The longhaired cat is one of Mother Nature's most beautiful creations. As colorful and diverse as their shorthaired kin, these luxuriously furred cats come in every shape, size, color and pattern.
Longhaired cats are frequently, but incorrectly, called Persian or Angora cats because two of the oldest and best-known types are known by those names. A Persian-type longhair has a short, compact body, a short tail, and a large, rounded head with a short nose and small ears. The Angora-type longhair is finer-boned with a longer body, legs and tail, smaller head, and larger ears than the Persian, and his coat is not as long and dense.
While the domestic longhair is not considered a breed as such, random-bred or mixed breed longhairs, with their healthy mix of genes and diverse personalities, coat types and body styles, make champion companions.
America's own longhaired breed, the Maine coon, is one of the oldest natural breeds in North America. These cats are tall, muscular, big-boned cats; males commonly reach 13 to 18 pounds, with females normally weighing about 9 to 12 pounds. Today the domestic longhair is second only to the domestic shorthair in popularity.Cost
Acquiring a domestic longhair is certainly easier and cheaper than getting a purebred. Cost varies depending upon the source. You can often get a free or nearly free domestic longhair from private parties who advertise in your local paper, but often this is not as good a deal as you think. In the long run it can be better to adopt a kitten or cat from your local shelter, SPCA, or rescue organization. Generally, people who allow their cats to breed indiscriminately will do little to ensure the health and socialization of the kittens. Then too, you'll be doing your part to end the pet overpopulation problem by not supporting people who allow their cats to breed.
Shelters and rescue organizations, on the other hand, see to it that the cats they adopt out are healthy and well socialized, and often test for serious diseases such as feline leukemia virus and feline AIDS. They also make certain that the cats are spayed and neutered. If you were to buy these services separately for your "free" kitten, it would cost you much more than the adoption fee.
Our nation's shelters are overflowing with lovely longhaired cats and kittens that would love the chance to share your life. Visiting your local shelter or humane society is an excellent way of getting your dream cat, and you'll feel good about saving a worthy cat from possible euthanasia.Selection
When choosing a domestic longhair kitten, look for a kitten that's healthy, curious, playful and alert. Look for clean, soft fur, and avoid kittens with a rough or dirty coat. A longhaired kitten will not yet have extremely long hair; the hair grows as the kitten matures. Spread the hairs and examine the roots of the fur. If you see tiny black particles clinging to the hairs, the kitten has fleas.
A healthy kitten's eyes are bright and clear and do not run, and the face shouldn't have tear stains. The kitten should not sneeze or wheeze, and her nose shouldn't run as this could be a sign of respiratory problems or illness. The ears should be clean and free of dark colored wax, and the kitten shouldn't shake her head or scratch at her ears. That's an indication of infection or ear mites. The anus should be free of fecal matter or evidence of diarrhea. Gently pry open the kitten's mouth. A healthy kitten's gums and mouth are pink with no sign of inflammation. The teeth are clean and white.
A kitten's temperament is equally important. Domestic longhairs are individuals and they behave according to their unique natures. In any given litter you'll notice a range of behavior. Observe the kittens before you choose. Tempt the kittens with a cat toy and see how they react. Look for a kitten that seems curious, friendly, intelligent and used to handling. Don't choose a kitten that cowers, runs away in terror, hisses, snarls or struggles wildly. Avoid a kitten that appears too passive or unresponsive as well. This could be a sign of health problems as well as temperament concerns. If all the kittens seem unaccustomed to human contact (provided they are more than six weeks old), go elsewhere. Kittens that have had little early human contact are less likely to form strong, trusting bonds with their human companions.
It's often hard to tell what kind of hair a kitten will have. A longhaired kitten's fur will usually appear slightly longer and be more fuzzy than the fur of a shorthair, but the fur length, texture, and density are difficult to predict. Seeing the parents is the best indicator. Otherwise, you'll have to wait and see how your little fur ball will blossom.Showing
While the cat associations give preference to purebreds, most associations have a category in which random-bred cats can compete. This is usually called the Household Pet Category (HHP). The purpose of the category is to promote appreciation of cats that are lovely, personable, and well cared for even if they don't have a piece of paper that tells who their parents are.
In the HHP category, cats are judged on overall beauty, personality, condition, balance, and proportion rather than on how well they measure up to a breed standard. Any color, pattern, hair length, and tail length is acceptable. This makes the judging much more subjective, so an appealing personality is even more important. An extroverted, easygoing, people-oriented cat is likely to do well. Grooming, health, and overall care are important, too. Your domestic longhair must be perfectly groomed before the show. HHPs must be spayed and neutered to compete.
In some associations, declawed cats cannot be shown, since some cat lovers feel this is a cruel and unnecessary procedure. Differently abled cats, however, can compete in some associations. TICA and ACFA, for example, accept HHP cats that have lost all or part of a limb, ear, or tail.
In most associations, household pets can earn points and gain titles. While different from the titles granted purebred cats, these titles indicate the cat has accumulated a number of points and has won particular awards. In TICA, for example, HHPs can earn the lofty titles of Master, Grand Master, and Double, Triple, Quadruple and Supreme Grand Master.
Cat clubs like the Happy Household Pet Cat Club (HHPCC), cater specifically to household pets. This international organization is open to all feline lovers and promotes the welfare of all cats, but their emphasis is on showing HHPs. This club gives national, regional and state awards and also bestows titles; your cat can work his way up to "Supremely Honored Housecat." Check out the HHPCC's website for an abundance of information on showing your domestic longhair: www.best.com/~slewis/HHPCC/.Association Acceptance
The following associations have a Household Pet (HHP) category that will allow you to show your domestic longhair:Titles and Awards American Association of Cat Enthusiasts (AACE)
American Cat Fancier's Association (ACFA)
Cat Fanciers' Federation (CFF)
Traditional Cat Association (TCA)
United Feline Organization (UFO)
Titles And Regional And National Awards
The International Cat Association (TICA)
Titles And National, Regional, And State Awards
Happy Household Pet Cat Club (HHPCC)
Can Compete But Not For Titles Or Awards
Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA)
For more information, please see the article Choosing a Domestic Longhair.