Every breed of cat is unique, even ones that are descended from other breeds.
If you are interested in getting a cat, you should be aware of your options.
History of Cat Breeds
Most cats haven’t really changed all that much over the years in terms of their genetics. These animals have never been bred for physical tasks like dogs, which means their differences tend to be less conspicuous.
Today there are over 100 different cat breeds throughout the world. The domestic cat’s ancestry can be traced back to the wildcat, which lived in parts of Asia.
While it unclear when humans started caring for cats, many historians believe that it started about 5,000 years ago. In that time, cats have been introduced to all different places around the world.
Cat Breed Organizations
The number of cat breeds ultimately comes down to the source you use. Each organization has their own set of specific standards for which breeds they recognize.
Cat Fanciers Association (CFA)
The Cat Fanciers Association or CFA recognizes 42 distinct breeds. Some of these cat breeds include American Curl, Balinese, Chartreux, Maine Coon Cat, Ragdoll, Siberian, and Turkish Van.
The various classes of cat breeds recognized by the CFA include:
- Kitten: In order for a cat to be officially classified as a kitten, it must be between the ages of four and eight months old.
- Championship: These breeds have “unaltered pedigrees” and must be over eight months old. They are entered into competitions with other cats of the same class.
- Premiership: Cats that are used for Premiership competitions have an “altered pedigree” and are older than eight months old.
- Veteran: Veteran competition cats can have an altered or unaltered pedigree. They must be over the age of seven years old.
- Household pet: Cats that are entered into Household Pet competitions are non-pedigreed and must be over the age of four months old. They cannot be declawed and must be neutered or spayed if they are older than eight months old.
- Miscellaneous: These cats are non-pedigreed cats that are older than four months old.
- Provisional: Provisional competition is the next step required for Miscellaneous breeds to get full recognition by the CFA.
The International Cat Association (TICA)
TICA recognizes a total of 71 cat breeds. They only have four classes, including:
- Championship: These cats are required to be at least eight months old and can be male or female. Any cats under this age are ineligible for earning any titles, but they can compete in official TICA shows. An overwhelming majority of breeds recognized fall into this category.
- Non-championship: There are also non-championship cats, which are basically just household pets. These cats earn titles to compete in TICA shows, but they cannot earn any titles.
- Advanced New Breeds: This category is the second level of the Championship Advancement Class Program. These cats can perform in shows, but they do not earn titles or points for awards.
- Preliminary New Breeds: This category is the starting level of the Championship Advancement Class Program. All of these breeds can show in TICA shows, but they also do not earn titles or points.
It is certainly possible that new breeds are going to be recognized in the future, but it probably won’t happen anytime soon. Within the last several years, only five new cat breeds have been recognized by the CFA. This organization has strict guidelines when it comes to this.
The CFA more specifically required a full understanding of a cat’s genetic traits before accepting any new breeds. These strict standards are in place to ensure healthy breeds that are not predisposed to various genetic conditions.
Most Common Cat Breeds
There are definitely certain cat breeds that are more popular than others, though this varies depending on geographic location.
Some of the most popular breeds in America include:
- Abyssinian: The Abyssinian is a favorite breed of people in North America. It is known for being extremely intelligent as well as fiercely loyal to its owners.
- American Shorthair: This cat is another common breed that is known for their pleasant and affectionate demeanor. One of the reasons it has become so popular is because it is very low maintenance.
- Maine Coon: The Maine Coon is a long haired breed that is exceptionally smart and can be trained quite easily. Some people refer to this breed as the “dog of cats” because of their uncanny canine traits.
- Persian: The Persian cat is a high maintenance cat due to its incredibly long cat. These cats have a very tranquil temperament and calm demeanor. You won’t find them jumping all over the place like so many other breeds.
- Ragdoll: The Ragdoll is a big cat that can also act similar to a dog. It is very playful and characterized by a gorgeous bi-color pattern.
If you are unsure which breed your cat is, there are a few key characteristics to pay attention to. This includes the length of the cat’s coat. A vast majority of cats are either domestic long hairs or domestic short hairs.
You should also take the pattern of the cat’s fur into consideration. Most cats tend to have fairly distinct patterns. This is probably the easiest way to narrow down your cat to a specific breed.
- There are numerous cat organizations that each have their own guidelines for recognizing cat breeds.
- The Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) is one of the largest cat organizations in North America. They recognize a total of 42 breeds in a variety of categories.
- It is likely that new breeds will be recognized by various organizations in the future, but it’s not something that happens often.
- You can most likely identify your cat’s particular breed by looking at the length of their coat and the color pattern.
- While many breeds share certain things in common, each one is unique in a number of ways.