Cat Breeds and Cat Pictures
The Abyssinian Cat
The first Abyssinian cat known to have been brought out of its natural environment to be a domestic pet in the West was Zula, a female kitten taken from Alexandria to the UK in the 1860s by the British soldier Captain Barrett Leonard. He crossed Zula with a tabby, then bred her with the most Abyssinian looking of her own young to create the breed. By 1871 the breed was recognized and exhibited at the Crystal Palace in London.
Although it is possible that other soldiers may also have brought home cats during the Abyssinian War, it is generally believed that all Abyssinians in Europe, North America and Australia are descended from Zula. The gene pool has been enriched a little in the USA with the import of one or two other Abyssinians from North Africa, where they can still be found living wild in some regions.
The 'Aby', as this breed is popularly known, is now one of the most popular shorthair pedigree breeds of cat in the USA.
The Abyssinian is a medium sized, well shaped shorthaired cat with a princely appearance and a distinctively ticked coat. What this means is that each hair is striped with two different colors alternating in bands from root to tip. The effect is to give the coat a noticeable sparkle, especially when stroked.
The coat is usually a warm tawny color but there are blue and silver variants. The recognized color classifications vary from country to country, but in the US they include red, ruddy, fawn, cream, blue and lilac. To qualify for pedigree status the cat's body must have no tabby markings, although there are usually some on the tail and paws.
Abys have large ears and big almond-shaped eyes. The eyes are green, gold or hazel with a fine dark line around the iris.
Abys are very active, muscular cats whose closeness to their wild ancestors can easily been seen in their temperament and behavior. They are friendly and affectionate and make great pets but usually spend more time playing and exploring than curling up on somebody's knees. Often, they will adopt one person in the family to be their special favorite. It is not necessarily the person who loves them the most!
They like a lot of activity, variety and attention and can become depressed if left shut in a small apartment all day while owners are working. They often enjoy getting up in high places and will climb trees, explore the top of tall furniture and climb onto your shoulders!
Owners describe Abyssinian cats as intelligent and loyal 'people cats'. Many owners would never consider having any other breed of cat.
The American Shorthair Cat
American Shorthair Cat
The American Shorthair cat is believed to be descended from British cats who began emigrating to the New World with the early pioneers. They were carried on board ship to kill the rats that were a constant menace, eating the precious food supplies and spreading disease. History records that cats even came along on the Mayflower.
They were kept and allowed to breed by the early settlers for the same reason, to protect food supplies. Originally they lived mostly as working farm cats, highly valued for their hunting abilities.
In the early 20th century, other breeds of cat began to be imported to the USA as pets. They mixed with the working cats and so kittens were born with different coat lengths and temperaments. At this time, breeders who wished to preserve the original breed began to identify fine examples of what was then called the Domestic Shorthair and breed from them. These breeders have concentrated on maintaining the beauty and affectionate nature of these cats while perfecting their coat patterns and colors. The name was changed to American Shorthair in the 1960s.
The American Shorthair is a medium sized to large cat, with strong hind legs and paws. The muzzle is wider than many other breeds, giving a square look to the face. Males have a pronounced jowl. They are full grown at three or four years old. The coat is thick although a little thinner than the coat of the British shorthair. It thickens in winter and sheds in spring.
There are over 100 recognized varieties of color including black, white, silver, cream, red, brown, blue, tabby, calico or tortoiseshell, and bi-colored cats. Their eyes are round. Eye color, nose and pad depend on the color of the coat. Some varieties may have each eye a different color. The silver tabby is the most popular.
The tail must taper to a blunt tip without any kinks.
The American Shorthair is a gentle, affectionate cat that makes a marvelous pet. They get on well with children and most other pets, being even-tempered and quiet. For that reason they are always one of the most popular breeds of cat. They are easy to train and are also the most popular choice for film and advertising directors when they need a feline star.
American Shorthairs are happy to be either an indoor or an outdoor cat. If allowed outdoors they will indulge their hunting instincts and often bring home their prey.
They are a healthy, long-lived breed with an average lifespan of 15 to 20 years. However, the American Shorthair cat easily gains weight and owners have to be careful not to allow this to endanger their pet's health or happiness.
The Bengal Cat
The Bengal cat is a very distinctive spotted cat. The breed was developed in the USA in the 1960s and 1970s by Mrs Jean Mill, who crossed an Asian Leopard cat with an American Shorthair and continued producing offspring. They are now also produced from crossing an Asian Leopard cat with an Abyssinian, Egyptian Mau or Burmese.
