Tuesday 30 September 2008

Serval cats


Although this page is primarily about wild Serval cats I have built a page on the domestic aspects of this cat – Serval and the second half of this page addresses domestic cat companion matters in relation to this cat. They are quite frequently domesticated and what better way to show this than a picture of Kathrin Stucki of A1 Savannahs with a tame Serval boy (above). This cat is very much like a domestic cat but not quite like a domestic cat; there is that edge of the wild in him.

Here he is in a video:

Here is a picture of the Serval in the wild:



This is a medium sized wildcat whose main habitat is the savanna in Africa. The cats size can be seen very clearly in the heading picture of Kathrin Stucki. Notable features of this cat are its rangy conformation, long legs, large ears, small head relative to body size and strongly spotted coat. Its body is designed to hear particularly accurately, jump athletically and run fast (up to 50 mph – the domestic cat has a top speed of about 30 mph).
In comparison with the domestic cat this cat weighs in the range 20 (female) to 57 lbs (male), the lower end of this scale being the top end of domestic cat weights (see Largest Domestic Cat Breed).

Here are a couple of videos by me:

The classic markings are black tabby spots on a well ticked yellow/tawny ground but it can be melanistic (black) and white.

The scientific name is Leptailurus serval. The Serval is closely related to the African Golden Cat and Caracal.

IUCN Assessment as to survival in the wild

Assessment is on two levels, it seems. South of the Sahara desert they are classified as "Least Concern” – the species has been evaluated but does not qualify for any other category:


Serval cats are “relatively abundant” in this area, hence the classification.
North of the Sahara in Morocco, northern Algeria and Tunisia they are assessed as “regionally Critically Endangered” - Critically endangered is the highest risk category assigned by the IUCN for wild species. Critically endangered means that a species numbers have decreased, or will decrease, by 80% within three generations (src: Wikipedia) :


Range Habitat and Ecology

The Serval occupies large areas south of the Sahara what called “sub-Saharan Africa”. They do not occupy the desert or tropical rainforest. North of the Sahara they occupy fragmented habitat in low populations.


Serval range. Published under Wikimedia® creative commons license = Attribution-ShareAlike License.

Here is a picture of a possible Serval habitat:

Kenya, Africa. Photo by scaglifr.

Apparently Servals are common in most reserves. Outside the parks their population is uncertain. They are found in long grass in savanna landscapes but can also be found higher above sea level up to 3,800 on Mount Kilimanjaro and in forest. They prey on rodents (in wetlands) in the long grass, listening and then jumping up high and pouncing on the prey stunning and killing. They are also able to catch birds in flight (as the bird takes off).

Threats and Conservation

Threats include:
  • wetland habitat loss/degradation through human activity
  • burning of grassland
  • overgrazing of livestock
  • skin trade (skins seen in Morocco for example)
  • medicinal and ceremonial use of body parts (e.g. Nigeria)
  • killed by farmers to protect livestock
Conservation includes:
  • Listed in CITES Appendix II (“…lists species that are not necessarily now threatened with extinction but that may become so unless trade is closely controlled.”)
  • hunting banned or regulated in many African countries
  • they occupy protected reserves (e.g. Aberdare Mountains N.P. (Kenya))
Some more:
  • Serval Cats (focus on legal stuff)
  • Tame Serval (more on the boy cat featured on this page)

From Serval Cats to Savannah Cats

Sources - this section about the wildcat:
  • IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™
  • Wikipedia
  • PoC
  • Photo of Serval Cat in the wild on the road: by Duncan Fawkes - published under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs creative commons License -- this site is for charitable purposes in funding cat rescue.
  • Photo of white Serval: licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

This section deals mainly with domestic Serval topics

Serval cats - fine photo - by patries71 - see base of post for licensing

This medium sized and athletic African wildcat is one of the ancestral parents of the domestic wildcat, hybrid the Savannah cat. Some people say that the Ashera GD of LifeStyle Pets Inc. (Allerca cats) is an unregistered Savannah cat. Even if it is (there is no strict evidence), the Ashera GD is claimed to be hypoallergenic and no cats are claimed to be hypoallergenic other than the Ashera GD and the other Allerca cats that are said to be hypoallergenic

Serval cats are closely related to the Caracal. The Caracat is one of the ancestral parents of a lesser known domestic cat wildcat hybrid called a Caracat.

The Caracal is not a tamed wildcat that can has on occasiona become a pet cat but the Serval quite definitely is. I believe that the only place where this happens is in America and if not there are very few tamed or domesticated Serval cats in Europe or the rest of the world except perhaps in zoos.

What I mean is this. Serval cats despite their size and nature and the demands that that places on a human companion are treated as domestic cats in some households.

I have written a full page on the main site about the Serval cat:- see the Serval cat. This covers topics such as behavior and a nice story about a Serval cat in a London restaurant in the heart of the West End in 1923 - yes 1923. Domestication of this cat is nothing new.

I also put down a marker on this page as to what really are the bigger and more important issues namely, the legal requirements. Despite being tamed this is a bona fide wildcat and not a hybrid (F1, F2 hybrids can be a handful -see F1 Savannahs and Helmi and Ken Fick living with a Chausie another wildcat hybrid). I would particularly recommend reading Ken and Helmi's thoughts about living with an F1 hybrid domestic cat/wildcat before anyone proceeds to acquire any first generation wildcat hybrid never mind a tamed wildcat, which will magnify the demands and "problems". You might like to see an F1 Chausie in a face off with a parrot or playing in a bathful of water. I am not being negative I hope just realistic and sensible.

