Thursday 3 April 2008

Facts About Cat Breeds

cat amongst cherry blossom
Photo copyright tanakawho (see below)

What Kind of Facts About Cat Breeds is the average person looking for? On the Pictures of cats website I try and focus on, you guessed, pictures of cats. I tend to keep the facts to a summary form. However, I always check information from a number of sources so that it is a true and balanced summary of the most important and relevant information for people interested in cats.

This site and its parent site are really designed for people who are not in the cat fancy, meaning people who keep cats but are not cat breeders. That is because this is the biggest market.

I always cover the same facts about cat breeds, for each breed. These are the origin and history of the breed, the appearance and character, any health issues and finally I list some breeders.

Of these four groups, "facts" in relation to origin and history are often not facts at all and I make this clear on the relevant page of the site. There are several reasons why the origins and early history of domestic cat breeds is hazy. It is worth noting that this haziness only relates to "natural breeds". Breeds that have been created by mating one breed with another (a hybrid) will be a fairly recent and well documented event and therefore accurate. This type of "breed creation" and development has only come about in the latter part of the 20th century during the expansion of the cat fancy.

The problem of accuracy arises for cat breeds that have been "discovered". I'm going to be cynical here. It is more interesting for a cat breeder who wishes to develop a cat breed to declare that they have discovered a long lost, unusual and rare cat breed that has evolved all on its own by natural selection. People don't react that kindly sometimes to the idea of "creating" yet another breed of cat. There are enough, already, some people think. The trouble is the discovery stories are by their nature vague. If I was being really cynical I'd say deliberately vague. If the stories are true then they are bound to be hazy because no one was tracking the early (undiscovered) development of a discovered cat breed. So when you see slightly conflicting stories about the early history of a new natural cat breed you might treat the information with some caution.

The same can be said sometimes about health. Highly accurate facts about cat breeds in respect of health can be difficult to come by sometimes. Take for example genetic disorders. Two cats come to mind, the Maine Coon and Bengal, both can succumb to heart disease (HCM). Cat breeders know that it is not uncommon (in the Maine Coon about 30% I am told), but the genetic markers are yet to be located and "pinned down". In other words research continues. This is the same story for other cat breed genetic disorders. These have only relatively recently come about to the extent that breeders have to deal with them. In respect of the Bengal cat HCM has very recently become an issue but (and you can't blame them) breeders will tend to keep things quiet to protect their business. This serves to damage the cat breeding business generally in the long term and is "short termism" at its worst and more importantly unethical in respect of the cats involved. It also places a barrier in the way of cat health and sound information about the most important aspect of domestic cat breeds, their health.

There is one area of facts about cat breeds that is totally transparent, the appearance. The cats that you see on the Pictures of cats website are all high quality cats, some of them are show champions of extremely high quality. So you can be sure that you are looking at a true representative of the cat breed in question. Sometimes though you will see, say, a Bengal cat that is certainly not a purebred Bengal cat although the cat was probably "sold" as purebred.

There is a wide spectrum of standards amongst breeders and of course a purebred cat that has been adopted and not neutered (almost all are neutered, I believe, before being sold) can breed with mixed breed Moggies. You'll get Bengals but not the original purity. So even in respect of appearance you'll get less than accurate facts about cat breeds on occasions.

See probably the best pictures of cat breeds and carefully summarized facts on the main website and start with the three pages dealing with all the cat breeds in alphabetical order at the top of the navigation bar.

Picture at head of post. This is a calico temple cat taken by a well known Flickr photographer who is very talented. You can see more of his work and the work of two other talented Flickr photographers on this page. A Calico cat is not a cat breed. Calico describes the nature of the cat's coat, which is tortoiseshell and white.

Facts About Cat Breeds to Pictures of cats

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