All About Exotic Cat Breeds

All About Exotic Cat Breeds

While you may love the majestic beauty of the lion, the tiger and the cheetah, you would never have them as pets. These wild cats are too dangerous to be kept as pets. But that desire to own a wild animal is what drove cat breeders to develop exotic cat breeds. These exotic cat breeds fulfill the desire for an exotic cat without the inherent danger.

When it comes to exotic cat breeds, the word “exotic” means that the cat is a wild species, or part wild (hybrids). These exotic cat breeds are wild, not domestic. Most of these species are extremely difficult if not impossible to litter train or house break. And spraying throughout the house by both males and females is a given.

Oftentimes an owner cannot handle the activity level, size and often destructive behavior of these exotic cat breeds. So be careful and think it through before jumping into ownership of an exotic cat breed.

Here are some of the most common exotic cat breeds.

Savannah

This is a relatively new breed that was recognized by The International Cat Association (TICA) in 2012. To create a Savannah cat, you must cross a domestic house cat with an African Serval. A Savannah is the largest of all domestic cats. It has an unusual appearance with an exotic spotted and striped coat. The Savannah can leap great distances. They are intelligent and curious creatures. It is illegal to own a Savannah in some states.

Bengal

Developed by crossing small Asian leopard cats with domestic cats, the Bengal looks like a leopard but it has the disposition of a domestic cat. This is a large cat with distinctive markings. Their stunning coats come in many patterns including spots, marbled and rosettes.

Abyssinian

With its unique ticked coat, the Abyssinian looks like an African wildcat. This cat is playful, intelligent and energetic.

Toyger

The Toyger is the result of trying to breed a house cat that looks like a tiger. This registered breed traces its lineage to domestic shorthairs and Bengals selected for their markings.

Ocicat

Resembling an ocelot in appearance, the Ocicat actually has no ocelot or any wild cat in its family tree. The breeder bred together cats with Abyssinian, Siamese and American shorthair lineages. Ocicats come in a variety of colors. They are best known for their spots, which can be tawny, chocolate, cinnamon, blue, lavender or fawn in color. This is a very social cat – there’s nothing wild about it.

Bombay

The Bombay looks like a miniature black panther, but don’t let that fool you. He has a calm and easy-going personality. This exotic breed was developed by crossing sable Burmese with black American Shorthairs.

Chausie

The Chausie was developed from hybrids of the Asian Jungle Cat. The average Chausie weighs in at around 18 pounds, but they can grow up to three feet long and weigh as much as 35 pounds.

Egyptian Mau

This exotic cat has a beautiful spotted coat and exotic mascara markings around the eyes. The breed, which originated in Egypt, probably descended from an African wildcat. The Egyptian Mau can run up to 30 mph.

Cheetoh

This is a fairly new breed of house cat. Crossing a Bengal and an Ocicat, it was developed in an attempt to breed a cat that looks like more of a wild cat but is still a gentle house pet. The Cheetoh is a very large cat. Healthy males can reach a weight of 23 pounds. This cat is tame and as safe around children as any other house cat.

Serengeti

The Serengeti cat is the result of breeding that was meant to resemble a wild Serval, but it does not contain any Serval bloodline. The first Serengeti cat was a cross between a Bengal and an Oriental shorthair. Since then, the progeny have been bred with many other types of cats to improve the breed – but never a Serval. The Serengeti cat has long ears and long legs. The exotic breed is active, agile and vocal.

Somali

This long-haired variety of the Abyssinian also has the appearance of an African wildcat. It has a bushy tail like a fox. This cat is very active, not a lap cat. The Somali has a clever and curious nature.

To learn more about exotic cats, go to Everything Cat Lovers Need to Know About Exotic Cats.

What You Need to Know About Legal Exotic Cats

The smaller sized exotic cats that are sometimes kept as pets in the United States are not animals that would tend to prey on humans. These legal exotic cats can make reasonable pets for the right owners, but they’re not for everyone. Let us tell you about some of the more popular exotic cat species that can legally be kept as pets in the United States.

Wild cat breeds are quite expensive, with prices ranging anywhere from $1,500 to $20,000. Also, the amount of money that you would have to spend on care and upkeep with legal exotic cats is much higher than you would pay for a regular cat breed. Veterinary expenses can also add up quickly as these cats require special health care from a veterinarian specializing in zoo animals.