In addition to the Flick's excellent advice here are some pointers from a very sensible breeder of Serval cats. Her name is Tina Chandler and I use my words having read hers, and she says she doesn't want to be negative either (she is being wisely realistic becuase if we fail to manage this cat properly she/he may be confiscated by the local authority and euthanased and we owe every cat a lot more than that):
  • it is better to adopt a kitten as one can better bond with a young cat and wildcats and hybrids are able to bond very strongly - very affectionate. Also a Serval kitten will be socialized with other pets and learn to live with them. An adult Serval may not take kindly to the introduction of another pet and if the other pet is the right type and size may consider the pet to be prey.
  • once weaned Serval cats are "high energy" (do you have to time and commitment to manage this energy?).
  • there may be legal requirements - these need to be thoroughly checked before going any further - see some contact details and thoughts are below.
  • cats spray for territorial reasons. Neutering cats stops or eases the "problem". Servals are wildcats and do the same. Neutering and spaying may not remove the problem (this is not a problem for the cat). Can we cope with that? A lot of people can't, I suspect. To me this and the characteristics of this fine cat means people shouldn't adopt unless they have the space and an enclosure (see building an enclosure).
  • other pets need to be considered. Serval cats are very efficient hunters (50% success rate - frightened?).
There are also moral decisions to be made and veterinarian issues. I discuss these briefly below.

Serval cat
Serval cat photo copyright Helmi Flick - this is a thumbnail -click on the image for more.

Legal Stuff

For me the first thought that comes to mind when thinking of living with Serval cats is, "Are there regulations and legal requirements governing the keeping of wildcats?" And the answer probably is a yes but what exactly are they? I am not going to research State by State as it is too time consuming. You will find that there is a gradual tightening up of stat-by-state regulations on the keeping of wild cats or what is termed "exotic animals". Please check the law of the state concerned. This is very important and should be the starting point if you have the idea of owning a serval as a pet (ill-advised in my view).


The point that I am making here is this. Is your local vet up to scratch on African wildcats? It is not automatic that a vet will be able to treat an exotic wildcat as well as a domestic cat. OK, they are both cats and therefore very similar but there may some differences and if there are does the veterinarian know them? I wouldn't blame anyone if he didn't. In all professions there are specialists because there is too much to know and to experienced at as a "generalist". I'd make sure that my local veterinarian was good at treating wildcats and Serval cats before adopting.

Moral Issues

I know that I have mentioned this before but some people haven't seen the description of Serval cats on the main site (see this picture if you've missed it). When we adopt and keep a Serval cat we are putting that cat in an unnatural environment for our benefit. Might it be better if we made efforts to ensure that Serval cats were protected in their natural outdoors environment? This would help the cat, not us. Click here to see what I said on the main site.

From Serval to a portrait of a Serval kitten

Serval cats - photo heading this section (bottom section): This photograph is published under a Wikimedia® creative commons license license = Attribution-ShareAlike License

Training a cat

We don't normally think about training a cat except perhaps to use the litter, maybe the cat flap or at a more adventurous level a human toilet - cat toilet training, which is quite a popular idea. Yet the cats I have lived with have always used the litter perfectly without training; it comes naturally to a cat usually. The same goes for using a cat flap. A bit of simple encouragement might be needed to use a cat flap but in my experience cats get used to them pretty easily.

But what about training a cat generally? We consider that dogs can be fairly easily trained and cats we believe can't be trained or we don't bother to or don't need to train them. Dogs are pack animals and look more to human companions for the lead when it comes to doing things. Cats are more solitary and do their own thing but can adapt well to communal living in fact, after all they live with us - see sociable cats.

One established way to train dogs (and now cats) is with the help of a clicker. It's called clicker training, unsurprisingly. And I like the idea. I like the idea of training my cat to do more than the usual stuff. Plus it means a lot more interaction with her. That translates to more activity for our cats too and in a world where a lot of cats are full-time indoor cats activity and mental stimulation are pretty well essential to keep 'em healthy.

Clicker training is part of the process of reward based training. All of us, yes, humans too, can be trained by the giving of rewards for a task completed. I guess everything we do is for a reward, so reward based training underpins a lot of what we do. With an companion animal the clicker is clicked just after the successful completion of the task and just before the reward is given (usually a bit of her favorite food). It seems that the click is a marker, a sound, which accurately pin points the moment when the task was completed so that the pet can better recognize what she is being rewarded for and relate action to reward, thereby facilitating the learning process. The action, click, reward sequence is a combination of events that makes training a cat more efficient and successful.

Here is a video about clicker training a cat:

I am going to give it a try. One thing my girl cat has never been able to do is sit on my lap. This is because she is a stray cat who I believe was frightened of doing this with her first human companion for some reason. She used to live with a person near to my home at the time in Central London until the person abandoned her.

I am going to try and train her to sit on my lap. I would love this as it would (should I hope) make her life better and help make our already close bond even closer. Training a cat can be fun too.

Training a cat to Home page

Cougar sightings

Cougar wild cat
Cougar wild cat - have we seen anything more beautiful and splendid than the face of this fellow animal? great photo by digitalART2 well done.

There has been a report recently about a spate of Cougar sightings by the residents of a town in the USA - Blackstone Va. This town is in Eastern USA where it is almost certain that all Cougars have been removed through our activity except in Florida where there are about 100. The Florida Cougar is critically endangered.

The Blackstone rush of Cougar sightings were reported by the local media (15 stories - is that right?). The editor of the local paper is the Mayor of the town I believe. The point is this. A small newspaper needs stories and Cougars create that kind of middle America readable story and it fills papers and heaven knows I am sure that it is hard sometimes to fill a local newspaper.

This creates more stories, more Cougar sightings and hysteria eventually takes over. And the media started it. Worse it's the innocent Cougar that gets the worst of it all as people will be more likely to kill one if one actually turns up, which thankfully will almost certainly not happen.

So what happens is this; the local people start believing that there are Cougars about. When they see something that might look like a Cougar at a distance (and a lot of animals in the dark or dusk might) they report it and get a little panicky. You get old people with eyesight to match sitting on their porches in the evening convincing themselves that a massive Cougar is about to turn up.

In fact the wild Cougar is not that large (about the size of a person) and can be frightened off using proper techniques. I wonder if the local paper wrote about that and conservation and how the Cougar has been killed off in Eastern USA and will be almost certainly become extinct in the wild in the USA generally within say 50 years unless for example sport hunting of the Cougar is banned. These are the real issues the big issues but unfortunately they are a little boring to local people sitting on their porches looking out for that ellusive big cat..........

Cougar sightings to home page

Cougar sightings - Photo: published under a creative commons license - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License.

