If you’re thinking about taking in a new cat or you want to impress your loved one with the perfect combination of fur and fun, you may have a little trouble deciding amongst the tens of breeds available out there. Aside from the combinations performed by professional breeders, nature has done her own genetic experiments and so an exhaustive list would be very long. Therefore, if your purpose is to eventually pick a cat of a certain breed, your question should be how many recognized breeds of cats are there?
We’re pretty sure you won’t be happy with the answer, because there isn’t an exact one. It depends on who recognizes them. Just like the geographical states or cult movies, the total number of cat breeds depends on who does the counting. There are several international organizations, each one with their own list of recognized breeds. What constitutes just one breed on a list might appear as two separate breeds in another, so a definite answer is impossible.
However, any official breed registry will have one thing in common: pedigree. This means that the individuals pertaining to the each listed breed have a pair of common ancestors, and their ancestry can be verified according to a long and complicated family tree. Just like in the case of humans, a cat belonging to a certain breed will display a suite of characteristics that make it recognisable.
So how do cat breeds appear?
Unless you are ready to embrace the possibility that cats are the real creators of the Universe and everything in it, the answer can only be that they first appeared naturally and developed different characteristics following the requirements of their geographical environment. Some of the most known natural breeds of cats are the Abyssinian cat, British shorthair, the Egyptian Mau, Russian Blue, Turkish Angora, Norwegian forest cat or the Maine Coon.
Later on, the desire of combining some of these characteristics, or extracting them has made breeders intercross natural occurring breeds with each other or with domestic cats, thus establishing new breeds. Other cat breeds were created by isolating a certain abnormality, like the length of the feet or the shape of the ears, and replicating it by special breeding.
However, in order to protect cats who have been “engineered” in order to have a certain look, given that some combinations of traits are dangerous for the animals, making their daily life miserable, cat fanciers organizations are very strict when it comes to recognizing cat breeds.
These are the main reasons for which you will find that while The Cat Fanciers’ Association currently recognizes 42 breeds of cats, The international Cats Association does so for 71 breeds of cats, the Fédération Internationale Féline recognizes 48 official breeds. With detailed standards concerning both the physical traits of the cats, such as their fur length, shape of the ears and face, the length of their feet and tails, and so on, each organization has basically created its own taxonomy. To be fair, as long as they are pure and verifiable by pedigree, major breeds appear in all registries.
What cat breed is right for me?
To find out the answer to this question, we suggest you first think about the reasons you want to get a cat for. Are you looking just for company, do you want a cat that entertains you with her energy, or maybe your purpose is to show her in cat competitions? Basically, what you need to first decide upon are the traits that you want your cat to have.
However, choosing a cat should also be an exercise of empathy. Taking in a cat who would be uncomfortable and suffer in the environment you can provide would be cruel. This is why, if you live in a small space, you should look for breeds that are petite, and that don’t require much space.
If you have enough indoor room or even a garden, a large-sized breed would feel comfortable, but there would be other characteristics you need to consider, like the climalite of your location, their grooming needs and how well you can address them, if you have other pets that they will have to cohabit with, and how much private space they can have.
Going through the traits of different breeds, you will find that most of them are described as having a more or less friendly personality, a bigger or smaller inclination to engage with children and so on. While it does provide you with a general idea about the breed, keep in mind that genes have a limited influence, while education and the environment in which a kitten was raised are also very important factors in determining how friendly and loving a cat becomes.
And even if you do come across a cat that doesn’t seem to fit its breed advertised personality traits, abandonment is not a solution. A cat is a distinct individual who, with a little patience, can be taught to respond to the care and attention it is given.
What is the largest breed of domestic cat?
Seeing that you have enough space to accommodate a large-sized cat, you may wonder which are the largest ones you can get. A simple internet search will come up with approximately the same results for a few pages, and they are Maine Coon, Savannah, Chausie, Ragdoll, Ragamuffin, Norwegian Forest Cat, Siberian, American Bobtail, Egyptian Mau, Burmese, Persian, Siberian, British Shorthair, Turkish Van, Bengal, Pixiebob, and others, depending on the length of the list and the main criteria: length of weight.
As these measurements usually depend on the gender of the cat and of its genes (especially when it comes to hybrids), we will present our top three largest cats, that are also known for their friendliness and their ability to cohabit with other pets and which aren’t prohibited by the law in any state.
