Ceylon cat photo copyright www.zivotinjsko carstvo.com See note at base.
I had never heard of the Ceylon cat until recently. This is a rare cat in respect of the world cat fancy but seems to be much better known in Italy, where it is a breed recognized by the FIAF - Italian Federation of Feline Associations.
First things first. Ceylon is now Sri Lanka. Ceylon became Sri Lanka in 1972.
This map shows where Sir Lanka is. Published under a Wikimedia license. author, Vardion - see Wikipedia license.
A cat called the Ceylon cat would imply that this cat was "discovered" by the cat fancy in the west before 1972, some time ago. The 1960s was the decade when the most cat breeds were created in the 20th century (15). However, it seems that Dr. Paolo Pellegatta, an Italian, visited Sri Lanka in 1984 and liked the cat he saw so much he brought the cat back to Italy. The 1980s were also a productive period for the commencement of cat breeds when 12, now widely recognized breeds, were started.
I have no knowledge of the background of the cat brought back except that the cat is described as a "natural breed that has developed spontaneously on the island of Sri Lanka". At first I thought that this meant that the cat is a feral cat, semi-feral cat or a domestic cat on Sri Lanka. On that basis, is possible to say that this was a naturally occurring "cat breed"? I don't think a mixed breed cat (moggie) that is unrecognized by any cat association can be a cat breed. I think it is more sensible, to be honest, to simply say that a mixed breed cat that had certain characteristics was imported from Sri Lanka.
However, I think that I may be simply wrong as one source of information (http://www.agraria.org/gatti/ceylon.htm) says that imported Ceylon cats from Sri Lanka need an a certificate of origin and authenticity from what seems to be a cat association in Italy, Cat Club Amatori of Ceylon or CLUB AMATORI DEL GATTO DI CEYLON. This would seem to say that the imported cats are a cat breed in Sri Lanka.
The Ceylon cat is quite small (medium small) and looks elegant and fine boned; a nice natural looking cat in fact. I am not sure how much of the appearance is due to the breeding program. This cat breed is nicely balanced not extreme in any way, which is pleasing for me to see. It seems that the wise intention is to preserve the traditional appearance of this cat.
This cat is registered with the World Cat Federation (WCF). The WCF Ceylon Cat breed standard says that this cat is small to medium sized. The head is rounded, short and broad with pronounced cheek bones. The ears should be large and set high on the head. The eyes should be large and set wide apart. The coat should be fine close lying and silky in texture. The acceptable ticking colors are black, blue, red, cream, tortioiseshell and blue tortie.
As a matter of interest it is said that the imported cat was kept in an air conditioned room or area that reproduced the same temperature and humidity as Sri Lanka, a very hot and humid country (I presume to ease the introduction to a new environment). It would seem that other cats of a similar type were also imported from Sri Lanka to Italy and a breeding program commenced. The program progressed and a breed standard drafted in 1988.
As to coat type the classic Ceylon cat has a dark ticked coat with banding on the legs and tail and classic "M" tabby pattern on the forehead as shown in the heading photograph. In this conformation the cat is called the "Manilla", I believe. The standard however allows a wide range of colors and patterns as I understand it (including the pointed pattern - i.e. Siamese appearance). The Abyssinian cat is the bearer of the best known ticked coat, which is a special kind of tabby cat coat.
From Ceylon cat to Abyssinian Cat
Photo: I have taken the liberty of publishing a photograph of this cat from the website www.zivotinjsko carstvo.com. A link has been provided in exchange which I hope is acceptable. If not, please leave a comment and I will take prompt action.
Note: the information gathered for this post came substantially from Italian websites translated by Google. These translations although very helpful are not always easy to understand, hence the caution shown in drafting this.
Ceylon cat - Sources: