Bahraini Dilmun Cat

Bahraini Dilmun Cat
Is this a Bahraini Dilmun Cat?

This is probably a Bahrain feral, semi-feral or domestic cat but in comparing the description of this experimental cat breed with this cat there are distinct on please. Photo by greens n cornbread who says that the cats and dogs of Bahrain are best seen in the morning. This is probably for two reasons, one it is cooler at that time in a very hot country and secondly cats are crepuscular (go out at dawn and dusk to hunt). The photo is published under a creative commons license - Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License.

Update 25th March 2008: I am able to provide a substantial update to this post as since it was published Kathrin Stucki of A1 Savannahs has travelled to Bahrain and come back with video and still images of the tall, lean spotted street cat.  Using these images I produced this video:

Kathrin supports what a visitor said in the comments to this post that the Bahraini Dilmun is a wild cat hybrid. Bahrain is surrounded on both sides by countries where the serval and Jungle cat are found. Although a country made of 33 islands it is possible that domestic cats on the islands mated with these wild cats (the Jungle cat is particularly suitable as it is a similar size to the domestic cat and it was tamed into domestication thousands of yeas ago by the Egyptians).

Being an island a pool of founding hybrid cats could have produced this "breed" of wild cat hybrid over time. This is called the founder effect. The islands are relatively small. The Bahraini Dilmun would be a purebred cat without certificated in effect but this cat is now a recognised breed albeit extremely rare in a world wide sense and a new breed in the cat fancy.

This cat has evolved naturally, a precious process that can be easily destroyed by mating with domestic cats gradually diluting the purbred strain quickly. The Scottish Wild cat has or is suffering this fate it is thought.

And here are some quotes from Kathrin Stucki. Kathrin is an authority of wild cat hybrids in my opinion as she breeds the highest quality Savannah cats:

"The principle is sure the founder effect that I think happened on that island but is different in the way that, due to the crossing of several species the population started out with a much bigger gene pool. Different to other situations where a population of the same species is isolated and continues to evolve.

Knowing how fast the wild cat traits fade away by crossing out to regular domesticated cats, I’m afraid that it won’t be long before the Bahraini cats will lose their unique spotted coats and wild cat traits to become street cats that look no different to the ones we find all over the world"

"While I was there to visit a customer I couldn’t fail to notice the tall and lean spotted street cats. The wild looking cats with the tall ears and distinct ocelli immediately reminded me of my own Savannah cats. Most of the females that I’ve seen where about the same size and weight as our later generation Savannah cats but some of the Bahraini males seem to be quite taller and very lean in statute. Their spots are small and very nicely separated without any bars. The cats had an oriental like long body with a long tail, long legs and a long face but the coat was surprisingly short and coarse. Much shorter than the coat of an oriental cat and unlike any other cat coat I have touched before."

"Although timid, the street cats have quickly gained trust after I fed them several days at the same place. I observed a litter of approximately 6 week old babies that were born to a brown spotted tabby mother and what the residents believed to be the father was a huge black leggy cat with a very exotic appearance but without spots. The babies where all spotted and had big upright ears, distinct ocelli and the typical Serval hybrid appearance. They looked so much like little good quality Savannah kittens..."

Bahraini Dilmun cats - photo copyright Kathrin Stucki

See the above picture plus some more info.

What follows was written before receiving the material from Kathrin:

The Bahraini Dilmun Cat is a natural cat of Bahrain. This means that the cat evolved naturally, which further implies that the cat was and probably still is a feral cat and a household pet as well as an experimental cat breed being developed by the Cat Club of Bahrain.

All cat breeds ultimately come from feral cats, which in turn come from the wildcat. The classic semi-feral cat turned fantastic domestic purebred cat is the barn cat, the Maine Coon cat. My suggestion is that this cat breed is another example albeit more recent. The Arabian Mau is another feral cat that is currently being turned into a purebred cat.

The Bahraini Dilmun Cat is semi-foreign is terms of shape (meaning more slender than say an American Shorthair or British Shorthair). The cat in the picture fits the bill (unless someone wants to correct me for which I'll be grateful and not in any way upset).

Next, this experimental cat breed has soft fur, long legs and a narrow tail. The head is wedge shaped (all regular cats have wedge shaped heads, the Persian cat head is rounded). The coat is a spotted tabby as a result the legs and tail are banded. The eyes are green or gold. The nose has a "dusky blush" and this is apparent I believe in both the pictures illustrating this post.

