Which are the best cat breeds? First question, how do you decide which is the best? This is surely subjective, isn't it? Maybe, but not completely. Sure there will always be a chunk of subjectivity in picking the best of anything. Take cars for example. Which is the best car? I immediately think of cars such as the Mercedes, BMW and Rolls Royce. All very expensive and top end but the best quality. In the lower price range we also look for quality through reliability. Build quality is probably the number one criteria. Then we have appearance and performance. All of these qualities can be transferred interestingly to a cat or any animal. Lets try with the domestic cat breeds.
Which is the best built cat? Weird thing to ask and wrong in one way because it converts a living creature into an object. But this is what we are doing to a large extent. One of the classic created (built for a market) cats is the Toyger, designed for modern trends in exotic cats.
A number of breeds have a genetic propensity to certain diseases. One comes to mind immediately, the gorgeous Maine Coon, one of my favorites and cat that would be one of the best cat breeds but for her propensity to contract HCM (a heart disease).
In general terms the best built cat will be one from the widest gene pool, the Moggie or Household Pet in show parlance. This cat is not a cat breed however. But she can be shown and have a pedigree.
Traditional Siamese Cat photograph copyright One_From_RM reproduced under creative commons.
Cats such as the Persian (the Ultra Persian) cannot be one of the best cat breeds as she has too many inbuilt health issues. It is like buying a car that doesn't start some mornings. And her coat needs constant grooming, like a car that needs constant cleaning.
I would tend to go for cats with a natural history and hope humankind has not interfered too much. I'm thinking of cats like the Chartreux here. As a general criteria it seems that the less developed the cat breed (meaning developed in terms of breeding for a perfect type) the better. Breeding for type to win shows can result in problems. The Siberian cat breed was introduced to HCM by the introduction of a superb cat with perfect type who carried the disease, for example. Over breeding creates great looks (or at least interesting looks) and poor health (sometimes) in my opinion, although this is a generalization.
The most popular cats are the Abyssinian and Siamese. There are a range of Siamese looks from the Modern skinny to the normal traditional. The public prefer the Traditional. There are no outstanding health issues with the Abyssinian and the same goes with the Trad. Siamese. These then are the best cat breeds. Popularity of a cat breed is usually mainly based on appearance so if you can back that up with health (car term - build quality) you've got the best.
Another factor should be noted, performance. All cats are superbly athletic and have senses (of smell for example) well beyond ours. The Abyssinian is no exception. In addition she is lean and medium sized. She looks athletic compared for example with a rounded Persian.
I have not mentioned the Bengal. A fantastic looking cat and smart. There is a developing ground swell of information that indicates that this cat has a similar incidence of heart disease so I have discounted this cat breed.
One final point - intelligence, this is surely a factor in picking the best cat breeds. Yes. But all cats are of similar intelligence. The wildcat/domestic cat may have more highly tunes senses and survival instincts and although cats such as the Savannah are popular and healthy I have discounted these hybrids as there is a body of people who object to this kind of cat breeding.
Conclusion: the best cat breeds are the Abyssinian and Traditional Siamese.
Photograph heading this post: Abyssinian cat - great photograph - great cat - copyright polandeze under creative commons.
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