Cat with four ears

cat with four ears

I don't think we should devote much time to a cat with four ears because it is simply an anatomical abnormality. Another one is cats with more than the usual number of toes - see American Polydactyl cat. Humans can be polydactyl too. Humans can also have less than the usual number of toes or fingers. This is called split foot - see CHARGE syndrome, split foot and cats. A more technical name for split foot is Syndactyly.

Humans can also have 4 nipples and so on and so on. I know people are sometimes interested in this kind of thing but I think it is more the media than the people. Not many people search the Internet for a cat with four ears compared with American Shorthair cat for example.

The extra ear flaps or pinnae of a cat with four ears is not a functional piece of anatomy, it seems. In the case of YODA, the 2 extra flaps (in fact it was 4 extra flaps in my opinion as I think Yoda had 6 ears) were not attached to the skull. In other words there were no extra ear canals as well. They were vestigial extra flaps no more - cosmetic defects or perhaps not a defect at all as he became very well known because of them. Yoda was picked up in a bar in the US. Kittens apparently were being handed around to poeple who might like one. That doesn't sound that great. Yoda is microchipped as he might be stolen due to his celebrity. I can't publish a picture of Yoda, the cat with four ears because the photographer sold the rights to an agency and I think they will charge for the right to publish and it is not worth paying for that right.

In the case of Yoda it seems that his extra ear flaps pushed his functional ear flaps lower down the head as they look a little out of place. This doesn't seem to have had effect on his hearing.

Cat with four ears to home page

Monday 29 September 2008

Cornish Rex Cats

I've changed my mind about Cornish Rex Cats after seeing this picture on Flickr®, which is published here under a creative commons license - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License. A fine photograph. I like the way the Dax's fur is reflected in the background colors and textures.

Cornish Rex Cats kitten picture
Cornish Rex Cats - kitten - he is called Dax - photo by Kattenpraat

The first of the "mutants" (as the authors of Robinson's Genetics for Cat Breeders & Veterinarians call this breed) was the Cornish Rex (1950). The individual cat was called Kallibunker. See his picture below (this I believe is Kallibunker - wrong? then please tell me in a comment)


Photo above: Kallibunker - you can see how the ears have grown because of selectively breeding for large ears. Cat breeders like big ears! Of course Kallibunker was "discovered" in Cornwall, England. This is in the far south west of England where the human population is lower. It is a popular tourist area for Brits.

View Larger Map

You can see a lot more including some great show cat pictures by the celebrated Helmi Flick on this page: Cornish Rex cat

Cornish Rex Coat
The mutated gene that gives the wavy coat in Cornish Rex cats is recessive. It is symbolized by the letter r. The coat is soft to the touch and like a mole-skin apparently. There are it seems no guard and awn hairs. The hairs are often distinctly wavy; a marcelled effect or curls (marcelled refers to people's hair styles that have deep wavy curls made by using curling irons). See the picture opposite for this effect. This is a cropped image copyright Helmi Flick.

The whiskers are shorter and frequently bent. The whiskers are a good marker to identify this breed in young cats.

The coat can be thin or a thick covering. Robinsons calls it a "pelage". A dictionary definition of the word pelage states that it means the coat of an animal consisting of hair fur or wool....Not very enlightening really.

There is a long haired variety of this cat breed. Although the hair lengths are longer that usual they are shorter than a non-rex coated longhaired cat and the hairs are thinner. This indicates the long haired gene (symbolized by the letter l) can work independently of the mutated rex gene.


From Cornish Rex Cats to Home Page

American Wirehair Cat

This is a fine picture of an American Wirehair cat by Helmi Flick, the best cat photographer. You can see this picture and more on this page: American Wirehair.

American Wirehair cat
American Wirehair cat photo ©copyright Helmi Flick

This is an odd-eyed cat. Robinson's Genetics for Cat Breeders & Veterinarians (4th Ed.) says that it is thought that the gene that gives this shorthaired cat the rough and unruly coat is monogenic with incomplete penetrance but dominant to the normal coat. The gene is a mutated gene. The gene symbol is Wh. Normally a shorthaired cat's coat has an even texture provided it is groomed normally. The American Wirehair cat's coat has the usual three "layers" of hairs, guard, awn (bristle) and down (wool hairs) but they are not normal.

The hairs are thinner than normal and curved. This particularly affects the awn hairs, which have an exaggerated undulation. This is a sparse wiry coat that is coarse but pleasant to touch. It is steel wool in the form of fur. The coat comes in a range of colors and patterns.

Gloria Stephens in the Legacy of the Cat suggests that the American Wirehair cat is not as robust as the American Shorthair. The skeleton is medium in size and not as substantial as the Shorthair. However, this is a muscular, agile, independent and active cat.

I conclude, on the Rare Cat Breeds page of the main website that this is a rare cat breed. In measuring rarity out of 10, where 10 is the most rare, this breed came 8 on my assessment. There are rarer breeds (e.g. the Sokoke). In confirmation of that assessment, Gloria Stephens says that in all the years that she was judging, she only saw one Wirehair cat.

American Wirehair cat to American Wirehair

Desert Lynx

desert lynx
Desert Lynx cat
photo copyright www.hybridexotics.com see base of post for details


The Desert Lynx is a wild looking but mild acting domestic cat. So what is this cat breed, what are the parent cats that go to make up this hybrid? This is one of the wildcat hybrids the best known of which is the Bengal cat (Asian Leopard cat X Domestic cat) and the Savannah (Serval X Domestic). The Desert Lynx is an American Bobcat X Domestic cat hybrid (and see American Bobcat hybrids ). The International Desert Lynx Cat Association (IDLCA) allows the following domestic cats to be outcrossed to the wild Bobcat: Manx, American Bobtail, American Lynx, Maine Coon, or Pixie-Bob. The Manx and Pixie-bob are short tailed cats. The Manx can suffer from a genetically inherited condition called Manx Syndrome (see Manx Cats). You might want to see Genetic Diseases in Purebred Cats as well. Breeders are nearly always responsible people and do all they can to minimize/eliminate health issues related to the breed of cat that concerns them. Some cat breeds, on the face of it, are healthier than others in terms of genetically linked diseases. It seems that at one time the Abyssinian cat was an acceptable outcross to the American Bobcat.