If you are interested in owning one of these animals, you should find out about your state’s laws regarding the keeping of exotic cats.

Here are some of the most popular exotic cats.

Servals

Originating in Africa, servals are popular legal exotic cats in the USA. The serval has a spotted coat and its legs are long in comparison to its body. Some will compare the serval to a cheetah because of its appearance, but in actuality it is much shorter than a cheetah.

The serval is a medium-sized cat. Aloof and quiet, they will flee from average-sized humans and have never been known to kill a human. They prefer small animal prey such as birds, rodents or small antelopes.

The serval cat is not an avid climber, and as such it is easier to confine than some other legal exotic cats. It communicates primarily by hissing and on average will eat two to three pounds of meat a day.

Ocelot

Native to South America, the ocelot is a small wild cat with beautiful markings. These legal exotic cats are very rare in the pet trade, so they are difficult to acquire. Compared to other wild cats, they are more challenging to maintain as pets. An ocelot will not pay attention to disciplinary commands.

Bobcats

This stocky, medium-sized cat is native to North America. Of all the legal exotic cats, the bobcat will bond strongly with their owners. But bobcats possess the strength to kill an adult human. They are short and muscular, and they hunt fully-grown deer in the wild. This legal exotic cat should be heavily supervised around children or kept away from them altogether.

When a bobcat is raised in captivity, it can become lovable. Bobcats can even be friends with deer when raised with them since kittens. They are also very affectionate to dogs.

But never forget that bobcats are not harmless. They have their times of aggression, which is why they should be kept in a large, sturdy outdoor cage during these times.

Canadian Lynx

Native to the northern parts of North America, the Canadian Lynx has thick fur and is prone to shedding.

These legal exotic cats are active climbers, and they prefer to be at high points in the home. Because this is a climbing animal, their enclosures should be designed appropriately to contain the cat.

While the Canadian lynx does not form a devoted relationship with their human, they are easy going (their temperamental fits are less severe) and good with strangers. This cat is not eager to go on walks.

There is also a Siberian lynx which is a little different from the Canadian lynx.

Caracals

Native to Africa and Asia, the caracal is a type of lynx with a personality similar to a serval. Fully grown it will stand 16 to 17 inches at the shoulder and it will weigh 30 to 50 pounds.

Caracals communicate primarily by hissing, which can sound threatening. But they are somewhat well mannered with a traditional cat attitude. These legal exotic cats are known to play and interact with their owners, but strictly on their own terms. But be careful – their play can be destructive to furniture and household objects.

A caracal will eat about 2 to 3 pounds of meat per day and in captivity he will live to be about 17 years old.

Geoffroy’s Cat

This small cat is native to southern and central South America. Geoffroy’s cats are among the smallest wild cat species, weighing only 4 to 8 pounds when fully grown. Because of their small size they present no public safety threat to humans.

The Geoffroy’s cat is relatively rare in the cat trade. This cat can be rather timid and less social. They can become nervous and aggressive, especially when they reach sexual maturity.

Asian Leopard Cat

Shy and elusive, this nocturnal cat is wary of humans. They make poor house pets. They do best when left to themselves in a large enclosure. If humans interact with them often enough these legal exotic cats can be tame enough to interact with them.

Check Out These Exotic Shorthair Cats

Garfield, the lasagna-loving cartoon cat was said to be inspired by an exotic shorthair cat.

Exotic shorthair cats, also known as exotics, are the result of breeding a Persian with an American shorthair. If you love the look of the Persian cat but don’t want to burden yourself with the daily grooming that is required, the exotic may be the perfect cat for you. Exotic shorthair cats have the look of a Persian but with a short, plush coat that is very easy to care for.

This new breed was first developed in the 1950s in an attempt to bring the Persian’s silver color and green eyes to the American shorthair. The exotic shorthair cat was first referred to as a “Sterling” because of its silver coat color. But as more exotics were bred, other Persian coat colors began creeping in. At first the exotic shorthair cat was seen as controversial, but Persian breeders soon became intrigued with the new breed. Exotic shorthair cats were first recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association in 1967, and today they are recognized by all cat registries.