The Egyptian Mau, another naturally spotted cat, is both a brilliant purebred cat in America and a persecuted feral cat in Egypt and looks very similar in feral cat conformation to this cat breed. As a purebred cat the pattern (the spots) are made to stand out more through greater contrast with the background. This is achieved by selective breeding. In a natural form the spotted pattern is veiled by lower contrast in part because the background is darker and in part because the spots are lighter and ticked (see tabby cat coats).

Well, as I said the written description fits the cats illustrated, very well in my opinion. Here is another Bahraini cat, not a Dilmun cat as far as I know but one that nonetheless, at least to a substantial degree, fits the bill.

Bahraini Dilmun cat
Great picture - mother protecting her young - photo of a cat in Bahrain by Hussain Isa. This cat has similar tabby spots and that dusky nose again.

One last thing, what does the word "Dilmun" mean? It is an ancient name describing an area that is around and beyond the island of Bahrain.

Michael Avatar

Bahraini Dilmun Cat to Egyptian Mau cat

Photos: published under a creative commons license.
Bahraini Dilmun Cat Bahraini Dilmun Cat Reviewed by Michael Broad on September 14, 2008 Rating: 5


Anonymous said...

The Bahraini Delmun cat might surprise all of us regarding the date of cat domestication.

DNA testing has shown that Delmuns still share wild cat DNA and could be part of a missing link between the domestic and wildcat. The isolated Islands of Bahrain could of provided a safe sanctuary for these ancients cats to survive as a natural breed

Michael Broad said...

Hi, thanks for this useful comment. It is appreciated.

Anonymous said...

wow that's a beautiful cat! and I can't seem to find it anywhere else on the Internet.
great pictures as well!

Anonymous said...

I own a handsome male Dilmun cat I brought to the US from Bahrain. They are an amazing breed, I fell in love with many of them when I lived there.

hala said...

hi i live in bahrain and a beautiful male dilmun kitten adopted me a few months ago. he's very frisky but adorable and has become one of the family. i'd really like to know if this type of cat can ever be domesticated as he is extremely playful, in fact when he's not sleeping or eating that's all he wants to do. should i be letting him go outdoors (he's had all his shots etc.) and if so how do i go about easing him into it while keeping him safe. i feel he's dying to play outside, but i worry. he's adorable with the sweetest, ,most expressive little face and a beautiful tiger coat.

Michael Broad said...

Well the Bahraini Dilmun can definitely be domesticated. They are semi-feral cats or feral cats and this sort of cat can be domesticated, especially kittens.

The question of letting him outdoors is a big one! Outdoors is less safe unless you do certain things to make it safe.

I am thinking of an nice enclosure for example. If that is not practical leash training is one idea although few people do it. Try taking him out on a leash (harness). Make a habit of it. He'll get used to it.

How safe is the outdoors for you? Some areas are safer than others. You might consider going out with him and supervising. But this can fail because cats can run off etc.

In the UK we let cats out. In the USA a lot of people keep their cats in permanently. It is a matter of choice.

Safety comes first. The best compromise is a nice enclosure that lets the cat out but in safety.

It is nice to hear from you. And to know people are adopting this cat, which by the way is a purebred cat, it could be argued, although not formally recognised by cat associations.

Jameela said...

This blog has been useful. I live in Kuwait and I recently adopted a kitten that I was told is a Bahraini Dilmun Cat. Since Kuwait is not that far from Bahrain and sailors come on go in that region, I believed that. All characteristics listed on the internet match my kitten.

Michael Broad said...

Yes, your cat might well be a Bahraini Dilmun. A lot of early movement of cats during the early years of the spread of the domestic cat was through shipping.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering id my cat was a Dilmun? I picked him up off the streets of Bahrain when he was about 6 months old. He is overly affectionate, loves water, and walks more like a german sheppard than a cat. He meows a lot, is extremlly soft. I did not realize spots here not that common in cat breeds until I brought home to the US and I got so many comment on him. we now live in Italy, and though it is not cold, it's not desert and he is always shivering.

Unknown said...

On March 1st, a very pregnant cat got into my house. A few hours later she had 5 kittens in my bathroom. I decided to keep them until they were old enough for adoption. 3+ months later I still have mommy and one little boy. In looking through all different breeds, the Dilmun is the only one that seems to fit, both in looks and behavior. Only question I have is, if anyone knows, does this breed often come with 4 white legs/paws? If not, any suggestion as to what breed they might be?

Michael Broad said...