Males in the first three generations are almost always infertile and a cat must be at least four generations from the Asian Leopard cat to be accepted as a Bengal cat. The name comes from the Latin name for the Asian Leopard cat, Prionailurus Bengalensis. It is not related to the Bengal Tiger.
The Bengal cat has been bred to maintain the unique spots and wild appearance together with the gentle temperament of a domestic cat. However, because of its wild ancestry, the breed is not recognized by some associations including the Cat Fanciers' Association. In the UK, until recently owners had to license their cats under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act.
Most Bengal cats are of course very easy to recognize by the leopard-like spots or jaguar-like bi-colored rosettes on their coats. A marbled coat is also acceptable but rosettes are most highly prized. Spots and rosettes only appear on the back and sides of the body. The belly is light-colored or white. The legs, tail and head are striped.
They are medium-sized cats but long-bodied and muscular. In terms of weight they cover the same range as the American Shorthair, but their athletic look makes them appear larger.
The head and face retain the wild or feral look of the Asian Leopard ancestor, with small rounded ears and strong whisker pads. Horizontal stripes beside the eyes cause what is called a mascara effect.
Bengal cats are affectionate and friendly, often following you around the house, but generally are not lap cats. They are active cats who enjoy play, and will prefer to be played with than held. To create a bond with a Bengal kitten, simply play with it for half an hour to an hour a couple of times a day.
They are intelligent, teachable cats and the best way to train them is through play. They are often described as having a 'dog-like' personality. They will often welcome you home with enthusiasm and you may be able to teach your Bengal to fetch objects, sit and shake hands. Once bonded, an indoor Bengal cat can be taught to walk on a leash outside.
Bengals should not be left alone in the house all day, because they will become bored and possibly destructive. They may enjoy the company of another active cat although they can become jealous if another cat appears to be taking their place in the house or if they are not getting enough attention.
Unlike other cats, many Bengals love water, especially running water. They will happily play with a running faucet and may even jump into the tub to do this.
Most owners find the Bengal cat a unique and very enjoyable pet.
The Bombay Cat
The Bombay cat was developed as a breed in Louisville, Kentucky in the 1950s by Nikki Horner of Shawnee Cattery. She began by crossing a black American Shorthair with a sable Burmese. She continued selective breeding to create an identifiable and consistent breed with the black color of the American Shorthair and body type of the Burmese. The new breed was accepted for championship status by the Cat Fanciers' Association in 1976.
Nikki Horner's aim was to create a 'baby panther' breed of cat that would resemble a miniature version of the black leopard, popularly known as the black panther, which is a native species of India. This accounts for the breed being named after the Indian city of Bombay (modern Mumbai).
It is still permitted to add to the gene pool and outcross the breed by mixing in a pedigree black American Shorthair or sable Burmese, but most Bombays these days are bred from within the breed.
Sable kittens still appear in some litters but are not acceptable for showing. Because of the cross-breeding, even many of the black cats in a litter will not be acceptable for showing for one reason or another, but they all make great pets.
There is also a UK breed of cat called the Bombay but it is not the same.
Bombay cats can look small but they are strong and very agile. Their muscular body means that they often weigh more than you expect.
The coat is black throughout, right to the roots. The coat lies tight to the body and has a glossy satin sheen which is often described as looking like patent leather. The Bombay is a short-haired cat that does not require grooming.
Eyes are big and golden or copper-colored like a shiny penny. Copper is more highly prized and creates a unique and very striking contrast with the jet black coat. The eyes are round and set wide in a wide face with a short, tapered muzzle. Ears are medium-sized, wide and slightly rounded. Nose and paw pads are also black.
Bombay cats are intelligent and affectionate. They are easily trained to walk on a leash and fetch objects, like a dog. They are alert and agile and often delight their owners with their graceful antics.
They retain the affectionate disposition of both of their ancestral breeds and most Bombays love to be held or carried around, often on their owners' shoulders. They enjoy being with people, even strangers, and will not run and hide when company arrives like many other cats. They also get on well with children and dogs.
The stunning looking Bombay cat is the ideal pet for any owner looking for a jet black pedigree pet.
