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Beginners Guide to Cat Breeds

Updated on February 15, 2015

If you have decided that the cat is the pet for you and that you want to spend a decent sum of money on buying a pedigree cat, then the next question is what type of cat do you want? There are many breeds that all have different appearances, personalities and availability.

Some breeds are relatively free of health problems and need little maintenance while others can need daily care. Some need human interaction all the time and aren’t suited to be alone all day while you are at work, while others can amuse themselves and be waiting at the door when you come home for a cuddle. Here we look at some of the most popular to help you start your search.

American Shorthair


American Shorthair

The American Shorthair is a cat breed that many people will think of when you say ‘pet cat’. These cats are thought to have descended from the cats brought to North America from Europe aboard the ships where they served as rodent deterrents. In a study in 2012, it is rated as the 7th most popular breed of cat in the US.

The Shorthair has a short length of coat so this means they need little additional maintenance. They are stocky in body shape with males weigh 11-15 pound and females 8-12 pounds when fully grown. There are over 80 different colours and patterns available within the breed from tabbies to solid colours and all the combinations between. The only colours that aren’t accepted for showing are those that indicate cross breeding such as the chocolate, sable, lavender and Lilac from Siamese crosses.

In personality, these cats are easy going, affectionate and very social even with strangers. They take noticed on their surroundings and love to play but also to sit in the lap and make excellent family pets.

Traditional Persian



With their plush longhaired coat and flat face, the Persian is one of the more easily recognisable breeds of cat. It has also been known as a pet since the 1600s when cats were first brought to Europe from Persia and has been recognised by the cat fancy world since the late 19th century. Selective breeding has led to a flatter faced cat but this has also led to a number of associated health problems and some breeders are now concentrating on breeding ‘traditional’ cats that have a more shaped face. The Persian remains the most popular breed in the US but has seen a decline in countries such as Britain and France.

Due to their long coat, these cats needs daily grooming and should also be taught from a young age to be bathed to help maintain their coat and general health. They are very placid cats that can live in a variety of different homes including apartments and small houses but do need company and don’t do well when left alone for long periods of time.

The Persian has also been crossed with other breeds to create new breeds such as the Exotic Shorthair and with the Siamese to create the Himalayan.

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Maine Coon

The Maine Coon is known as the largest breed of domestic cat and as one of the oldest natural breeds in North America as well as being the state cat of Maine. These big cats are thought to have come to the US from Europe as ship’s cats then bred with the native cats already there. They have retained their hunting skills and solid physical appearance from these times along with a thick, longhaired coat suited to colder climates.

These cats are known as ‘gentle giants’ and are both very intelligent and loyal. They can be trained quite easily and remain independent of their owners. They are not lap cats but are very affectionate and playful throughout their lives. They are also quite vocal cats who chatter with their owners and live well with other animals. The Maine Coon is currently the third most popular breed of pet cat in the US.

Maine Coon


The Siamese are another of the most easily recognised breeds of cat with their light coloured body and dark extremities, known as points. These cats are one of a number of breeds to come from Thailand, once Siam, and remain one of the most popular breeds of cat around the world. Like the Persian, they have been selectively bred for a very angular look but some breeders are seeking to return to the more traditional type of Siamese.

As a rule, Siamese are very affectionate and intelligent cats who are sociable in their nature and often said to be extroverts. They need to be around people and often bond strongly with one person in particular. Most are very vocal, known as the loudest of breeds and can be demanding with their calls.

The Siamese has also been the basis for a number of other breeds including:

  • Balinese – natural mutation that has longhair
  • Havana brown – crossing of a Siamese with a black cat
  • Colourpoint Shorthair – Siamese with non-standard point colours
  • Himalayan – crossing with Persian to achieve longhaired pointed cat
  • Ocicat – crossing of a Siamese and an Abyssinian
  • Oriental Shorthair – Siamese cat that doesn’t have points such as tabby pattern or tortoiseshell
  • Snowshoe – cross between a Siamese and an American Shorthair
  • Tonkinese – cross between a Siamese and a Burmese

Talkative Siamese


American Shorthair
Maine Coon
Longhaired breeds tend to need more grooming than shorthair breeds so if time is an issue, then a shorthair breed may be the best consideration


The Manx cat originates from the Isle of Man in the UK and is famous for its lack of tail. However, this isn’t the entire story as the Manx can actually have anything from a small stump to a full-length tail. The reduced tail is caused a genetic mutation and also comes in a longhaired variety known as the Cymric.

Manx cats are very sociable with its owners but can be cautious around strangers. They are very playful cats that can be dog like in some of their behaviours and often follow their owners around the house. They are also known as prodigious hunters and were sought after as mousers by farmers and as ship’s cats, which is thought to be the reason behind their worldwide spread.



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