Monday 8 September 2008

American Keuda

American Keuda - The name is nice and even nicer because it stands for something. This is an efficient name, one of the best I've seen. I wonder whether the originators of this breed dreamt up the name of the breed first and then fitted the name of the survey ("Kitten Evaluation Under Direct Assessment") to the name of the breed? The logical sequence would be the other way around but the name of the survey is a little artificial so I reckon the sequence of events is as I have suggested. I could be barking up the wrong tree big time though.....

Anyway, back to this cat breed. The assessment program mentioned took place, apparently, in the 1980s in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico (the Southwestern United States of America). The objective was to study the barn cats of that region to find out the kind of characteristics that make a barn cat a good quality barn cat. In other words the study was looking at utility, how useful the cat would be in keeping down rodents as that is the classic role for barn cats. We are turning the clock back a long way here as the Maine Coon when first domesticated was, it has been supposed, a very hardy and effective barn cat. The barn cat is a semi-feral cat as he/she lives on the property of a farmer and provides a service for which I would expect he/she gets the occasional reward.

The area selected for the assessment is, it is thought, one where the longest genetic development of barn cats has taken place, going back to the European settlers - the 1600s (as does the Maine Coon) and perhaps right back to the 16th century. The long history gave the imported European cats plenty of time to adapt to the conditions, thereby evolving and become very efficient survivors and therefore hunters.

The idea was to create a cat breed that was founded on the objective of maximum utility as opposed to best appearance. I love that starting point. I'm basically a Utilitarian. Anyway, having found cats of the region that were the most efficient and talented barn cats (e.g. hardiness, strength and hunting skills) the founders breed from the best to start this utility cat breed. The development program is confined to breeding from these feral cats and no outcrosses to wild cats are permitted.

The end result, the American Keuda, is a cat very similar to the Egyptian Mau (on occasions). The Egyptian Mau is a very glamorous looking cat so I am surprised because feral cats are not usually glamorous looking and in any event the purpose is not good looks but function. The similarities many relate however to physiology (the functions of the body) rather than coat pattern - the appearance (see an Egyptian Mau below). However, some American Keuda cats look very much like an Egyptian Mau.

Egyptian Mau. Photo: Helmi Flick
The Amerian Keuda has a wide range of coats. If breeding, as planned, is only from feral cats the coat types will be the types commonly seen for mixed breed cats, namely tabby cats, tabby and white, solid and white and Tuxedo for example.

The quality of the spots seen on an Egyptian Mau as seen in the cat above would need to be "bred in" carefully in my view. However, the feral Egyptian Maus of Egypt have spots with what seems to be ticking. The spots are, therefore, less well defined (see the photograph right a feral Egyptian Mau and a very well feed

Egyptian Mau feral cats. These are the origins. Photo: PoC.

A spotted cat is a tabby cat. This is not a registered cat breed despite the origin dating back to the 1980s. However, it would seem "active" development has only taken place since 2002.

I have to take issue with the Wikipedia author on one issue. The author says that the "morphology" of the cat is important. Morphology means the outward appearance. Physiology relates to function. I am sure that this is a mistake as the American Keuda is meant to be about function, utility and not appearance (morphology).

There is an association, The American Keuda Cat Association (AKCA). The cats illustrating the webpages are of nicely balanced cats, nothing extreme, which I think is commendable and of course to be expected from feral cats. The AKCA make a point about the loose skin assisting running and athletic abilities. At present I am not convinced that this is the case, i.e. this cat probably has no more loose skin than other breeds. Nonetheless the strengths of this cat is the normality but this probably works against the American Keuda becoming a purebred pedigree cat as the major associations like to see differentiation through appearance above all else.

American Keuda to the Domestic cat

American Keuda - Sources:
  • Messybeast
  • Wikipedia
  • AKCA

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