The Burmese Cat
The first Burmese cat to be brought to the USA was Wong Mau, who was brought from Burma by Dr Joseph Cressman Thompson of San Francisco in 1930. While the authorities at first considered Wong Mau be a brown variant of the Siamese breed, Dr Thompson viewed her distinct build as an indication that she was a different breed. Since there were no other cats like her in the USA she was bred with a sealpoint Siamese and then with one of her sons to produce dark brown kittens. Burmese was accepted as a breed by the Cat Fanciers' Association in 1936.
Other colors began to appear but were not at first accepted, with brown (sable) being the only recognized color for many years. Blue, champagne and platinum are now also recognized.
Many Burmese cats in North America today carry a recessive gene for what is known as the 'Burmese head fault' inherited from a prolific ancestor called Good Fortune Fortunatus. This causes a fatal defect in the head formation of affected kittens, who have to be euthanized. It is hoped that genetic screening will enable this to be bred out.
In the UK, the breed was built up from cats brought home from Burma by returning soldiers in the 1940s. The gene pool was enriched by Burmese cats imported from Canada in the late 1960s. Nevertheless the British variety of Burmese retains a different, more oriental look and a greater variety of accepted colors, including cream and several tortoiseshell shades.
The Burmese is a medium sized cat with a muscular, compact body.
The coat is short and sleek. The color gradually lightens from the back to the underside. There should be no bars or spots. No grooming is required.
Eye color is gold or yellow, although the Siamese ancestry sometimes produces blue or green eyes.
The American Burmese has a short, wide-cheeked face with a 'pug-like' look to the muzzle. However, in the British variety this look is seen as a sign of Siamese heritage and is viewed very negatively. At the same time, the 'traditional' British Burmese is not accepted in the US. Therefore the two types of Burmese are rarely crossed these days, as breeders in each line try to 'breed out' the characteristics of the other.
Burmese are friendly cats toward humans, although they do not shrink from a fight with other cats if provoked and can defend themselves well against larger cats. They enjoy being with people and will usually stay close to people in the house. They will try to get involved in what you are doing, for example sitting on your computer keyboard and sleeping very close to you at night.
They are athletic and playful and will often continue to play like kittens through their adult life. They adapt well to large, noisy households.
Like the Siamese they are vocal, but they have softer voices that many people prefer. A Burmese cat will often call to its owners, using its voice to get attention.
The Egyptian Mau Cat
Egyptian Mau Cat
The Egyptian Mau cat is the only naturally spotted breed. Its spots are believed to have come from natural interbreeding with wild cats many centuries ago. Spotted cats are shown in many ancient Egyptian wall paintings and may have had special privileges. Cats were highly valued in ancient Egypt, sometimes even worshipped as deities, and were often mummified like people upon their death.
The first Egyptian Mau is believed to have come to the West with the Egyptian Ambassador to Italy in the 1950s. The Russian Princess Natalie Troubetskoy, living in exile in Italy, was charmed by the Ambassador's distinctive spotted pet and persuaded him to get several similar cats for her, which she began to breed.
The name 'mau' comes from the Egyptian word for cat.
The Egyptian Mau's characteristic spots are not only on the hairs of the coat but are also visible in the skin pigmentation if the cat is shaved. Bengals and other spotted breeds have been crossed with wild cats or selectively bred to achieve their coat.
Egyptian Maus carry a distinctive M or scarab beetle shaped mark on the forehead. They also have some anatomical differences which cause some people to consider them to be biologically distinct from other cats, possibly forming an evolutionary link between wild cats and other modern domestic breeds.
Their hind legs are longer than their front legs, giving them more acceleration and power when running than most cats. They also have a loose flap of skin on the abdomen which helps them stretch out further with each stride in the way that a cheetah does. This flap also contributes to their amazing speed. They have been recorded running over 30 miles per hour.
Acceptable colors are silver, bronze and smoke. Black and blue/pewter coats also occur but are not recognized. Eyes must be green, although some kittens are born with an amber shade to their eyes which becomes more green as they develop. The eyes are large and slightly slanted. Ears are medium sized and may be tufted.
Maus can have very musical voices, making different sounds that can sound like chirping or almost singing.
They are very sensitive to temperature and like to live in a warm environment.
Some Maus also have a habit of wiggling their tail, moving the hind legs up and down as if spraying to mark territory, without actually releasing urine. This is a sign of a happy cat.
They are fond of their owners and very loyal, but can play rough with scratching and biting.