Desert Lynx cats of the third generation (F3) and beyond (from the initial wildcat/domestic cat mating) are mated to Desert Lynx cats only under IDLCA rules. This seems to imply that F2 cats can be bred to the original Bobcat (correct me if I am incorrect by leaving a short comment).

IDLCA is a "Chartered Breed Association" to the Progressive Cat Breeders Alliance, which is a cat registry that recognizes the Desert Lynx cat. IDLCA is the only Chartered Breed Association in relation to this breed of cat. The Rare & Exotic Feline Registry (REFR) also recognizes the Desert Lynx, which they say is bred to resemble the American Bobcat. They also say that there has been selective breeding of the Desert Lynx with many other breeds of domestic cat. This seems to slightly contradict IDLCA policy on the breeding of this cat.

Update: The information provided is from the breeders etc. Apparently DNA testing does not support that there is bobcat blood in this cat breed.


This cat breed will of course have a short tail that can vary in length from half a tail to no tail at all (see tail lengths in relation to the Manx). The coat patterns are leopard (spotted tabby - rosettes or spots in ebony, blue, bronze, chocolate, sorrel, lilac and fawn), tawny (ticked - see Abyssinian for classic ticked coat), and clouded leopard. There are also marble patterned coats (see marbled Bengal cats as an example of this pattern). And silver (see above), sepia and snows. Coat length is shorthair (slight ruff and ear tufts) to medium-long haired.

The Desert Lynx is a stocky and muscular cat. Interestingly a well known website says that DNA testing has not established that this cat has a wildcat ancestor.

Please note: Desert Lynx - Photo header: Despite emailing the breeder without response, I have taken the extreme liberty of publishing this photograph of Stich, a male Desert Lynx Breeder from the Hybrid Exotics website without express permission. I have only done this once before when building the Miniature cats page. The breeder of Miniature cats eventually responded to my email and agreed. I believe that she has benefited greatly from the arrangement as the page ranks first on Google searches and has done for a considerable time as at the date of this post and I provided a large link to the cattery in return. If the breeder wants me to remove the photo I will immediately. I have provided a link to the cattery at the top of this page in return for the use of the picture.

From Desert Lynx to Bengal cat

Sunday 28 September 2008

Cat in the White House?

Should there by a Cat in the White House? 20% of people who took part in a vote on whether there should be a pet in the White House said there should be a cat. 1% said a dog. 37% said several pets and 2% said no pets.

Socks is the most recent cat resident of the White House being a companion to the Clintons. When the Clintons acquired a dog, Buddy, a Labrador, Socks thought that the change sucked and never got used to it. Socks by the way was a black and white mixed breed cat. Were the Clintons wise to introduce a dog to the household as they did? Seems not. Socks never got used to it.

Socks now lives with the Clinton's secretary and is 17 years old at the date of this post. This is in his 80s if he were a person (is he still alive?). Why do people generally favor a cat and a pet at the White House? Simple. Pets and for me cats are a great benefit to the President. Cats slow you down, open you up by forcing you to think of something else. Cats are known to be good for our health. This is probably because they slow us down to reduce stress levels.

Cats can teach us one or two things too? Patience and persistence come to mind right away. Do cats in the White House alter people's perception of the President? Are cats/pets in the White House beneficial to the President in ways that benefit him in terms of popularity with the electorate? Yes and Yes.

82 % of people think that people who live with a cat are more compassionate and are therefore more likely to understand women. This could translate to more votes from women at least. Sure people want a strong President but being compassionate does not mean you are not strong. Also a pet provides a wonderful distraction for the media to get into.

OK, it's conclusive a cat in the White House is good for the President. Does Barack Obama and/or John McCain have pets and if so do they live with a cat?

Well John McCain beats Barack Obama by a clear margin in terms of pets. McCain has a number of pets including: 4 dogs, a cat, a parakeet and fish. OK very impressive. What about Obama? He should in theory have more being a liberal. But no, no pets whatsoever. Damn, I was behind Obama and now I am not so sure. Perhaps he has no pets because he is too mobile for a cat to feel settled. Perhaps he is thinking of the cat. He'll probably adopt a cat when he moves into the White House - another cat in the White House.

John Kennedy an inspirational figure for many including Mr Obama had many pets including a cat. Only good politicians live with cats.

Cat in the White House? to Home Page

Cat in the White House? inspiration came from PetPlace.com polls and the Presidental elections.

American Shorthair, British Shorthair, and European Shorthair cats

American Shorthair, British Shorthair, and European Shorthair cats are discussed as a group here. The origin of these breeds and indeed the South American cat the Brazilian Shorthair are all in the same cat, the European Shorthair and I include the British Shorthair under that description.

As an outsider to the cat fancy you might think that the three cats above are similar because the names are similar. You might also think that they are the same cat breed but just bred in different parts of the world. That is not quite the case, however.

European Shorthair cat
European Shorthair cat

I have already written about the American Shorthair cat and the British Shorthair cats. They are similar looking cats. They are nice sensible looking cats and when they are show cats they can be seriously glamorous too. The 2008 TICA best kitten is an American Shorthair called KELLOGGS LOVE ECHOES ON - glamor on four legs.. He is a classic silver tabby (see another American Shorthair tabby - this page also shows another silver tabby show cat, you'll be impressed by). They are meant to have calm personalities, which helps in the show ring, all that competitive competition you know, it gets quite nerve racking for us show cats.

This is an American SH:
Photo: Helmi Flick with her permission.

This is a British SH:
Photo: Helmi Flick with her permission.

But what of the European Shorthair cat? How does this cat breed fit into the scene, with these two well know breeds occupying a lot of space in the cat fancy already? The first thing to do is a comparison of the associations to see which ones recognize which breed. This is what I found, but it may not, despite considerable care, be complete:

American Shorthair
Recognized by all the North American cat associations. TICA, which is international, also recognizes this breed

British Shorthair
Recognized by all North American cat associations and the GCCF in the UK. TICA, which is international, also recognizes this breed

European Shorthair
Recognized by the Europe located cat association FIFe

This tells us right away about the differences in American Shorthair, British Shorthair, and European Shorthair cats. The European Shorthair is a lot less established, in terms of formal recognition, than the other two shorthair cats. The history (below) tells a different story.


