Comparing and Contrasting the World’s Many Different Cat Breeds
There are over 100 different recognizable cat breeds worldwide. Some originated naturally in specific places and are the products of random, or wild, breeding. Others have been selectively bred by humans to preserve certain features, such as body shape, facial structure, coat color and quality, and other distinctive characteristics.
A Look at Feline Genes
The domestic cats that we know, love, and live with today are the descendants of the wildcat. Originally common in Africa, Europe, and central Asia, wildcat genetics inform the color and quality of the fur.
Contrary to popular opinion, tabby is not a cat breed. Instead, this term refers to the pattern of a cat’s fur coat. Despite the color or markings you may or may not see, today’s cats all possess the tabby gene that came down from the African wildcat. Their coat may appear to be a solid color, but closer examination may reveal one of the five tabby patterns:
- Classic – Wide stripes, swirl pattern on the flanks.
- Ticked – Fur is softly flecked, with clear marking visible on the head, legs and tail.
- Spotted – Spots on the body with stripes on the tail and legs.
- Mackerel – Narrow, parallel stripes run down the spine to the flanks and belly.
- Patched – Commonly known as the tortoiseshell cat, a patched tabby shows a combination of any of the other four tabby classifications. Gold, orange, black, cream and reddish colors can be found on Cornish Rex, Persian and British Shorthair breeds.
Tabbies include an “M” shape on the head. Siberians, American Curls, and Australian Mist breeds can be reddish, silver, cream, black, and brown.
Other Types of Coat Patterns
Distinguishing between cat breeds can be done via an even closer look at the fur pattern and color. For instance, in addition to tabby and tortoiseshell coats, calico patterns can determine a cat’s ancestry which may include Persian, Scottish Fold, or even Maine Coon.
Cat breeds can be separated into long-haired or short-haired categories. Long-haired cat breeds include Persians, Himalayans, Maine Coons, and Ragdoll. Short-haired breeds include the popular Bengal, Bombay or Manx breeds.
Eyes, Ears and Head Shape
Cat breeds can also be grouped by the appearance of the face. Flat-faced breeds, like Persians, rounded wedge faced cats, like Bengals, or extreme wedge faced breeds like the Devon Rex can be easily identified.
Depending on your cat’s breed, they may have sharp, pointed triangular ears, folded ears, floppy ones, or ears that look like they’re barely there.
The shape and color of a cat’s eyes also play significant roles in breed identification. Round eyes appear spherical, whereas almond-shaped eyes are more elliptical. Furthermore, eye color is determined by genetics and can appear coppery brown, orange, yellow, green, and even blue.
All Cat Breeds Are Wonderful
If you don’t know your cat’s breed, it’s highly likely they are either a domestic shorthair or domestic longhair. If they were dogs, they might be lovingly referred to as “mutts”. Either way, they are amazing animals sure to bring you lots of love.
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