choice of types they might have chosen from had they gone into their purchase more carefully.

The best way to choose a pet is to decide the breeds which take your fancy – for instance most people have a preference for either long-coated or short-coated varieties, and then visit a cat show in your area where you will have a chance to talk to cat breeders and find out if, and when, kittens of the type you most like are available. Cat breeders are not unscrupulous people out to take your money. Most likely they began by excitedly purchasing their first pedigree kitten just as you are doing, became interested in the breed, and gradually discovered the pleasure of breeding and showing.

In Britain, you will be able to find out when cat shows are being held in your area by ordering the newspaper, Fur and Feather from your newsagent, or by writing (enclosing a stamped addressed envelope), to The Secretary, Governing Council of the Cat Fancy. The Council can also advise on specialist cat clubs and societies; there are, for instance, clubs catering for the needs of almost every pedigree variety, as well as general regional cat clubs. Best known venue of the Cat Fancy is of course the National Cat Club Show, which is held at Olympia, west London, in December.

Listed is a schedule of the pedigree cat varieties with their breed numbers allocated by the Governing Council of The Cat Fancy. Basically, breeders found that by mating different cats together new kinds could be made. Today these are divided into two main sections; cats with long fur, whose ancestors came from Ankara (then Angora) in Turkey and Iran (then Persia); and those with short fur. Cats with short coats are again divided:

1 Those with short fur, round heads, big rounded eyes and shortish thick tails, known as British cats (said to be descended from the cats that came with the Romans).

2 Foreign short-hairs, with longish heads, almond-shaped eyes, and long thin tails, which came in the first place from cats brought from the Far East.

3 Siamese, of similar shape, but having pale fur on the bodies and dark faces, ears, legs and tails.

4 The Rex, slim cats, but unusual in that the fur is very short and curly.

Over eighty breeds of cats, including colour varieties, are recognized today, most of which have developed in the last thirty years. Only a handful are of ancient origin: the best known is the original seal-point Siamese, from which several other colour-points have been produced by selective breeding. Even now, however, only about 5 per cent of British cats can boast a pedigree and most of these are Siamese, Burmese (developed in the 1930s in the USA!) or Abyssinian (developed in Britain, possibly from a cat brought back from Abyssinia in 1868).

Crossbred ‘moggy’ cats come in a wide variety of colours, with virtually all tortoiseshell cats female, but not all ginger cats male. Genetically, short-coats are dominant to long-coats, so most moggies are short-coated.