When were the three breeds, American Shorthair, British Shorthair, and European Shorthair cats, created? The American SH began in 1966, the British SH in the 1870s and the European SH 1982 (formally).

I have used the date of formal recognition of the European Shorthair as the date of creation in this instance. Although this is misleading. The European Shorthair is the latest of the these three shorthair cat breeds on the block in respect of recognition by the major associations (it seems to me). However, the European Shorthair as a cat breed began at a similar time to the British Shorthair. While the British Shorthair was being "created" from domestic shorthaired mixed breed cats in the England at the beginning of the 1900s the Europeans were doing the same thing on the continent and importing British Shorthairs from England to improve their blood lines.

Sweden were also developing a shorthaired cat from imported British Shorthairs. These were crossed with sturdy local cats. The Swedes did not cross the imported British Shorthairs with Persian cats as was the case in England. Through following different breeding programs in the UK, Sweden and Continental Europe, whilst retaining the same breed standard it was time eventually to regularise the situation which meant the creation of the European Shorthair cat as distinct breed from the British SH.

The concept of creating a purebred and pedigreed cat from a mixed breed domestic cat is commonly encountered particularly early on in the history of the cat fancy. For example it happened to the Norwegian Forest cat . The Egytpian Mau is still a feral cat in Egypt and a glamorous show cat in the West. As discussed it also happened to the British Shorthair cat in the late 1800s in England. In theory any type of cat can become a purebred cat provided the cat associations agree and the rules applied.

As to the American Shorthair cat this breed also has its foundations in the British SH as the first American SHs were created from the decendents of Brit SHs imported into north America in the 1600s with the European settlers. The development of the American SH in the 1900s would have followed a different but similar course to the Brit SHs.


As mentioned, in England the British Shorthair cat was outcrossed with the cobby Persian so the cat is more cobby than the European SH. This is apparent in the photographs. The British SH was also referred to as a European Shorthair cat, causing confusion. In contrast, there was and is a desire to keep the European SH as pure as possible. Yet it has to be accepted that the breed's origins are in mixed-breed cats (meaning impure). Perhaps it is more accurate that the formal breeding programs of this cat (c.f. informal breeding of non-purebred cats) are such that the original appearance and character is being retained. Finland also produces high quality European SHs apparently. The European SH is not cobby (due to the Persian influence) but is muscular and strongly built nonetheless.

As I have written about the American and the British SHs (see links above) I won't repeat it here. I'll be building a page on the European in due course. But in brief the European SH has 58 colors and the classic tabby is the favorite (see cat coats tabby). As this is also a Scandinavian cat the coats are more suited to that climate and the European SH is thought to be the part of the history of the Norwegian Forest cat and other breeds (Siberian ? Chartreux for example).

A very quick outline look at the breed standards give clues as to the difference between the American Shorthair, British Shorthair, and European Shorthair cats:

American Shorthair
The CFA breed standard for this cat is I believe, in a general sense, somewhere between the British (cobby) and the European (balanced). The CFA say that this is a "working cat". No part of the anatomy should be exaggerated. Although the cat should be strongly built.

British Shorthair
The CFA says that this cat should be compact with medium to short legs and a rounded head (round and massive). That right away gives us the clue as to the general shape of this cat breed. The original British Shorthaired domestic cats from which this breed was developed are very similar to the modern Brit SHs except less cobby and less rounded. The breeding of the cat over the past century has created that more rounded appearance.

European Shorthair
I am going to simply refer to the opening paragraph of the FIFe standard in which they say that this breed "can be compared to any kind of domestic cat". In other words this is like the Moggie mixed bred cat that can by the way compete at championship shows and has its own class (see Household Pets - Mixed breed cats). It also means that the European Shorthair cat is truer to the original appearance of the original British SHs before they became purebred cats.

American Shorthair, British Shorthair, and European Shorthair cats - Source for European SH - Finnish European Shorthair Cat Club.


Picture of European Shorthair cat is published under Wikimedia® commons license - Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 License. Author is Ba'Gamnan. See Wikipedia license generally.

From American Shorthair, British Shorthair, and European Shorthair cats to Home page

European Burmese cat

European Burmese cat - this is the name given by the American cat fancy to the Burmese cat in the UK. In the UK the cat breed is called the "Burmese". This is the case for each country that have developed their own "brand" of Burmese cat. On the GCCF website these colors are illustrated: brown, blue, chocolate, lilac, red, brown tortie.

I discuss the differences in more detail on the Burmese page of the main website, Pictures-of-cats.org: see Burmese cat.

The European Burmese cat, it is agreed, is more oriental in appearance. This is a cat fancy term that means less rounded/cobby (stocky). This is the case despite the origins of the American and European Burmese being the same. They both originate from the same cat that was imported into the West in 1930, Wong Mau.

In developing the breed, both cat breeders in England and America had to outcross to another breed, the Siamese cat. This is because at the beginning there were no other Burmese cats from which to develop the breed. This is a different start to the Devon Rex, which also started with one cat, Kirlee, a cat carrying a mutated gene causing the curly coat. To expand the breed inbreeding took place and latterly outcrossing to widen the gene pool. The inbreeding in the Devon Rex caused genetic diseases to surface. See Devon Rex cat breeding and Genetic Diseases in Purebred cats.

The development of the breed in England and then the UK took a slightly different course to that which took place in the USA. Ten colors are accepted by the GCCF in the UK, while the CFA accept 4:

--sable - deep rich brown
--champagne - warm beige to pale golden tan
--blue - medium blue to a slate blue
--platinum - sliver color with pinkish tinge

The GCCF accept these colors (solid and tortoiseshell): brown (similar to sable), blue, chocolate, lilac, red, brown tortie, cream, blue tortie, chocolate tortie and lilac tortie.

I am a little apprehensive about describing the type of Burmese cat because of the difficulty in differentiating one type from the other. I am not sure if this lovely cat is a purebred cat, perhaps the photographer can tell me in a comment? I think he/she is though. The appearance indicates the look of a European Burmese cat.

I think the difference between the two cats can be quite fine. Perhaps because the breed standards allow leeway in appearance. Cats at the extreme ends will look different but a cobby European Burmese might look similar to a less cobby American Burmese. There is a range of American Burmese body types and the same will be the case for the European Burmese. In America the more contemporary rounded appearance is, it seems, more likely to be seen in the show ring.

