Friday 5 August 2011

Assessing Cat Breed Popularity

The popularity of cat breeds is a slightly contentious subject. The difficulty arises because there are various ways of deciding which breeds are the most popular.

The Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA), a very well established and large cat association, say the Persian cat is the most popular. This has been the case for a very long time at the CFA. They base their assessment on the number of registrations. By that I presume they mean the number of individual cats that are registered with their associations. That means that there are more Persian cats registered at the CFA than any other breed. Incidentally, I cannot find that information on their website but it is common knowledge.

The International Cat Association (TICA), the other large American cat registry, says that the Savannah cat is the fourth most popular. I was told that by a visitor to this website. They, too, probably base their assessment on registrations because they have no other way of assessing unless they do what I do and ask the public, the people who buy cats, what they think through an online poll.

In the UK, the GCCF say that the British Shorthair is the most registered cat breed with their registry. The Bengal cat is losing ground.

The results of the poll are published above in a bar chart that shows the top ten most popular. The Maine Coon heads the list and the list shows us that the public prefer the very long established breeds. This is to be expected because they are the cat breeds that people have heard about.

There are over 100 cat breeds but many are on not mainstream. The general public probably would only know of about ten or less if asked.

My poll has had 4328 votes as at mid-July of 2011 - a good number and I would hope that it is representative of the opinion of the general population. It is also a world poll. In other words anyone, anywhere can vote. It represents the public's world viewpoint.

The CFA assessment represents USA breeder's. It is a reflection of what USA breeders are doing. Obviously if they are breeding more Persians there should be more customers (supply and demand). So the number of registrations should reflect the public's viewpoint as well.

But it is an indirect connection rather than a direct vote. We don't know that all the cat's registered at a cat association are sold to customers. In fact it is certain that they are not. There three other points worth making:

  1. The size of the cat association is relevant. Smaller cat associations will have non-representational data. In fact all the associations have some regional affiliations and;
  2. The CFA, for example, does not register the Bengal or Savannah cats (in fact, all wildcat hybrids). That distorts figures.
  3. The CFA has in my opinion always favored certain breeds including the flat-faced Persian. This also distorts numbers.
My argument is that my poll is more reliable! I would say that but I genuinely believe it is because of its simplicity and directness. And, incidentally, I make sure that every vote is genuine (i.e. no multiple votes are allowed).

Lastly, the Savannah cat could and perhaps should be the most popular cat breed. On my poll the Savannah cat is ranked 12th most popular. This is a fantastic achievement for such an exotic cat. I suspect that the "man on top of the Clapham omnibus" (average person) would not consider adopting a Savannah until now. Their popularity is climbing.

You can see the full list of votes for 66 cat breeds by clicking on this link.
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