Monday 7 July 2008

Popular Cat Breeds

Traditional Persian. Photo: Dani

It is easy for me to figure out which are the most popular cat breeds because I have been running a poll on the Pictures of website for a long time. Although the order changes a little from month to month the top three cats are the Siamese, the Maine Coon and the Abyssinian (at the date of this post - at March 2011 the top three are Maine Coon, Bengal and Siamese) - the links on this post lead to full descriptions and great photos of the breeds listed here. Historically, the Persian wins hands down as the most popular cat breed of all time and is still very popular in Asia for instance.


There is more than one type Siamese cat unfortunately. One is skinny and delicate looking (Modern Siamese) and the other has the classic conventional appearance. 75% of people prefer the latter, the conventional shape. Therefore, when people vote for the Siamese cat they are likely to mean the Traditional Siamese. The Siamese cat has a long history and has a very well known almost iconic appearance. This wasn't always the case as this cat breed was extremely special and unusual in the West until cats of this breed were imported into England in the latter half of the 1800s. Read about Siamese cat history as it is genuinely interesting and tells us a lot about the cat fancy (cat breeding) especially in the USA, the biggest domestic cat market by far.

Maine Coon Kittens
Maine Coon Kittens - now you see why this cat breed is one of the most popular cat copyright Helmi Flick

Maine Coon

The Maine Coon is bound to be one of the popular cat breeds for a number of reasons. Firstly, although it is thought the original cats that became the Maine Coon came over with the first settlers from England to America in 1630, this is now a true American cat breed. As most domestic cat keepers are in America it is going to be the case that most votes on the Pictures of poll come from Americans and that they will vote for their very own cat breed.

Secondly, this is such a fine looking cat; the complete package really in terms of looks and character. The one weakness with the Maine Coon is the breed's health. Certain lines or perhaps the entire breed carries "defective genes" which bring with them inherited diseases such as a heart disease called HCM and a hip defect which can be crippling. I cover Maine Coon cat health in some detail. That is not to say that these disorders are confined to this breed, they are not. It is just a shame for such a fantastic breed. It has been argued, I am sure, that some of the inherited disorders if not all are due to inbreeding or breeding too closely which brings forward defective recessive genes as well as produce cats that are "on the button" as to type (appearance for the breed by the breed standard). That said breeders are now doing good work to eliminate these deficiencies.


As mentioned, another one of the most popular cat breeds (ranked 3 in my poll) is the Abyssinian (the "Aby"). Why? Simple really, as this is a fine looking cat with a normal and balanced appearance combined with a long history going back to the importation of this breed from Ethiopia in about 1860 or so say the experts on cat history. Although one should take cat breed history with a pinch of salt sometimes.

The top 3 then are the Siamese, Maine Coon and Abyssinian, what comes next? More balanced and normal cats that a lot of us a familiar with. The next 3 in order of popularity are the Bengal cat, the Persian cat and the British Shorthair.


The first, the Bengal is a cat of the modern age replicating a wild and exotic cat but totally domesticated. This was the first cat in the line of cats that are intended to bring into the home the wild (nature if you like) but in a manageable way. But this cat breed, although very much an American type cat, full of "bling" and dash, demands a little more attention than the once most popular cat breed, the Persian. The Persian is made for indoor living it seems (although I am personally against it).

Ultra White Persian Cat
Ultra Persian Cat - photo copyright Helmi Flick


The Persian cat too is an ancient breed in essence. In terms of a time line of the origin of breeds the Persian goes back hundreds of years at least (see cat history). Yet the origin becomes a little meaningless as since discovery by the West the appearance of this breed has changed out of all recognition. A similar development took place with this cat breed as took place with the Siamese in terms of the alteration of the cat's natural appearance (the one we expect) to one that is frankly a little odd (see a discussion on the changing appearance of this cat breed and more). The modern looking Persian is called by some an "Ultra Persian" in recognition of the extreme appearance. I have argued that the extreme look goes against the basic underlying breed standard, which states that no breeding should result in health issues being bred into the cat, which is what has happened with the contemporary Persian. My thoughts are in line with the majority of people in that 75% of people prefer the Traditional Persian.

British Shorthair

6th placed (or there abouts) in the most popular cat breeds list is the British Shorthair. Once again this is because this looks like a classic domestic cat (like a cat should look) and cats of this breed have relaxed characters which suits modern demanding lifestyles.

Update March 2011: These breeds are still in the top 10 most popular breeds. The Maine Coon is now in the number one spot and the order has changed a bit. Here is the current list:


The next 4 making up the top 10 most popular cat breeds are the Norwegian Forest cat (NFC), the Egyptian Mau, the Savannah and the Himalayan.

The NFC has a long and distinguished history in Norway as a working mixed breed cat (a Moggy) until it was decided that she should be a show cat in about 1930. A great jumper.

The Egyptian Mau goes back to 2000 BC in Egypt but this breed is not treated so kindly in the land of her origin. This is a glamorous looking cat. Remember though that all cat breeds have been developed by breeders since "discovery"

The Savannah is a different kind of cat, a wildcat hybrid (like the Bengal cat). This cat is largely confined to the USA where the second generation cat from the wildcat (an F2 cat) is perhaps the most popular. You'll need space and time to keep an F2 Savannah. Some people think the Ashera GD (an Allerca cat) is in fact a Savannah F2.

Finally, the Himalayan ("Himmie"), which is a cuddly and pointed Persian Cat. All the characteristics of the Persian (laid back and part of the furniture) with a lovely pointed coat.

Popular Cat Breeds to Home page

1 comment:

  1. i like the ultra persian cat the white much does it cost in norwegian krone?


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