The Siamese, Tonkinese and Burmese are closely related. The Tonkinese is a cross between a Traditional or Classic Siamese Cat and a Burmese cat. In fact the original Burmese cat mentioned above is now considered to be a Tonkinese. It is quite complicated made more so by the fact that there are 4 types of Burmese cat:
  1. Contemporary (American Burmese) - rounded
  2. European - standard looking cat
  3. Traditional - presumed more like the traditional Siamese in shape
  4. Foreign - a Canadian cat fancy term meaning European Burmese cat with orange gene acquired through outcrossing

I think it fair to say that there will be an overlap for the reasons mentioned above.

All types of Burmese cat are medium sized but feel heavier than the appearance suggests. See largest domestic cat breed. Burmese cats are people orientated.

From European Burmese to Modern Siamese cat

Saturday 27 September 2008

Devon Rex cats for sale

Devon Rex cat - photo by Clark~

Devon Rex cats for sale are relatively rare. Although overall this is not that rare a purebred cat.

Before searching for Devon Rex cats for sale, you might find it useful to look at these two pages. One is about Devon Rex cat breeding and what they do to protect the health of their cats as best they can and the other page is about genetic diseases in purebred cats. Purebred cat breeders are almost always concerned people who put the health of their cats first and this is supported by the fact that the information about the blood typing problem mentioned on first linked page above comes form the Cat Fanciers Association website, who are cat breeders themselves or people who support cat breeding - good for them. I like the CFA.

Adopters of a purebred cat should know a bit about the maintenance requirements of the cat breed they intend to keep and that includes information about potential health issues. Health is a very important issue, so say more than 60% of people considering keeping a purebred cat. The ideal contract on the purchase of a purebred cat (and a contract between buyer and breeder should be automatic) is one in which the buyer is well informed and the breeder/seller has the welfare of her cats at heart. In other words breeding for health and temperament. A well informed customer is much more likely to be the right kind of cat keeper. This means a more stable and better life with less disturbance for the Devon Rex purebred cat.

Once you've had a look at the above pages, here is a list of breeders that I like and who have Devon Rex cats for sale. A visit to the cattery is essential. They are mainly UK based as this is the home of the Devon Rex and they are the top ranked websites:

Bountiful Devon Rex
Located in Lancashire, UK. This is in the north of England. The breeder cattery is run by
Gloria and Stephen Brynes.

Curlypurpot Devon Rex
Located in Lancashire, England, UK. Run by Emma Rhodes and her partner Dave.

The 2 breeders above stood out in the UK. In the USA I struggled to find free standing breeder websites so resorted to the CFA eventually.

Permarex Devon Rex
USA located - North Carolina. In the interest of their cats they do not ship, allow their cats to be outdoor/indoor cats (i.e. your cat will need to be a full-time indoor cat) and wisely they are firmly against declawing. They have great looking cats. I am not sure where in the USA they are based. Blood typing is done (see Devon Rex breeding ).

For more Devon Rex cats for sale in America I'd visit this page:


From Devon Rex cats for sale to Home Page

Photo published under creative commons license - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

Devon Rex cat breeding

Devon Rex cat kitten
Devon Rex kitten - Tilba - aged 13 weeks
Photo by petrichor
His health has no connection to this post.

Current Devon Rex cat breeding is or perhaps should be focused to at least a certain degree on hybridization and outcrossing to entirely different breeds when bearing in mind the history of the Devon Rex cat.

This cat breed started life from a single discovered cat, Kirlee in 1959 (see Devon Rex cat). That automatically meant a very small gene pool from which to breed. The gene pool remained small. Because the gene that makes the Devon Rex what he/she is (the curly coat) is recessive the gene pool was expanded by inbreeding at the early stages.

Inbreeding can (will?) eventually cause genetic problems (genetic diseases) and this was and is the case with the Devon Rex cat. This breed has a larger than normal number of genetic diseases (see Genetic Diseases in Purebred Cats for a comparison). A notable and distressing genetic disease is Spasticity, which prevents swallowing.

As I understand it Richard Malik of the University of Sydney who did work on this believes that the Spasticity that rarely occurs in the Devon Rex is a form of muscular dystrophy. The kittens die when choking on food - most distressing. The signs and symptoms include:
  • head sinking to chest when in the litter box
  • slow use of litter box
  • bobbing head
  • gait has a high step
  • chin rests on chest
  • biting is painful
  • enlarged esophagus that traps swallowed food

Devon Rex cat breeding includes outcrosses to the British Shorthair and American Shorthair under CFA rules. Other outcrosses have been used in the past. As mentioned the gene that produces the curly coat (signified by the symbol re) will only produce curly coats in second generation outcrossed kittens and then only 50% will be curly. This is not useful economically to a breeder and is a barrier to hybridization. It is the classic commerce -v- health argument for breeders.

In addition to the above genetic disease a blood type problem has been encountered. When a male with type A blood in mated with a female with type B blood the mother creates antibodies that can kill her kittens. Under these circumstances the breeder hand feeds the kittens until the kitten gets used to the antibodies. This would seem to prevent the death of the kitten. Blood typing is carried out to avoid the problem happening in Devon Rex cat breeding.

Breeders are doing all they can I understand to resolve these matters in their Devon Rex cat breeding programs.

From Devon Rex cat breeding to home page

Devon Rex cat breeding - Source of info on Spasticity: www.pandecats.com - source of blood type disease: CFA.

Genetic Diseases in Purebred Cats

Siamese cat
Siamese cat - photo copyright Stockxpert

Purebred cats and mixed-breed cats have a fairly equal propensity to get ill but it is generally considered to be the case that mixed-breed non-purebred non-pedigree cats have a lesser chance of suffering from an inherited disorder or genetic disease (or is this the case actually). This, it is argued, is because of the breeding practices of purebred cat breeders who are obliged (and no criticism is intended) to breed in a way which allows recessive, defective, genes that would otherwise stay dormant to become effective and visible. What I mean is that breeding purebred cats has to be to type (appearance) which requires a degree of inbreeding and a narrowing of the gene pool resulting in an "increased expression"2 of unhealthy recessive traits and, therefore a corresponding increase in the incidence of occurrence of these disorders. That said random bred cats also suffer from these diseases.

