Pedigree or moggy

Most folk who have set their heart on buying a pedigree cat know exactly what they want, so that they may pursue the hobby of cat showing and/or breeding or merely cherish a specimen of what they believe to be the most beautiful variety of cat.

Many cat shows, however, have classes for pet cats which do not have pedigrees. These are not judged by a breed standard though they must be used to being handled by strangers and be in good health. Many children’s cats, if well looked after, win prizes at shows.

Pedigree cats can, of course, command high prices, whereas it is possible to obtain a ‘pet’ cat in return for little or no charge or by making a donation to an animal charity.

The oldest animal charity in Britain devoted solely to cats, is The Cats Protection League based in Horsham, West Sussex. This organization whose work is carried out through fifty branches in Britain, staffed by voluntary workers, rescues strays, unwanted, and sick cats, and rehabilitates, and rehomes them where possible. It informs the public on the care of cats and kittens and, because there are so many unwanted cats in their care, encourages the neutering of cats not required for breeding.

Unusual breeds of cats

There are a number of fascinating cat varieties which you may not be able to see in many places.

The African Wild Cat comes from the open woodlands of Africa and south-east Asia. It has tabby markings, its basic colour ranging from grey to tawny yellow. It stands 35 cm (14 in) high at the shoulder, which is rather larger than most domestic cats. It appears that this variety was successfully tamed by the Ancient Egyptians, as its mummified remains have been found. Other small, wild cats, all of which are closely related, include the Black-footed Cat from South Africa, the Chinese Desert cat, the Jungle Cat of southern Asia, the Sand Cat from North Africa and the Leopard Cat from western Asia.

American Short-hair

The American Short-hair has longer legs and nose than the British type; its muzzle is more square and its fur of harsher texture and of a wider colour range. Incidentally, the colour tortoiseshell-and-white is, in the USA, referred to as calico.

American Wire-hair

In 1966 a chance mutation produced a kitten with coarse, wiry hair in the litter of an American farmyard cat. By selective breeding this was introduced into American Short-hair types from which the breed differs only in coat texture.

Bombay Cat

This is an American breed. It is jet black and was produced by crossing American Short-hairs with the Burmese.

Cymric

This is a long-haired variety of Manx cat produced by chance mutations. It is tail-less.

European Wild Cat

Rarely seen these days, except perhaps in the Highlands of Scotland. It has large, tabby markings and is distinguishable from the domestic cat by its larger skull and teeth and its tail which is rounded at the tip.

Egyptian Mau

Fascinating cats with tiger marking, bred artificially to resemble the cats of the Ancient Egyptians. The Americans recognize the breed in silver and bronze. In Britain, it has been developed from Siamese and has evolved of more foreign type, with a scarab-type (beetle-shaped) mark on the forehead.

Feral cat

Not altogether an unusual species, because it is a domestic cat, turned wild. Feral cats are distinguishable from the European Wild Cat by their pointed tail-tip and smaller head. Most domestic cats could fend for themselves if called upon to do so and, after several, generations of living wild, would tend to revert to tabby coat patterns.

Japanese Bobtail

This is an ancient Japanese variety, unlike any other. Its tail is approximately 10-12 cm (4-5 in) in length, but is held curled so that it tends to look much shorter. Its back legs, which are long, are generally bent, which gives the back a level appearance. The Japanese Bobtail is tri-coloured, red, black and white, (some other colours are accepted in the USA). This cat is said to shed less of its hair than other varieties.

Maine Coon cat

Probably evolved through crossings between the short-haired cats of settlers and Angoras brought by sailors from the east. Requires less grooming than most long-hairs.

Peke-faced Persian

This is a breed of long-hair, recognized only in the USA, and developed from Red Self and Tabby Long-hairs with heavy jowls. It is unusual in that the nose resembles that of a Pekingese dog. However, as it can lead to breathing problems and trouble with tear ducts (as indeed suffered by the Pekinese), there is some controversy as to whether this type should be perpetuated.

Ragdoll

This mutation developed in California from a Persian whose kittens, quite remarkably, seemed impervious to any form of danger, or pain. They are sensitive and extremely vulnerable cats, very loving and like the Birman in appearance.

Scottish Fold

This mutation has the disapproval of a number of feline authorities. It has drop ears and was developed from a kitten of this type born in Scotland. Think of a tabby with the ears of a British boxer dog – but in proportion to head size of course!

Recessive White cats

The white coat in these cats is caused by a totally different gene to that which causes the white coat in other, recognized, white breeds.

The white coat of White Long-hairs, British Short-hairs and Foreign Whites is due to a dominant gene. In a cat with one or two of these genes thecoat is white, but the eye colour may be orange, yellow, green or blue.

The recessive white coat is produced by a gene very similar to that which produces the Siamese, and in the same series.

The Burmese cat has less pigment than a fully coloured cat. The Siamese has even less pigment, and has blue eyes. The Recessive White has further reduced pigment so that it has a white coat, but it still has blue eyes with pigment in them: because there is less pigment there is a pinkish glow behind the blue. Although these cats are known as Albino Siamese in the USA they are not true albinos as they do have pigment in the eyes.

As these white cats are produced by a recessive gene they must possess two genes for Recessive White in order to be White, (c^c3)- If a fully coloured cat, Burmese or Siamese which carries the recessive white gene (Cca, c^ca or ^c3) is mated to another cat carrying the recessive white gene, on average a quarter of the kittens will be white.

All white cats, whether their white coat is due to the dominant white gene or the recessive white, are more sensitive to sunlight than dark coloured cats. White cats which are subjected to strong sunlight tend to get inflamed skin where they are unprotected by hair: this may produce sunburnt ears or conjunctivitis. The same effect may be seen in Bi-coloured cats which have a white patch over an ear or eye, and is sometimes seen in the more dilute coloured cats such as lilacs or creams.

Dominant white cats with blue eyes may suffer from deafness. This is seen, not uncommonly, in Long-hair, British Short-hair and “ordinary moggies’. Deafness has not been observed in any of the Recessive White cats bred in Britain (about thirty cats) and has not been reported in the USA.

At present no Recessive White cat, or cat with Recessive White parents or grandparents, can be registered. It has been suggested that these cats should be registered so that their presence in a pedigree shall be obvious.

The cats we have discussed are all recognized in Britain by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy and, indeed specimens of all varieties named are to be seen at the National Cat Show at Olympia, London. It is quite likely that different colours of some of these varieties are being, or have been produced, but for which no standard has yet been approved by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy.

The Burmese Cat

Burmese is a comparatively new breed to Cat Fanciers and came to Britain from the USA. The little brown cat from which the breed derives, ‘Wong Mau’, was taken to the USA from Rangoon, Burma, in 1933. She came into the hands of a Dr Thompson of San Francisco, USA, who was intrigued by the differences between Wong Mau and seal-point Siamese, the previously known breed of cat from the Far East, and in conjunction with a small group of geneticists and cat breeders carried out a programme of experimental breeding aimed at clarifying Wong Mau’s genetical make up. This proved conclusively that she was in fact a hybrid of Siamese with another distinct breed which they called Burmese. The pure Burmese cats produced in the breeding programme had darker coats than Wong Mau, with less contrast in the coat colour between body and points and when these darker cats were mated together they bred true.

We are told that, like Siamese, these brown cats have been bred in Burma and other parts of the Far East for a very long time and were greatly valued, being the prerogative of the wealthy and of the temples. However true this may have been in the past it is hardly likely to be so now.

Brown Burmese (known as sable Burmese in the USA) are not truly self-coloured cats. Their coat colour shades slightly from a rich dark seal brown on the top of the back to a slightly lighter colour underneath and there is a slight intensification of colour of the points. The kittens when born are a cafe au lait colour which gradually darkens until they achieve full colour at nine to twenty-four months, depending on the particular cat. In these respects they differ from Havanas (the only other short-haired breed of brown cats) which are a uniform brown colour (redder in tone than Burmese brown) all over, the kittens being born the same colour as the adults.

The coat of a healthy Burmese is fine, silky, close lying and has a characteristic natural sheen. The cats are of medium size, strong and very muscular. Other distinctive features are the face (which is short, blunt wedge-shaped, with a short muzzle showing no jaw pinch), the ears (erect, wide at the base with the opening well to the front and with the top of the skull nicely rounded between the ears) and large, expressive eyes ranging in colour from chartreuse yellow to golden yellow. The tail is not whip-shape like Siamese and tapers only slightly to a rounded tip.

The cats are alert, active, intelligent and extremely friendly and affectionate, and it is undoubtedly these character traits which have been mainly responsible for their rapid growth in popularity. The kittens are most attractive in appearance, full of character and quite fascinating to watch.

Until 1955 most people thought of the Burmese as the brown cat and it is probably the brown Burmese with its beautiful eyes, which should be any shade of yellow from chartreuse to amber (golden yellow preferred), which is most popular. The Burmese does, however come in delightful colours of blue, chocolate, lilac, red, tortoiseshell, cream, blue cream, and chocolate and lilac tortoiseshell.

The Foreign White Short-hair

The cat to surpass all other cats – that is how, naturally enough, the Foreign White Cat Fanciers’ Association describe this variety. It represents a dream come true for its pioneer breeders who, more than sixteen years ago started work on the development of a pure white blue-eyed cat with Siamese body type and sound, lovable temperament. Today it is clear that the careful and selective breeding by those early breeders has brought success, for judges regularly comment on the wonderful temperament of Foreign Whites; and the beauty of the breed, with its shining, glossy white coat, long svelte Siamese lines and deep, deep sapphire blue eyes is apparent for all to see.

The breed was recognized for Championship breed status in June 1977. The first Champion was John Harrison’s ‘Scintilla Jou-Lin’. The first Premier was Eileen Scott’s ‘Alexa Jasper’ and the first Grand Champion, Pat Turner’s ‘Scintilla his-Ch’i’.

At the 1977 Supreme Show of the GCCF (five months after full breed status had been granted) Scintilla his-Ch’i became Best Foreign Short-hair Kitten and finally Supreme Kitten. The following year the best Foreign Short-hair Kitten was again a Foreign White.

Not only are Foreign Whites successful at shows, they are also the most wonderful and lovable pets. In fact, ownership of a Foreign White is addictive, most owners deciding that two or more Foreign Whites must be better than one. For this reason kittens are usually in short supply and breeders with Siamese are often advised to mate their Siamese to a Foreign White stud rather than wait for a kitten from another breeder. Matings between Siamese and Foreign White produce 50 per cent Foreign White kittens.

Lists of Foreign White studs and kittens for sale are kept by the Foreign White Cat Fanciers’ Association. This club was formed by the breeders who developed the breed and members are offered a complete service of meetings, advice, annual medal awards, trophies for wins at shows and participation in a specialist show run by the club.

Short-haired Cats

The Havana

The Havana is a dainty, fine-boned cat with a coat of rich chestnut-brown, showing no ghost points. The type is ‘foreign’ with wedge-shaped long head, large ears and a long tapering tail. The eyes should be almond-shaped and green in colour. The legs are slim with dainty oval paws and the foot pads pink. The colour is exactly the same as in chocolate-point Siamese and this cat would be better described as self-chocolate. The Havana’s body is similar to that of Siamese but its rich brown coat is very different from that of the Burmese. Kittens are born with the coat colour they will carry through life.

The Rex

These cats, unlike any others, have curly or wavy fur. There are two kinds differing slightly in the shape of the head and thickness of fur. One is known as Cornish, and the other, Devon. Both have wedge-shaped heads and very large ears. The bodies are long with whip-like tails. They are both enchanting, looking, for all the world, as though they have just come out of the water with a permanent wave.

Cornish Rex

This is the original Rex mutation, first found in Cornwall in 1950. The early Rex were outcrossed to British short-hairs, but since 1965 breeders have aimed for ‘foreign’ type. The Cornish Rex resembles the sacred cat of Ancient Egypt. The coat forms waves over the body. The head, body, legs and tail are proportionately long.

Devon Rex

The second Rex mutation appeared in 1960. Matings to Cornish females produced straight-coated progeny, proving the two mutations to be dissimilar. This mutation was perpetuated by back-crossing the first filial generation to the sire. The Devon Rex coat is closely waved. Type is ‘foreign’, but the head is full-cheeked with a whisker break. Some folk find it hard to differentiate between the Cornish and Devon Rex. In fact, the Devon has a wider, pixieish face and the nose of the Cornish is more Roman. The Rex are endearing, mischievous little cats, very affectionate and exceedingly playful.

The Korat

The Korat has been described as the cat with the heart-shaped face. It is a comparative newcomer to Britain, with a small head and big eyes which are a brilliant green. They are silver-blue in colour and look most gentle and appealing. They originate from*Thailand and found their way to Britain via the USA.

The Manx Cat

The Manx differs from all other cats in that it has no tail and there should be a slight hollow where the tail should start. The head is round and large with a longish nose and full cheeks, the ears being a little pointed. The fur is short and soft and may be of any colour.

Because of their hoppity walk, they were once known as ‘rabbit’ cats. The Utters may contain kittens without tails and with very short tails known as ‘stumpies’.

It is not always easy to rear Manx kittens and very careful weaning is necessary. They are still bred on the Isle of Man where they first came from. Incidentally, the rump of the Manx is expected to be as round as an orange!

Although when speaking of the Manx one generally thinks of the tail-less variety there are also show classifications for the stumpie and the tailed Manx.

The Abyssinian

First seen in Britain in 1869 and mainly originating in this country, this attractive variety is considered to be very near in outline to Ancient Egyptian cats. Murals and statues of the time illustrate cats of this shape. Type is ‘foreign’ with long body, head long and pointed, sharp ears and fairly long tapered tail. The Abyssinian differ from all other short-hairs in the unique coat of ruddy brown with black or brown tickings. There must be no bars or other markings. The chin should not be white, but it is difficult to breed out this defect. It is also possible to produce red and blue coated Abyssinians and these colours are recognized by the Abyssinian Cat Club.

The Russian Blue

This is a most beautiful cat, originally known as the Archangel Blue. The first imports were Lingpopo and Yula, both from Archangel (on the north-west USSR coast) and owned by a Mrs Carew-Cox of Saffron Walden, Essex, England. The breed is noted for its short, thick, silvery-blue coat of a seal skin texture and dainty build. Their heads are small, with green eyes and large vertical ears, and they are very silent, sweet-natured cats.

The Black Short-hair

A shining jet black coat with no white hairs or rustiness is not easy to produce, and a true Short-haired Black is most beautiful to see. Although once regarded as the ‘familiar’ of witches and connected with black magic, this variety with powerful body, deep chest, broad round head, and orange eyes is now a typical ‘British’ cat.

The White Short-hair

As in the long-hairs there are two varieties, one with blue and the other with orange eyes, I.e. Blue-eyed White and Orange-eyed White, the blue-eyed being affected sometimes by deafness. A very attractive cat, with pure white, short thick coat and no yellow tinges, the type as for other British cats. There is also a short-haired Odd-eyed White, with as in the long-haired variety, one eye orange and the other blue.

The Blue Short-hair, or ‘British’ Blue

A good blue is the most typical of the type required for the British short-hair varieties. It has a smooth, plush coat, powerful body, full broad chest and good round head with small eyes. The most popular of British, as opposed to foreign varieties. The coat may be light to medium blue but must be of an even shade throughout.

The Cream Short-hair

These are delightful cats with pale cream coats, good broad heads, small ears and big eyes which change from blue to copper colour. All kittens eyes are blue when first opened and it is some weeks before the true colour shows. Creams are quite rare as it is not easy to breed them with no tabby markings.

The Silver Tabby, or Silver Short-hair

The pattern of markings should be as for other tabbies and the type is typically British. A most distinctive variety with background colour of pure silver and dense black markings. The eyes should be green or hazel.

The Red Tabby Short-hair

The same symmetrical pattern of tabby markings is required, but these should be a very deep red on a lighter red ground. The eyes should be hazel or orange. The concept that all red tabbies are male is incorrect, as from red and tortoiseshell breeding red females may be produced and a red male bred to a red female produces all-red litters of both sexes. There is also a brown tabby short-hair which is not so often seen. It has a typical British broad round head, small ears and big round eyes which may be orange, hazel or deep yellow, with its pattern of black markings standing out from the rich sable background fur.

The Tortoiseshell Short-hair

Coloured patches of black, red (dark and light) and cream, as brilliant as possible, make up the pattern of this variety with no white or brindling. Patching must be all over the body. They are female with the odd freak and sterile male cropping up occasionally. At least one of the parents must carry the colour gene for red.

The Tortoiseshell,and-white Short-hair

These Torties are said to be very loving and maternal. The brilliant colour patches of black, cream and red should stand out clearly, but with additional areas of white. Colour patches should cover the top of the head, ears, back and tail, and also part of the sides. The white blaze on the forehead is light. Eyes should be copper or orange.

The Blue-Cream Short-hair

This is a rare variety in which the coat is intermingled pastel blue and cream and there is no patching. The type should be British. The cat is virtually a ‘blue tortoiseshell’ and invariably female. The variety may be bred through cream and blue matings.

The Foreign Lilac

This is as yet a rare breed in Britain, only having achieved Show Champion-ship status in 1977. It has a Siamese-type body and its coat is of an elusive pink-toned frosty-grey with pinkish nose leather and pads. Because there are few cats of this type at this time, mating may be made with the Havana from which this type originated, but once more stud cats are available, doubtless one will see more of this attractive unusual cat.

Other comparatively rare breeds include the British Tipped, the Smoke Short-hair, the Bi-colour Short-hair and the Spotted Short-hair. The British Tipped, which is of British type with broad round head, small ears and short, straight broad nose, is different from other British varieties in that the undercoat should be white-tipped with any recognizable British colour, or tipped with brown, chocolate or lilac.

Oriental Spotted Tabby

Also a Siamese type, but has a different coat pattern – clear scarab (beetle) marking on head, unbroken lines running from eyes and pencilling on cheeks. This variety should have a short, fine glossy coat with thumb prints on ears, legs should be barred, spotted or both. It has a kinked tail.

The Foreign Black

Developed from crosses between the Havana and seal-point Siamese. The short, fine, jet black hair, should be minus white hairs or rusty tinge. Siamese type with long head, large ears and oriental green eyes.

The Black Cat

The Black Cat was, in the Middle Ages, thought to be a creature of evil, the instrument of Satan. Nowadays, it is an omen of good luck and we believe that good fortune will befall us if a self-coloured black cat should happen to cross our path. Short-haired Black cats are, however, more frequently seen than the long-haired variety. The broad-headed Long-haired Black with its blazing orange eyes and, questionably, sinister look could well be the instrument of supernatural powers. Nowadays, however, it is more likely to be a much sought-after and rightly pampered pet.

The Bi-Colour Long-hair

At the turn of the century short-haired bi-coloured cats were being shown and a list of acceptable colours that could combine with white were set down by Mr Harrison Weir, but the long-haired bi-colours had to be shown in any other colour classes, being black and white, blue and white, orange and white, and tabby and white. Bi-coloured cats have been seen in Britain for many years and generally acquired as pets. It was not until 1966, following the discovery that by selective breeding they might assist in the breeding of Tortoiseshell-and-whites, that a standard was granted by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy based on Dutch rabbit marking. It will have been noticed that the cat and rabbit varieties have many similar names and groupings. Indeed the newspaper Fur and Feather caters for fanciers of both animals.

The Blue-Cream Long-hair

The Blue-Cream has been evolved through the mating of Blue and Cream Long-hairs, sometimes the mating of a Tortoiseshell with a Blue or Black Long-hair. Breeders in Britain have gone to immense trouble to obtain the coat of soft and good texture of blue and cream intermingled. This is the required standard in Britain and in Europe but the coat patched, as in the tortoiseshell, is liked in the USA.

The required colours should be pale pastel shades without any trace of red, and, as with so many other breeds, patching is considered a fault. This is a cobby cat with a broad round head and tiny ears, and what looks like a gentleman’s beautiful side whiskers. Again most Blue-Creams are feminine so crossbreeding is necessary to ensure continuity, usually by mating a cream female to a blue male.

The Red Self Long-hair

The Red Self Long-hair is a beautiful cat with a broad round head, small ears, short nose and big, round, deep copper coloured eyes, a problem with this variety being that there are usually tabby markings somewhere on the body which, for show purposes, are considered a fault. At one time the colour of these long-hairs was referred to as orange, and references to this colour appeared in show reports.

It is believed, however, that these early cats did not boast the beautiful red self-colour of today’s long-hairs. There are also cream, smoke and blue smoke long-haired varieties; the Smoke looks almost black and it is only when the cat moves that the white undercoat is detected. The blue smoke also has a white undercoat, the blue colour taking the place of the black, while the cream is pure self-coloured.

Not sure if the cat in the video is the real breed or not!