Tuesday 1 April 2008

Top 10 Cat Breeds

Are the Top 10 Cat Breeds the most popular breeds or are they the best breeds in terms of key factors such as character, health and appearance?

The two concepts are linked and probably produce very similar results. A breed cannot be popular if the cats from that breed suffer a major genetic defect. Neither can that cat breed be one of the top 10 cat breeds in terms of objective criteria.

Maine Coon. A top breed 2021. Photo: Helmi Flick.

The top cats in terms of popularity are likely to be more middle of the road and good "all-rounders" to appeal to a wider audience. A good example of this is the over-development through selective cat breeding of the modern oriental shaped Siamese. Breeders in general prefer this slender cat to the more normal traditional Siamese. But people prefer the old fashioned and genuine Siamese, now called the "Applehead".

Some cat breeds are just too extreme looking to appeal widely. An example would be a Sphynx cat, which is probably too extreme in appearance with a bony wedge head and long limbs. Sphynx cats are great cats, actually. They are intelligent and active, but on appearance she will put too many people off to be truly popular.

Today there appears to be a trend back to cats with more normal appearances. One type of cat that has gradually, over the preceding 20 years of so, become more and more popular is the exotic cat. These are cats that combine good character with stunning looks. They are almost bound to be popular. An example is the Bengal (perhaps better to say "was" as this cat is now more mainstream through breeding) and the Toyger a designer cat (designed for people who like exotic looks). The Toyger though is not a wildcat hybrid and a vary rare breed still.

Ken and Helmi Flick's Maine Coon Cat - ZAK
Maine Coon - Zak - the top cat breed
However, some people find the concept of designer cats and wildcat/domestic cat hybrids plain wrong.  Although they can be stunningly beautiful and big. People like big domestic cats! The truth is the mixed breed cat is the most popular and probably the best cat companion. A lot of people don't need to live with a cat that has special looks. That said, some mixed breed cats are stunning and all cats are lovely as far as I am concerned. There is a particular beauty in a "lowly" Moggie who is utterly normal and reliable and a long-lived companion.

A mixed breed cat is not a cat breed. They can be shown at cat shows however as "household pets" (CFA terminology). Which of the cat breeds are the Top 10 Cat Breeds?

Photo above: (Andrew) is a fine Flickr photographer. I guess he lives with his Aby cats. He lives in Sheffield UK. The picture heading this post is also by Andrew. Andrew takes great photos of his Abys. I am assuming that they live with him.

This is my list based on popularity votes from the Picture of cats website and my knowledge of the cats as at early 2008. This alters of course over time but is now more settled.

Top cat breeds per poll 2008

1. Abyssinian. Voted most popular cat breed with the Siamese (as at early 2008). Not only does the "Aby" look good in a fairly normal way; she is good too. Her ticked coat has a connection in appearance to the wildcats in that it is good camouflage. Most wildcats have coats that provide camouflage. I like this connection with the past. She is athletic and has a slightly wild look. A nicely balanced body with nothing too extreme. All of this can be seen in the picture above of Blue in a Hawthorne tree.

2. Siamese. This cat goes back a long way and has been popular for a long time. She is currently voted most popular with the Abyssinian. Obviously the votes will change over time but the Siamese will remain in the top 10. There are two types (or really many types ) of Siamese, the Modern and the Traditional. It is a shame the cat fancy ended up with two. The public overwhelmingly prefer the Traditional Siamese according to votes. You can vote and see the results on the Traditional Siamese page of the Pictures of cats web site.

3. Maine Coon. This cat is just a lovely looking cat. Everything about a great long haired cat is there. What lets this breed down is health issues, which I find tragic as I am sure that when she was a mouser cat living in barns in Maine USA during the 19th century, she did not have specific health issues such as a high incidence of heart disease. This is probably due to careless breeding. I cannot see any other reason. Wrong? Tell me. She is still in the top 10 for popularity despite this genetic disorder. I wonder if the breed should be in the Top 10 Cat Breeds though? I think all cat breeds with genetic disorders should not qualify for top ten position as health comes first. See Maine Coon cat health.

4. British Shorthair. Basically a nice normal looking cat with a dense cuddly coat. That's what we are looking for.

5. Persian. I am going to be a bit naughty here and say we still love this cat despite breeders turning a lovely sweet faced cuddly cat into a kind of monster (sometimes) with the overbredthe top of this page.

6, 7, 8. The next three I am going to bundle together, the Bengal, the Egyptian Mau and the Savannah. They are similar, they have spotted coats :-). Of course more than that they are exotic looking. The first and last in this group are wildcat hybrids and the Mau is not (but looks very much as he could be). I think these should be in the list as there is a ground swell of opinion in favour of cats who look like these; domestic cats that look like wild cats. The Savannah is a cat apart from the others, though. Often people adopt the earlier generation Savannahs and these are big, alpha cats that demand input from their human companions and plenty of space. You'd better have a big house in America with a couple of acres of land for this gorgeous cat. These three should be in the Top 10 Cat Breeds. Although some Bengal cats suffer from a genetically based a heart disease (HCM). See HCM in Bengal cat.

9, 10. That leaves the last two. The Turkish Van and the Norwegian Forest Cat. Of these two I have a fondness for the Norwegian FC. I made a video using Helmi's pictures, which is top of the league if you do search for "Norwegian Forest Cat". It's a plain and honest video about a not so plain but very honest and distinguished cat. The Van is lovely too. All the cats selected are voted the most popular by visitors. The public is the best judge of which cats should be in the Top 10 Cat Breeds.

Top 10 Cat Breeds to Abyssinian Cat

1 comment:

  1. Top 10 Cat Breeds Video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o57z19Zkois

    2011 Updated Top 10 Breeds are:
    1. Persian
    2. Maine Coon
    3. Exotic
    4. Ragdoll
    5. Sphynx
    6. Siamese
    7. Abyssinian
    8. American Shorthair
    9. Cornish Rex
    10. Birman



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