Clearly two "players" in the process of breeding cats, the cat breeders themselves and the cat associations (in respect of setting breed standards and good practice) require a good understanding of basic genetics, inheritance "patterns" and the practice of breeding for there to be successful breeding that does not negatively impact on the cat.

Note: The source is primarily a rather scarce book called: Medical, Genetic, & Behavioral Aspects of Purebred Cats; Ross D.Clark, DVM, Forum Publications, Fairway Kansas, 1992 (referred to as book 1)

Another respected source is The Cat, Its Behavior, Nutrition, Health by Linda P Case. Published by Blackwell Publishing ISBN 978-0-8138-0331-9 (referred to as book 2) 

Please also note that this page is not "breeder bashing". I am fine about cat breeders. But I just like writing about what really happens. I like a bit of reality.

Cats, like any other species can suffer from inherited diseases from defective and sometimes fatal genes. Polygenetic inheritance appears to be the cause of many genetic defects, which makes it difficult to see established patterns. As diseases transmitted by dominant genes often have "extreme effects"2 causing the offspring to die in the womb or soon after birth, most inherited genetic defects are due to recessive genes. Some breeds suffer from inherited diseases with greater frequency than other breeds.

Apparently, there are a total of 150 genetic disorders that can affect cats. I am not sure if that is all cats (meaning including wildcats) or only domestic cats. There are 400 genetic disorders that can affect dogs. The breeding programs of some dog breeds has been criticized causing the break up of long term business relationships at the Kennel Club in the UK (see purebred pedigree cat breeding ). Apparently humans can suffer from thousands of possible inherited disorders (src: www.pandecats.com - I don't know how reliable this source is).

However a Wikipedia
® article on human genetic diseases lists over 750. This is interesting. If the figures for cats is accurate it is only a fraction of the number of genetic disorders that occur in people. This is a strong counter argument to one which says that purebred cat breeding can promote ill health because of greater incidences of genetic diseases in purebred cats. However, one factor that is not discussed here is the number of occurrences of the genetic diseases set out below and those set out on the Wikipedia® website. Also there will have been much more funding into genetic diseases in humans so it could reasonably be expected that there are more Genetic Diseases in Purebred Cats or cats generally than as stated above especially as there is a lot of similarity between cat anatomy and human anatomy at a fundamental level.

Although, on the face of it the number of genetic diseases in purebred cats is much lower than the number affecting humans, it might be the case that the occurrences of the
genetic diseases in purebred cats is much higher. This might modify the counter argument.This is where the research comes to a stop as research into genetic disease in cats is work in progress. There is some funding but it might be fair to say that it is somewhat limited. I wonder how much funding goes into research on genetic illnesses compared to the disposal and/or recycling of euthanized feral and homeless cats? This is an upsetting area and comparison but one which informs us about ourselves and our deep rooted attitudes in a general sense towards other animals.

Another point that comes to mind is this. The list below refers to 20 cat breeds. There are over 70 listed on the home page of this website. Does that mean the other breeds do not suffer from
genetic diseases in purebred cats? I think not. In fact I know not. The conclusion is that this list is not complete but it is still a lot fuller than is commonly available, I believe. In fact I have added to the list. The added diseases are in italics. These are added to the list from the source referred to at the base of the post.

The list of Genetic Diseases in Purebred Cats is interesting in another way. The cat breed with the highest number of genetically linked diseases is the Siamese cat (Modern Siamese). Also see Siamese Cat Health Problems (a full discussion). There are a wide range of types (conformations) of this cat breed, from the more standard looking cat, the traditional to the Classic looking cat, which I say is like the new breed called the Thai to the extreme Modern Siamese, a very slender cat. I don't know to which conformation the list refers. Perhaps it simply refers to the Siamese cat generally not making a distinction. Paradoxically the Siamese cat is one of the most popular cat on the basis of a long running poll on the Pictures-of-cats.org website. Also a good 60% of people say that the health of a cat breed is very important to them (based on another poll on the website - see cat health problems). Is there a particular reason why this breed should have the longest list of genetic diseases? Another cat breed has a long list, the Persian (see Persian cat health problems) Both are very long standing cat breeds. The Persian is also a very popular cat. I have put the date of origin against the breed to see if there is some correlation.

Perhaps the answer is in their popularity. The more popular a breed the more breeding there will be. The more breeding, the more inbreeding as there is more competition amongst the breeders. The more inbreeding, the more disease...? Not sure.

Update July 2010: A discussion on the prevalence of Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) in cat breeds.
Update August 2010: A discussion on Hip Dysplasia in Cats - this is based on a well researched scientific study

Update Jan 2011: "Elimination of anomalies" is how the authors of Robinson's Genetics for Cat Breeders & Veterinarians (4th ed) call the section on how to eliminate genetic diseases in cat breeds. This is the foremost book on cat genetics in the world.

They say that the anomalies persist despite a desire to remove them. They cite two reasons why this is the case:
  1. Complex problem
  2. The remedy demands drastic action and the breeders find this unacceptable  - where have we heard that before! Think national debt as one example.
The procedure for eliminating these genetic illnesses depends on the "mode of inheritance" - whether the anomaly displays dominant, recessive mongenic or polygenic heredity.

Sometimes the illness may not be an inherited one. And simply avoiding the breeding of two carriers of a genetic disease does not mean that the disease will be wiped out according to an Abyssinian cat breeder, Gene Rankin, who is quoted in the book at page 92.

However, in theory every genetic disease transmitted by a single dominant gene can be eliminated if "every descendant of every afflicted cat was prevented from breeding" (Robinson's Genetics).

The late onset of some genetic disease present a barrier to this process. One such genetic disease that is late onset is Progressive Retinal Atrophy causing feline blindness. Abyssinians and Bengals can inherit this disease and see list above.

Recessive monogenic heredity presents another problem: detecting the heterozygote or carrier. Test matings can detect the carrier. If the kittens are normal the cat can judged to not be a carrier. Test matings are now considered irresponsible due to advances in testing.

