When it comes to selecting a cat to make a member of your household, the first decision is whether you want a pedigree cat or a non-pedigree cat. There are pros and cons for both sides of the decision and which you choose is a personal one. However, if you decide that you want to invest some money in a pedigree cat, then understanding the basics of cat breeds is important to help you choose the right breed of cats.
Why is this, you may ask? Firstly, different breeds come with different personality traits, requirements and also price tags. Some breeds of cats aren’t suitable where there are young children or other animals while some require time and work to help them maintain their coat.
Some cat breeds general traits can give you an idea, which may be suitable for your home and family, but it always pays to get to know the breeder and spend a little time with your potential new family member beforehand.
Longhaired or shorthaired?
The main two categories of cat breeds are longhaired and shorthaired and the names are self-explanatory. Longhaired cats are breeds such as the Persian that have long coats, which look very luxurious and beautiful but also need help to maintain. Shorthaired cats have much shorter coats and can usually maintain them without much human assistance.
There is also a third category of coat that is less common and perhaps more of a specialist taste – hairless cats. These range from the completely bald to cats with a fine fuzzy coat that is often referred to as velour or velvet. These breeds need some special care in extremes of weather as their coat offers little protection and may need some grooming assistance to avoid natural oils building up on their skin.
Contrary to some stories, hairless cats are not hypoallergenic – there is no guarantee that a hairless cat will not trigger someone with a cat hair allergy. They still produce substances from their skin that are the most common cause of cat allergies, so someone who is allergic to a longhaired cat is just as likely to be allergic to a hairless cat.
Some breeds of cat that are recognisable even to someone haven’t owned or lived with a cat before. Cats such as Siamese and Persians are recognisable to almost everyone but they are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the breeds of cat currently available. Some are far more popular than others while some need human help simply to continue to exist.
One category of breeds that may not be for everyone but are certainly interesting are the hybrids. These are cats that feature a wild ancestor not too far back in their family tree and often retain much of the looks of these wild cats. One of the most popular of these is the Bengal, the result of a crossing of a domestic cat with an Asian Leopard Cat. This is a domestic cat that has the spots and rosettes on its coat of the wild cat but once more than four generations removed from the wild ancestor, makes for a gentle and loving pet.
Crossbreed cats are still classed as pedigrees when certain crossings occur and have given rise to a range of different breeds. One example of these is the Exotic Shorthair, the result of a crossing of a Persian with an American Shorthair. The result is a cat that has the squashed face cuteness of the Persian but a short coat. These cats are very much like the Persians in their temperament and have inherited some of their health issues but don’t need the grooming that longhaired cats require.
Mutations are a category of breeds that have naturally occurred then been specifically bred by cat breeders to retain those mutation traits. The Somali is such a breed, a naturally occurring longhaired Abyssinian cat that first occurred in litters in the 1940s and has been worked with by breeders since to establish a formal breed.
Longhaired or shorthaired, hybrid or mutation, every cat is its own person and information about personality and temperament can only ever be a guide. Just as no human ever conformed exactly to a stereotype, no cat ever complies completely with a cat breed general standard. But by using these standards, you can get an idea what cats may be worth considering as a perfect match for your family and set about finding the perfect version of that breed to take home.