How many cat breeds are there?

There are at least 104 cat breeds as a reasonable estimate as at 2011 - see the video below. I cannot give you an exact number. This because although there are far less than 100 in the way of mainstream cat breeds recognised by the main cat associations there are also little known breeds that are not formally recognised. Do we include all of these? In all there have been at one time or another about 500 so called cat breeds taking into account failed experiments, unregistered cats and alternate names etc.



A case in point is the Prussian Rex, a single cat born in Germany. The Prussian Rex was not a cat breed but is sometimes stated as being one. And currently we have the "Brooklyn Wooley" bred by Sarah Sweet. This is a curly haired cat (rex cat) that appeared in a litter of Siamese cats born in Brooklyn, New York. Sarah called the cat "Wooley". I suppose this is after a woolly appearance. The cat is with a TICA official the chairperson of the TICA genetics committee, Dr Solveig Pflueger, for evaluation (there appears to be more than one cat however). Is this a cat breed yet? Arguably, no, because the cat is not yet recognized as a breed.

The Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA), who take a conservative stance, recognize 40 cat breeds (2011) while The International Cat Association (TICA) recognize 57 cat breeds. These are championship breeds. That is another complication. Some breeds are provisionally accepted but not yet progressed to championship status.

Another complication is that some cat associations merge what other cat associations regard as two breeds. And sometimes a long haired variety of the same cat with short hair is considered a different breed (i.e. the Balinese being a long haired Siamese) by some associations and not others.

Yet another complication is the naming of the cat breeds. In some instances the UK cat associations name breeds differently to the USA.

And yet another complication is the divergence from traditional cat breeding to modern cat breeds. These are extreme or ultra type breeds. The traditional Siamese is not a modern Siamese. These are two breeds - or are they?

These factors make the counting of cat breeds more an art than a science or simply a guesstimate! As I said, about 100 is a decent figure.

Incidentally there are many more dog breeds because the dog was domesticated thousands of years before the cat and selective breeding to create breeds also began earlier. There are 169 recognised by the American Kennel Club, as I understand it. This is more than three times the number of mainstream cat breeds. There will be many more lesser know dog breeds I suspect.

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