How Many Different Breeds of Cats Are There?

If you are eager to learn about cat facts, you might want to know just how many cat breeds there are. Recognized cat breeds vary with each reputable cat organization but the number is lower than that of registered canine breeds. 

How many cat breeds are there?


To this day we still hear news of a purebred feline or an experimental purebred cat recognized for the first time.

Various institutions that recognize and oversee the breeding of purebreds have different standards. 

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Several determining factors of a purebred include face shape, body frame, color, temperament, facial characteristics, weight, height, and hereditary risks. These standards are necessary for pedigree cats that enter a competition such as a cat show.

Organizations that recognize pedigrees

There are 40 to 80 different cat breeds recognized by national, regional, and international organizations. The Cat Fanciers Association (CFA), a prominent American cat registry organization listed 44 cat breeds.

Meanwhile, the Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFe) with forty member countries in Europe acknowledges 49 cat breeds in four different categories.

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International cat organizations also have varying views. The World Cat Federation recognizes 40 different cat breeds whereas the International Cat Association (TICA), the largest global genetic registry of pedigree cats accepts 73 cat breeds in its cat shows with six more cat breeds waiting to be established.

A cat breed may be recognized by a local organization but not worldwide. Short-haired and long-haired versions can be listed as one breed or separate depending on the organization’s qualifications. In some associations, a pedigreed cat’s ancestry should also be registered.

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Cats whose lineage cannot be traced from past generations cannot be accepted as purebreds.

Feline organizations also have different processes when accepting new breeds, making sure there is a long-term breeding plan to eliminate breeds that come and go. Each newly recognized breed should also be a valuable addition to the list of recognized cat breeds.

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History and future of cat breeds

Cats proved to be beneficial in our ancient farms. They ate the rodents that found their way in grain stores. By the 19th century, cat aficionados grew in number and so cat breeding commenced. Majority of the cat breeds listed in cat registries were acknowledged in the 1980s and 1990s.

There are little variations between cats today and their ancestors. When we look at the biggest house cat breeds, we can still see the resemblance between modern purebreds and cats in the wild.

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Cat breeders continue to develop new breeds and strive to be considered by a legitimate cat registry organization. In the past five years, both local and international organizations have accepted five new breeds on average.

Some of the recently-accepted breeds include the Khao Manee and Lykoi  which are now listed in the CFA purebreds.

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Caution should be exercised when developing new breeds. Extreme breeders develop hypertype cats often with health consequences. Certain crossbreeds can also carry a higher risk for diseases. Further, where desirable traits are hard to come by, inbreeding may occur. As such, established feline organizations are vital to ensure responsible breeding. 

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Cristina Vulpe is a licensed veterinarian who has been a cat owner since she was 12. She is passionate about giving useful advice to pet owners across the world. Her favorite topics range from pathology and novel therapies to infectious diseases and animal welfare. Her work has been featured in many online publications from The Pet Friendly House to Alpha Paw, Animal Wellness Magazine, and Currently, she is a Pet Content Specialist for IkoBrands.

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