Hi, are you in Bahrain or somewhere else? This cat is only found in Bahrain. It is not yet a cat breed formally although it is a cat breed informally because it has pure breeding due to the island (confined) population. Your cat is almost certainly a random bred cat but I must say: Well done is taking care of her. Great work.

Nancy said...

I just found a stray Delmun kitten. He is beautiful and so friendly. I'm just praying he and my dog will get along so I can keep him. I am in Bahrain but am moving back home to the U.S. soon. :)

Michael Broad said...

Fantastic. It's unusual to have somebody comment that they are found a stray Bahraini Dilmun. Thank you for commenting.

Marianne said...

We found a cat in the Saudi desert and I think it might be this kind of cat. Could I send you some photos of her to see what you think? She has a very distinct personality as she is quite feral but also strangely loving at times (so long as we don't touch her LOL). She needs A LOT of play as otherwise she becomes more destructive. We found 3 cats and a dog in SA and we believe the dog is a canaan :-) Beauties.

Madeleine said...

A friend of mine found a kitten in USA/ Pennsylvania almost two years ago which we adopted. The vet mentioned that he was a rare breed. So we looked into it and he is definitely this breed. I wonder how he got here. He is one of the most beautiful cats I have ever seen. Sleek with an apricot chest and long legs that can scale a wall. Which he has done on occasion when playing.

Michael Broad said...

Hi Madeleine. Although I'd be surprised if he is a Bahraini Dilmun, it is possible because someone could have imported the cat. This sort of thing does go on quite a lot. Breeders do it to start a new cat breed or strengthen their breeding program.

Unknown said...

I think I have a Mixed Egyptian mau. How do you tell the difference between the cats? Is it her dark streak on her back that makes her a Mixed Egyptian mau? Brown and white with spots and stripes. Mom bronze

Unknown said...

I just red that the dilmun is only in Bahrain umbrella. I found her in texas

Unknown said...

Bahrain Dilmun

Michael Broad said...

Hi Laura, if you think your cat is an Egyptian Mau mix then the outcome of a mating between a purebred Egyptian Mau and another cat would depend on the other cat and its appearance. I am going to guess big time and suggest that your cat is possibly a beautiful random bred tabby cat. Why do you believe your cat is a purebred mix?

Unknown said...

After someone said she was an Egyptian mau after seeing a pic of her, I researched it. Very few cats have spots and stripes. The dark streak down her tail to her head made me think that the person who told me might be right. She has dark brown spots where her fur is brown. I also read that when they leap they land on their hind legs with are longer. She is afraid of my cats so I haven't been able to get a close look at her
I could tell that her mom's bone structure was different than my cats.

Michael Broad said...

Fair enough Laura. The Egytian Mau is a tabby cat which is why I made my suggestion. There is in infinite variety of tabby coats and spotted tabbies merge with mackerel tabbies often. So you can have stripes and spots on regular tabby cats. Thanks anyway and take care.

Unknown said...

Yes, that would be outside of Bahrain, unfortunately in Bahrain it's all too common especially when its kitten season.
I lived in Bahrain for nearly 5 yrs n I heard of lots of people feeding n adopting these beautiful cats. I picked my big spotted tabby and white dilmun boy up on a weekly food shopping trip in Nov 12, he was 4mths old full of cold n nr a big main road. Got him fixed up and never looked back, he's grown so big, huge legs, very long legs and such a lovely nature. His coat is so soft, but unlike his true Street relatives, he gets regular quality food.
He's a companion to my other street rescue from saudi, not an Arabian mau, just a normal moggy, and they love snuggling up together.
My Bahraini dilmun has tolerated 3 other rescued dilmun kittens in my time there, and even took to licking them, when he could pin them down, so wonderful to watch. I got them rehomed. I know there are a lot of dilmuns needing good homes there and at Tony, the dogfather's animal rescue. I'd love to have more beautiful dilmuns, one day.
But my 2 have just relocated with me to Queensland, and my Bahraini dilmun is already a talking point with at the local vets.
I wonder, does anyone know if the dilmun is going to become an official breed like the Egyptian mau amd the Arabian mau? Michelle

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Michael Broad said...

Thanks Michelle. There is no current intention to create a formal cat breed called the Bahraini Dilmun. I think the time for new cat breeds has passed. The peak years were in the 1950s and 60s.

Unknown said...

why was my comment removed - i didn't say anything bad

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

That's a shame, but the Dilmun's, official or not are beautiful

Michael Broad said...

Hi Michelle. I did not remove the comment. Not sure what happened.

Michael Broad said...

Are you sure you have seen one in Texas?

Tom Kingsley said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
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