The Himalayan Cat
The Himalayan cat was produced by crossing a Persian cat with a Siamese to get the Siamese color points, then breeding back with Persians to maintain the look and luxurious long hair of the Persian. It is believed that the breed was first developed by a British man, Brian Stirling-Webb, in the 1950s.
Some cat associations including all associations in the UK do not recognize Himalayans as a separate breed but classify them as color-pointed Persians.
The name comes from a resemblance to the color-pointing found on rabbits in the Himalayan mountains. The cats themselves have no connection with the Himalayan region.
Himalayans resemble Persians in appearance, except for their color. They are stunning cats with a long fluffy coat and beautiful color pointing. The hair can be up to 7 inches long. The body is white or cream and there are many shades of point color including chocolate, blue, brown, red, lilac, tortoiseshell or tabby. Chocolate and blue pointed Himalayans are the most difficult to produce because they can only be born of parents who both carry the necessary color gene.
They have heavy bodies with broad shoulders and hips and short legs. This coupled with their long hair means that their belly appears very close to the ground when they walk. Point color is limited to the face, ears, legs and tail.
They have large round blue eyes and short, cute pansy-like faces. In many cats the nose is almost directly between the eyes.
Temperament and care
Himalayan cats are friendly creatures, liking to stay close to their owners and always wanting to get involved with what you are doing. They have a sweet, melodious voice. It is said that once you have a Himalayan you will not be able to resist them, and most 'Himmy' owning households contain more than one.
Due to their inbreeding, pedigree Himalayans have some tendencies to genetic disorders. These can include problems with joints, genetic abnormalities and polycystic kidney disease. They are also more prone to hairballs than other breeds.
Himalayans requiring a great deal of grooming, although it is said that they are easier to groom than Persians because the Siamese influence makes their top coat a little more silky and their undercoat less woolly than the Persian. This prevents the coat of the Himalayan cat from matting so easily.
The coat should be brushed daily and many cats also require daily wiping of the face. You will need a bristle brush and a wide toothed comb for the coat, plus a narrow toothed comb for the face and ears. Some breeders recommend bathing a Himalayan cat regularly to reduce oil on the coat.
The Maine Coon Cat
Maine Coon Cat
The Maine Coon is the United States' only native long-haired cat. The origins of the breed are not precisely known.
One legend has it that the breed is descended from the long-haired cats belonging to the French queen Marie-Antoinette who were sent to the USA during the French Revolution for their safety, and who then mated with the local cats. Another story is that the Maine Coon is the result of interbreeding between cats and racoons. This is biologically impossible but the story may have led to the cats being named as they are.
The most likely answer is that the breed formed in the USA from a few imported longhaired cats mating with the local shorthairs, with natural selection promoting the continuation of the longhaired breed in the cold New England winters. Like American Shorthairs, they were prized for their hunting abilities and were kept in order to control the mouse population.
The Maine Coon is probably the largest pedigree breed of domestic cat, often called the 'gentle giant' of the cat world. Males can often weigh over 20 pounds and may grow to over 40 inches long.
The coat is shorter on the shoulders and longer on the belly and tail. There is a ruff or 'beard' of hair below the head, resembling a lion's mane. They also have longer hair on the backs of their legs. The coat is shaggy, water resistant and easily groomed. They generally keep their fur in order themselves with only occasional help from owners.
The Maine Coon comes in many colors including shades of tabby, bi-color, black, red, white and tortoiseshell. Eyes are usually green, hazel or gold-colored although white cats may have blue eyes or one blue and one gold.
The face is large and angular with a clear M shape on the forehead. The ears are often tufted. They have a genetic tendency to have extra toes and, more seriously, heart disease, but breeders are attempting to eliminate the genes that cause these problems.
The Maine Coon has a graceful, dignified walk that always attracts attention and admiration.
Maine Coons are intelligent cats with a gentle disposition. They enjoy the company of people as well as getting along well with other pets. They are not lap cats, possibly being too big to be comfortable in that position, but they enjoy play and can be trained to fetch toys like a dog. Unlike many cats they usually prefer to eat in company, either with humans around or with other cats.
They are clever at using their paws and will often learn to open closet doors and turn on faucets, as well as picking things up with their paws. They can be mischievous, knocking things over or pushing objects off table tops. They often play with the water in their bowls and some Maine Coons will drink from their cupped paws instead of directly from the bowl. They may also dip toys or food into their water bowl or overturn the water onto the floor.
