Cat breeds and physical characteristics:

Development of breeds
Feline personality types
Physical characteristics
Learning requirements

Compare the development of cat breeds to that of dog breeds.  What percentage of cats in the U.S. are registered breeds?
Compared to other species the cat is quite uniform in appearance. Because cats were not used for a great variety of human endeavors (compared to the dog or horse) there was not as much interest in developing cats of different sizes, appearances or abilities. Various "natural" types of cats developed from mutations and became common through interbreeding (without intervention by humans) in specific area. Examples include the tailless Manx cat , from the Island of Man and polydactyl (many digits/toes) cats in New England. There are a few cats that have long histories of careful breeding for specific characteristics, including the Abyssinian, Angora and Siamese. Within the past 40 years dozens of new breeds have been developed. Only about 7 % of the cats in the U.S. are pure breeds.

List 3 methods of development of modern breeds.
1. Some new breeds, such as the Bombay, have been created by deliberate successive matings of established breeds. The Bombay was developed by mating Burmese cats with black American Shorthairs. When enough of the "new cats" with the unique characteristics of the Bombay were produced to interbreed (and pass their characteristics consistently to their offspring) a new breed was then established.

2. Blending of many established breeds.The bloodlines of eight different breeds have been blended to create a unique appearing cat, the California Spangled.

3. New breeds have also been established when an unusual mutation is recognized in a particular kitten or litter. Through careful line breeding of the mutated cat its’ unique characteristic(s) can be perpetuated and fixed in future generations. The American Wirehair and American Curl were established like this.

One breed the Bengal was developed by crossing wild Asian Leopard cats with domestic cats, then "diluting" this first generation by crossing again with domestic cats.

Do different breeds of cats have variation in behavior and personality?
It is evident that physical characteristics are genetically controlled and unique to certain breeds, but what about behavioral traits? An animal’s personality is formed by both experience and genetic make up. Cats’ behavioral characteristics have not been studied as extensively as dogs, but most experts agree on the following: Siamese and Oriental Shorthairs are usually extroverted, active, vocal and may not interact well with new cats (or other cats) in the household.
Persians and other long hairs are often quiet, less active and less affectionate than their shorthaired counterparts, but they usually get along better with other cats. Fanciers of some of the new breeds often emphasize a particular behavioral characteristic, such as the exceptionally calm and loving disposition of the Tonkinese and the Ragdoll.

Do cats have "personality types"?
Different researchers have characterized three basic types of feline personality:
1. the friendly, trusting cat
the shy, fearful cat
3. the active, aggressive cat
These characteristics have a strong genetic component (nature) and probably can not be changed greatly by human intervention (nurture).

How can cats physical characteristics be classified?
To those who are not cat fanciers it can be difficult to recognize one breed from another. Several physical characteristics will be helpful in classification of the various breeds, including:

1) size: small ~ 5-8 pounds, medium 9-12 pounds, large 12 pounds +
2) body type: cobby (square), semi cobby (intermediate) and tubular (long and lean)
3) head type: triangular, round or intermediate
4) coat length or character: hairless, short hair, semi-long hair, long hair and wavy
5) coat color and pattern: various
6) eyes (color and shape): round, oval

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Oriental(tubular) type cat
oval eyes, short hair 

Persian (cobby) type cat, round eyes, long hair

Which breeds and what information should be learned for testing purposes?

In addition to being able to identify (by using photos) of the breeds listed below the following information will be required:
(1) origins (approximately when it was developed and in what country or region)
(2) primary color or pattern (if applicable)
(3) at least one distinctive characteristic, preferably related to it’s disposition or behavior.
You should be able to identify the basic colors and color patterns of cats listed below. Use the internet links, or books to study the breeds.

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Breeds to know for testing purposes:

§Currently 39 distinct recognized breeds according to CFA

American Shorthair
Maine Coon cat
Persian (realize that the various colors of Persians have their own registries)
Siamese/color point shorthair
Rex  (know that there are three types of Rex cats originating from mutations in various parts of the world.)


Cat Fanciers Association


pointed (as in the Siamese)
tabby (mackerel and classic)

Explanation of cat colors:

§Smoke - Often difficult to tell from solid color kittens except that smokes sometimes have white around the eyes and a paler stomach. May take some months to tell which kittens will be smoke because the full coat color is sometimes not seen until the adult coat comes in at 2 years. Undercoat begins to show at 3 weeks, and by 6-8 weeks have a mottled look.


§Tabby - Markings will show even at birth. Often the darker the stripes at birth, the clearer the adult pattern will be.


§Blue-Cream or Blue? - Kittens with the palest coat often develop into the best blue-cream adults. Often the kitten will look much like a pale blue in the first few weeks. Even a small patch of cream, or just a few hairs of cream, or if the paw pads are mottled blue and cream, will make the cat a blue-cream, not a blue.

§Tortoiseshell or Black? - Even just a small patch of red and/or cream on the cat, or if the cat has mottled black and cream paw pads, will make the cat a tortoiseshsell, not a black.


§Kittens are born creamy white with pink paw pads, noses and ears. Point color gradually develops over the first few weeks. In seal point and blue point, a blob of color first appears on the nose after 10 days, but it may be 3 months before chocolate and lilac points become apparent. Colors may not be fully developed until 1 year.


§Blue Point or Lilac Point? - Check the nose leather and paw pads. A blue point has slate gray, a lilac point has lavender pink.

§Seal Point or Chocolate Point? - Check the nose leather and paw pads. A chocolate point has cinnamon pink, the seal point has sealbrown.

§Seal Point or Tortie Point? - Check the nose leather and paw pads. If they are mottled seal brown and flesh/pink, the cat is a tortie point, not a seal point.

§Blue Point or Bluecream Point? - Check the paw pads and nose leather. If the color is a mottled blue and pink, the cat is a bluecream point, not a blue point.

§Flame Point or Cream Point? - These colors can be very close. There are hot creams and light reds. If both parent cats are definitely dilutes (blue, cream or bluecream), the offspring cannot be a flame point.

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