An illustrated guide to selecting, loving, sweet, shy, docile, and caring for the most suitable cat for you and your family.
This article to cats is intended to help you to choose the right cat for you, your family and your lifestyle. Unlikely dogs, cats are all of a similar size, and cost approximately the same to feed. But some longhairs take a long time to groom; other cats need more freedom; and a few are extremely vocal. The good points are listed under each breed, and a ‘take heed’ section warns you of any possible disadvantages.
Some natural mutations have occurred, which are really deformities but have been perpetuated for long enough to become acceptable(e.g., the tailless Manx) or were considered sufficiently attractive to perpetuate from choice (e.g., the Scottish Fold and the Japanese Bobtail in the USA).
All cats are intelligent, loving and companionable. Some are shy, sweet and docile; others are demanding, vocal, active, and sometimes exasperating. Read the section on temperament to make sure you choose a cat that the whole family will enjoy.
There are two extreme body types. One is cobby, low on the leg, broad-shouldered, round-headed, and personified by the Persian and the Exotic shorthair. The other is the svelte, lithe, muscular, small-boned,narrow-headed cat, such as the Siamese and Balinese. All other cats are between these two extremes.
There are five basic coat types:
- Longhair, between 5 and 15cm (2-6in) long, which must have daily grooming. This type has been around for centuries.
- Shorthair, which is much easier to groom, but benefits from lots of hand stroking.This is the oldest known coat type.
- Curly, as in the Devon Rex and the Cornish Rex. (There is also a Si-Rex, which is a Siamese with a curly coat).
- Wirehaired cats were the result of a natural mutation that appeared in 1966.
- Hairless cats are thought attractive in Canada but are hard to get elsewhere. They have been bred since the 1960s.
Having decided which body and coat type you prefer, you must now choose the coat pattern. The possibilities are:
- Self or solid colored, which is the same color from the tips to the roots of the hairs, all over.
- Tipped, where the fur nearest the skin is one color and the ends are another color. Lightly tipped cats are known as Chinchillas, medium tipped ones are shaded, and very heavily tipped ones are smokes.
- Tabby includes four different patterns: Classic tabby has clearly defined markings; Mackerel tabby has vertical stripes down the sides; spotted tabby had broken stripes becoming spots; and Ticked tabby has several bands of color on each hair.
- Van or Piebald pattern is almost white with patches of color(s).
- Bicolor is white with one other color, in defined proportions.
- Particolored cats are of more than one color.
- Himalayan is a well-known coat pattern; the face (mask), ears, legs, and tail are in a contrasting color to the rest of the body.
- Himalayan and White resulted when the white spotting gene was introduced to the Himalayan, and results in white feet.
- Combination coat is any usual coat is any usual coat pattern with white.
- Torbie or Patched tabby is Tabby with Tortoiseshell.
Using today’s knowledge of genetics, we can combine almost and body type with any coat type and any pattern in any color. The basic colors are white, black, blue, red, cream, chocolate, lilac, brown, and varying shades of brown. Eye color usually goes with coat color, but breeders can now produce a different eye color almost to order.
Nomenclature and Classification
The same cats are known by different names in various parts of the world, so we have used the American name first, followed by the others.Longhair cobby cats are known as ‘Persian’ in the USA and as ‘Longhair’ in the UK, and we have called them Persian (Longhair) for the breeds that have been established a long time. New breeds have sometimes been given a new name, although they may have the same standard as the Persian, such as the Color point.Self-coloured Persians (Longhair) are grouped together expect the Self-Chocolate and Self-Lilac, which are called Kashmir in the USA, purely because they appeared during the Color print breeding program. Other colors that appeared at this time were the Chocolate Tortie and the Lilac-cream (strictly speaking, a Lilac Tortie). All are Persian or Longhair in type, and future generations may well wonder why in some countries these were separated.
Shorthair cats with Himalayan coat pattern are known throughout the world as Siamese, expect in the USA, where the Seal, Blue, Chocolate and Lilac points are Siamese but any other point color is called color point Shorthair; similarly, in the USA only the Seal, Blue, Chocolate, and Lilac longhair Siamese are called Balinese, and other paint colors areJavanese. In the UK, self-colored Orientals are ‘Foreign’, but all the others are called Oriental Shorthairs, regardless of coat pattern or color, in the USA, all these are Oriental Shorthairs. Also, all the new colors of the Burmese are known as Malayans in the USA.
There is also a confusion about the name of the colors: what are known as Champagne, Platinum/Lavender and Sable in the USA are known as the genetic colors Chocolate, Lilac and Brown in the UK.
- Persian (Longhair)
- Peke-faced Persian
- Colorpoint (Himalayan)
- Himalayan Hybirds
- Balinese and Javanese
- Norwegian Forest Cat
- Maine Coon
- British Shorthair
- American Shorthair
- Exotic Shorthair
- Scottish Fold
- Japanese Bobtail
- Colorpoint Shorthair
- Havana Brown
- Oriental Shorthair
- Egyptian Mau
- Burmese and Malayan
- Russian Blue
- American Wirehair