The Maine Coon, who is commonly agreed upon as the largest breed of cat, is native to North America. This breed of cats displays the thick coat proper to the animals genetically gifted for surviving harsh winters, large paws and tufted ears and paws, as well as an impressive furry, long tail. Maine Coon cats have held the last three records for the Longest domestic cat in the Guiness Book of World Records.
The Maine Coon is not just beautiful, it is also a great choice when it comes to friendliness and companionship for other pets. Our favorite of the Maine Coon’s numerous traits, though, is that they love water and bathing.
The Ragdoll is a large cat breed originating from California, and has been around since the ‘60. While it is similarly large to the Maine Coon, the Ragdoll is mostly advertised as an indoor cat because of its exaggeratedly human trusting character and also its love for slow-paced activities on the ground rather to athletic jumps on trees, fences or other adventurous locations.
Ragdoll cats have been called “perfect companions” because they are very sweet, loyal cats, who like to be near their owner at all times. Even though they seem to leave not much room for privacy and despite their fluffy appearance, Ragdolls are fairly easy to care for: their coat has only two layers, making it easy to groom, and they have a very trainable nature.
The British Short Hair, as their name gives it away, have short fur, being thus easier to groom. The males can reach up to 18 lbs, which puts them into the large category of cat breeds, but like we stated before, there is a notable size difference between the males and females of the breed, as well as potential differences caused by their lineage.
The British Short Hair is a somewhat talkative cat, known for its affection towards humans and its warm approach towards other pets, even the most unconventional ones. They are very suited to be indoor cats, since they don’t enjoy wasting too much energy, which is quite ironic since, according to the FCA, their first prizes in competitions were won due to their hunting skills.
What is the smallest cat breed that you can own?
Logically, the majority of cat breeds are classified as medium. Medium sized cats don’t necessarily take up a lot of space, so if your living area is limited, you don’t have to look specifically for a small cat breed. However, in the spirit of symmetry, here are our two favorite small cat breeds that you can accommodate in your home:
The Singapura is a small-breed cat who can weigh between 4 and 8 lbs. They come from Singapore, just as their name tells you, and their most important characteristics, aside from their size are their high energy, curiousness and intelligence. The appearance of the singapura cat is also quite noticeable, with its short coat, large almond-shaped eyes and ears. It is very communicative and has a particularly kitten-like voice. If your place is small and you are considering getting a Singapura, you should keep in mind that they love high refuges, so you should make climbable spaces available for her.
The Kinkalow is the result of crossing the Munchkin (short-legged breed of cat) with the American Curl (their ears tips are curled back). Being quite recent, the breed doesn’t appear in a lot of registries, but is advertised by owners as a very intelligent and loving type of cat. In spite of their tiny legs, the Kinkalows are great companions for playing, having lots of energy. Their coat can vary in length and thickness, but they are usually pretty easy to groom. A possible downside may be the fact that their body conformation – short legs and long body – along with their size can require a lot more attention, for example, if you’re bed is high or if you have stairs in your house you will have to do some lifting.
What is the best breed of cat?
If you’re still asking this, it means you should carefully go read this article from the top. All breeds are equally good, they are just more or less fit for some owners. Before you can tell if a certain breed is good for you, you should know exactly what you have to offer in terms of environment, time, energy and money. It would be great if one shouldn’t have to consider that last element, but if you want a large-sized cat breed, you must be prepared to feed it as it requires to be fed.
In what personality is concerned, while you will find a lot of long lists talking about the friendliest cat breeds that will only raise more questions, you should consider better asking several breeders. Having had raised the cats or knowing the personality and temperament of their parents, professional breeders are the most likely to help you if you need a certain trait.
A plea for the moggy
Worldwide, there are millions of cats abandoned each year. Many of them haven’t been neutered and so they breed in the wild, resulting in an even greater number of stray cats who fight for survival in what is a cruel world even for humans.
Out of these millions, some enter public shelters, where if they are lucky enough, they get adopted from, but where most of them just get food and little medical care, if any, until they are put to sleep.
The moggy, as some of us call the stray cats that roam our streets, can come in a wide variety of shape, size and coat pattern. They have exceptional health, since they come from a wide pool of genes, unlike the rare breeds. Variable also in personality traits, the common household cats are very smart and very adaptable. Visiting the local shelter or taking in that hungry cat you see every day on your street might just be the chance to get a friend for life.