The Maine Coon cat has a trilling voice that is between a purr and meow, and will make this sound if surprised or contented.
The Persian Cat
The Persian cat gets its name from the longhaired cats brought to Europe from the Iranian plateau (formerly Persia) by traders in the 17th century. However, other longhaired cats called Angoras were brought from Turkey, and it is likely that there was some interbreeding with these and domestic longhairs. How much similarity there is between the Persian cats as we know it today and those first cats brought to Europe by travellers, is unknown.
It is well known that Persians were the favorite pampered feline pet of European royalty. They are now consistently the most popular breed of cat in the USA.
Even non-cat lovers can usually recognize the long-haired Persian, probably the best known of cat breeds. Most people think of white cats with thick, luxurious long hair when they hear the word 'Persian' but the coat comes in many colors including blue, silver, smoke, black, red, tortoiseshell and tabby. Color-pointed Persians resulting from a Siamese cross in the ancestry are known as Himalayans in the USA and form a separate breed. Cats with a tipped coat are Chinchillas. The bushy tail may be almost as wide as the body.
The Persian cat is heavily built with solid bones, a broad back and short legs. The long hair gives the effect of an even larger body, but most cats are surprisingly agile, provided they are not allowed to become overweight.
The head is wide with the ears set far apart. Eyes are large and round, and come in many colors depending on the coat color. The muzzle is foreshortened, giving the face a pansy-like or pug-like appearance. Cats with almost non-existent muzzles are prized by some people but inbreeding has led to health problems, especially in the respiratory system. Many breeders are now moving toward producing less extreme examples. Cats with a more pronounced muzzle are known as Doll-faced Persians or Traditional Persians.
Temperament And Care
The Persian is known as a placid cat, with a quiet, pleasant voice. Owners consider them to be very communicative. They make great lap cats and are happy to live indoors. They prefer a quiet, secure environment and it may take them some time to feel settled and safe in a new home. Once established they are very affectionate and make marvelous companions.
Persian cats must be given a thorough brushing every day and bathed regularly to maintain their coats. This is not just for appearance but to prevent hairballs and other problems. It gives owners a chance to spend quality time with their pets. Eyes must be checked regularly and may need cleaning. It can be a large commitment to own a Persian cat but they are also very easy to fall in love with!
The Siamese Cat
Cat Litter Boxes
The Siamese cat is one of our oldest recognized breeds of cat. They are believed to have originated in South-East Asia where they were often kept as sacred temple cats. Their Thai name means 'moon diamond'.
Siamese cats were first brought to Europe from Thailand (then called Siam) in the late 19th century, when a gift of cats was made to a returning Ambassador. They soon began appearing at cat shows in the UK, and arrived in the USA in the early 20th century.
Since then the Siamese has been crossed with other cats to form several new breeds including the Balinese, Tonkinese and Himalayan.
The Siamese has a light colored body with darker points on face, ears, paws and tail. This is caused by a genetic abnormality which brings about partial albinism. The pigmentation can only develop on the coolest parts of the body, that is the extremities and the face, which is cooled by the respiratory system and sinuses. For the same reason, Siamese cats living in colder climates will tend to develop a darker body that those living in hot countries.
At birth they are pure white or cream. The pointing develops in the first few weeks of a kitten's life. The rest of the body will slowly darken a little as they age. The color pointing may be seal (most popular), blue, chocolate or lilac.
The almond-shaped eyes of a Siamese are a very striking and vivid blue. A tendency to crossed eyes has been bred out now, except in a few cases. The head is wedge-shaped and the ears are large and set wide.
The body is long, slender and elegant with a sleek short coat and slim tail. No grooming is required. In their native Thailand, many cats have a kink in the tail but this also has been bred out of their Western cousins.
They are affectionate and intelligent cats, full of curiosity. They have a loud and distinctive voice nicknamed 'meezer' that can sound plaintive, like a crying baby. They are great communicators, both with their voice and their body, and are persistent in their demands for attention.
They love to spend time with their owners and they are great lap cats. Their coloring makes them less able to camouflage themselves than many cats, they do not see in the dark so well and they are not so active at night as other breeds. They may also, like many blue-eyed white cats, have a tendency to deafness. These could be some of the reasons for their sociable nature and happy dependence on human beings.
The beauty and elegance of the Siamese cat makes it one of the best known and distinctive breeds.
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