"A major factor in the spread of an anomaly is the relaxation of culling (culling in this context means a cat being removed from the breeding process). Commercial demands on cattery owners are a resistance to culling breeding cats.

There is the constant clash, too, of preserving the breed through inbreeding and outcrossing to eliminate the disease.

The occurence of an anomaly can occur several generations from the "ancestral origin". In the meantime a first class breeding cat that is a carrier has spread the disease far and wide. There is resistance to removing genetic diseases in purebred cats. The major reason in my view is shortsightedness of the cat associations and breeders. They would rather take the easy route and sweep the problems under the carpet.

In the purebred dog world the Kennel Club in the UK have changes the rules, under pressure from the press and sponsors, such that show dogs are to be cleared for good health by veterinarians at the shows before being allowed to win awards. 


 Genetic Diseases in Purebred Cats the list:-

Abyssinians (date of origin 1860)

American Shorthair



British Shorthair (late 1800s) - read about these on this page: British Shorthair Health.

Burmese (early 1900s) - read about Burmese Cat Health covering some of the diseases mentioned below.

  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca
  • Erosion of cartilage of third eyelid
  • Lethal midfacial malformation
  • Ocular dermoids
  • Feline Orofacial Pain Syndrome 
  • Primary endocaridal fibroelastosis
  • Meningoencephalocele
  • Hypokalemic myopathy
  • Diabetes Mellitus (Sugar Diabetes) may have a genetic propensity (Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook updated edition 2011).

Chartreux (14th century)

Cornish Rex (1950)

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hypotrichosis2|1

Devon Rex (1960) - see Devon Rex cat breeding for more on this

Don Sphynx (1987) - also called Donsky
  • Reported that the gene that causes hairlessness in this Russian hairless cat (and the Peterbald) can cause ectodermal dysplasia in homozygous form.

Dwarf Cats (first Muchkin 1953) - see dwarf cat health issues

Himalayan (1930-1950)

Korat (14th century)

  • Gangliosidosis.

Maine Coon (1860s)

Manx (1730)

Norwegian Forest Cat
Ocicat (1964)
  • Pectus Excavatum
Oriental Shorthair

Persian (1530s) - note the Exotic Shorthair is a shorthaired Persian (American Shorthair and the Persian). These diseases may affect the Exotic Shorthair as well. Certainly PKD does. Visit Persian Cat Health Problems for more on these diseases.
  • Mannosidosis 1 | 2
  • Seborrhea
  • Polycystic kidney disease (PKD)
  • Chediak-Higashi syndrome 1 | 2
  • Congenital ankyloblepharon
  • Entropion (scroll down) 1 | 2
  • Congenital epiphora
  • Primary glaucoma
  • Peripheral pseudocysts
  • Patellar luxation
  • Hip dysplasia 
  • Report Daily Mail (UK)16-3--09: male Persians prone to a condition in that causes one or both testicles to remain inside the body, which can result in cancer. I am not sure if this is genetically linked.

    Ragdoll (1960s)

    Scottish Fold (1961) - click on this link: Scottish Fold genetic diseases and more.

    • Incapacitating joint disease with Scottish Fold to Scottish Fold breeding
    • Polycystic kidney disease
    • Severe vertebral abnormalities
    • Prognathis
    • Crippling epiphyseal dysplasia2

    Siamese (14th century - traditional and 1960s - Modern). See a full discussion on Siamese Cat Health Problems.

    Somali (1950s)

    Sphynx (1966)

    • Spasticity 1 | 2
    • Alopecia universalis.

    Tonkinese (1950s)

    Genetic Diseases in Purebred Cats - Source: Medical, Genetic, & Behavioral Aspects of Purebred Cats; Ross D.Clark, DVM.

    This is something I produced before building this page. There is an overlap with the above list, but I have reproduced it verbatim:

    Genetically linked diseases

    Genetic disorders are Important cat health problems. I have divided this section into two. The first part deals with cat breeds that are breeds due to a genetic mutation and the mutation has accompanying cat health problems. In the second part I deal with "normal" cat breeds that to the best of my knowledge have a propensity to a genetically linked disorder. Breeders always strive to minimize and eventually eliminate these disorders. Both are in summary form with links.

    Cat breeds due to genetic mutation

    1. Scottish Fold - The genetic mutation that causes the ear pinna (flaps) to fold over also results in an arthritic condition at the joints, tail flexibility and thickness, lack of mobility or hardening of the cartilage. Click here to read about this breed.
    2. Dwarf cats - The dwarfism gene that produces short legs can also bring health issues such inward curvature of the spine - the spine drops down around the shoulder blades) and pectus excavatum (funnel chest - flattened ribcage). Flat chest kitten may be present.
    3. Devon Rex - The mutated gene that produces the soft curly coat may bring abnormal blood clotting and muscle weakness. Read more. The "Rex" gene also produces a curly coat in the other Rex cats (Selkirk and Cornish) and the LaPerm. I don't know if the same problem affects these breeds.
    4. Manx - constipation and fecal incontinence due to the deformities of the spine.

    "Normal" cat breeds

    1. Persian - This breed has a number of health problems some of which are genetically based, such as (a) Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD). Click here for all the problems and PKD information (b) Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) affects Persians (click this link to read about PRA and Bengal cats). It is an early onset type for Persians (c) Eyelid rolled inwards (d) Chronic Degenerative Keratitis, causes a clouded eye and black or brown spot on the cornea (sequestrum).
    2. Himalayans and Exotic Shorthair cats are bred from the Persian so these two breeds will have the same health issues at least potentialy.
    3. Himalayans may suffer from cataracts due to a single genetic defect.
    4. All breeds, Maine Coon and Bengal - Heart disease hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). Read about this in reference to the Maine Coon and Bengal.
    5. Maine Coon - Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) and Hip Dysplasia and other disease (see Maine Coon cat health for details).
    6. Bengal - Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) - mid-onset (more).
    7. Abyssinian - Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) - late-onset
    8. Somali - Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
    9. Siamese - Chronic Degenerative Keratitis, causes a clouded eye and black or brown spot on the cornea (sequestrum). See Siamese cat health problems for a full discussion on health including genetically linked diseases.

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