Cats have lived with humans throughout most of civilization, but it is only in the last hundred years or so that they have been specifically selected and mated to produce distinct breeds.
Unlike dogs, which have evolved over thousands of years and have been bred for almost as long as hunting, with correspondingly wide differences in size, shape and character, domestic cat breeds cover a much narrower range of size and conformation, coat type and other characteristics.
What is a Pedigree?
For a cat to be described as a pedigree simply means that its parents have been known and traced back over several generations, and that a written record has been made of this ancestry. A Persian cat of immaculate Persian ancestry could be mated to an equally purebred Siamese. The resulting kittens would be pedigrees, but they would not be classified as a new Persian/Siamese breed until consistent and healthy litters had been produced for a number of generations (the number may be three or more, depending on the rules and standards of the registering body). Until breed status is attained, purebred cats can only be shown in an “any other variety” category, if at all.
How the many breeds are classified varies with individual cat fanciers, even those in the same country. Some of the cats featured in this website are considered to be different breeds in some countries, but as color varieties of the same breed in others. Within the Persian or Siamese breeds are established colors or coat patterns that may have gained official recognition as breeds in their own right, such as the Black Persian or Seal Point Siamese, while the Silver shaded Burmilla is simply a color variety of the Burmilla breed.
Some breeds or varieties have identical ancestry but have different names or classifications in United Kingdom, continental Europe and the United States – the British Tabby Point Balinese is equivalent to the American Lynx Point Javanese, while the continental Europeans give the name Javanese to the British Angora! Others, such as the Tiffany/Tiffanie have similar names but are unrelated. Attention has been drawn to such anomalies where appropriate. If it all seems rather confusing, do not worry. More important is to look through this whole website to see the wonderful range of cats available. We highlight the essential features and characteristics of each breed or variety, so that you can find the one that appeals to you and that is compatible with your own lifestyle and personality.
The Fur Factor
We have divided the cat types into Longhair (Persian), Semi-Longhair, and Shorthair groups, although for judging purposes, longhairs and semi-longhairs are often combines. Longhaired cats of Persian type are more demanding as far as grooming is concerned; their long, soft hair needs to be regularly combed and brushed by the owner. However, all the Persians are placid, dignified animals, very glamorous, and well suited to a predominantly or wholly indoor life. Most of the shorthaired cats, on the other hand, need little help or no help with grooming unless they are going to a show. They tend to be more active and playful by nature than the Persians, and need an owner and lifestyle to match.
Lilac Tortie Point BalineseSemi-longhaired cats cover the middle ground between these two extremes, in that their coats need some attention, but not as much as the longhairs. Their personalities depend on their ancestry. Some are longhaired versions of shorthaired breeds, such as the Somali (a semi-longhaired Abyssinian), which has the energetic and playful characteristics of its Abyssinian parentage. Norwegian Forest and Maine Coon breeds have the cold weather coats and outdoors personalities of their tough, working domestic ancestors.
Within each grouping, the breeds and varieties are listed in order of importance, relating to how long they have been established and how well known they are. Some, such as the Exotic Shorthair (Exotic) are strategically placed because of their relationship to other breeds; in this case, the Exotic is a shorthair of Persian type and is found at the beginning of the Shorthair section.
Gene pool Benefits
The great advantage of having a pedigreed and recognized breed is that the outcome of a purebred is mating is predictable. Although, depending on the make-up of the ancestral gene pool, there may be color variations within a litter, the type will be consistent. If you decide to breed from your Maine Coon Cat, you will have Maine Coon kittens. The outcome of a domestic non-pedigreed mating is more of a lottery. The individual breeds and varieties are described according to the ideal standards of perfection set by the various cat fanciers.
Black Tortie Tabby SphynxAgain, these vary from country to country. An American cat fancy, for example, may prefer a tortoiseshell to have well defined patches of color, whereas a European equivalent may like to colors to mingle. Such details are important if you wish to show your cat successfully, and to know what the ideal is may help you select a kitten from a litter. However, many a purebred cat falls short of the official view of perfection, but may still have much of the beauty, grace and temperament of its ancestral heritage.