Exotic shorthair cats are basically a short-haired Persian. They are more lively than the laidback Persian, but for the most part they love to sit in their human’s lap. Affectionate with an easy-going personality, exotic shorthair cats are very undemanding. They are sweet companions that are also very loyal. The breed is playful and intelligent. Exotics will be quite playful and energetic in the kitten stage, but as they grow they will mellow.

Much like a Persian, the exotic shorthair cat prefers to be seen and not heard. These cats are extremely quiet.

Exotic shorthair cats are perfect for singles, families, seniors and multi-pet homes. They get along well with children and cat-friendly dogs. They can do well in either a rural or urban setting. This is one of the most affectionate cat breeds you will ever find. It is not unusual for an exotic shorthair cat to follow you around from room to room.

With its “teddy bear looks” and large expressive eyes, the exotic shorthair is a beautiful breed. This adorable cat has a round head, round eyes and a round body. It has short legs and a compact body.

Their short, plush coat comes in a variety of colors including white, blue, black, red, cream, chocolate and lilac. They also come in a variety of patterns including tabby, bicolor and tortoiseshell. They have a short coat that is still very luxurious, and their coat tends to shed very little. You should brush exotic shorthair cats weekly to keep their coats under control. Because of their dense coats, exotic shorthair cats become warm very easily. They like to sleep in cooler areas of the home to help regulate their body temperature.

This is a big cat that can grow up to 15 pounds.

This is a brachycephalic breed, which means that the face is short and broad with a flat muzzle. This can lead to some health problems, such as breathing, sinus and tear duct issues. Also, there can be some problems with tooth alignment because of the shape of the jaw. The breed is also prone to heat sensitivity.

Exotic shorthair cats come in different looks – extreme and traditional. Extreme exotics have a flatter face. Traditional exotics have a face that is not as flat, which means that they suffer from less breathing problems.

The breed also has a pedomorphic appearance, which means that its face maintains its kitten-like expression. This is a very cute cat. Combine that cuteness factor with its playful, easy-going and loveable nature, and the fact that it’s so easy to care for, and you’ll understand why the exotic shorthair cat is one of the top choices for pets.

An exotic can live to be 15 years of age or older.

To learn more about exotic shorthair cats, go to Choosing an Exotic.

To learn more about exotic cats, go to Everything Cat Lovers Need to Know About Exotic Cats.

Check Out These Exotic Longhair Cats

Exotic longhair cats are created out of Persian and Himalayan hybrids. They are a long-haired version of the exotic shorthair cat. Exotic longhair cats look like Persians with a flat face and lots of fluffy hair.

This exotic breed was first bred only as a shorthair version. The goal was to breed a cat that had the characteristics of the Persian, but with a shorter, plush coat. When shorthair cats were bred to Persians, the exotic shorthair cat was the result – but exotic longhair cats continued to be born to new litters. Exotic longhair cats were the occasional result of that long-haired Persian gene making itself dominant. When breeding an exotic longhair cat to an exotic shorthair cat, bot longhairs and shorthairs can occur. But when breeding two exotic longhair cats, only longhairs will occur.

Originating in the 1950s, this medium-sized cat has a very luxurious coat and tiny rounded ears. It is a sturdy breed with males weighing as much as 20 pounds or more. Female exotic longhair cats are smaller than the males.

The build of exotic longhair cats is stocky with a round body and short legs. There isn’t much definition to this cat’s physique – in fact, when they lie down and tuck their feet underneath themselves, all you see is fur. The most distinctive feature of the exotic longhair cat is its head and face.

Grooming can be a bit of a challenge with exotic longhair cats. Because they have long hair they need to be groomed on a regular basis. Their coats require daily combing to prevent mats and hairballs. Since these cats love to groom themselves, hairballs can be a real problem with exotic longhair cats.

Their coats come in a variety of colors including white, black and brown. They also come in a variety of patterns including solid, bicolor, calico and tabby. Their eyes can be yellow, gold, green, blue or copper in color.

Exotic longhair cats have a flat face and a snub nose (known as a brachycephalic breed), so they often have health issues related to the structure of their face. They can suffer from sinus issues, tear duct problems and Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome, which results in breathing difficulties.

Exotic longhair cats are great companions – sweet, gentle, affectionate and very loyal. They are very affectionate towards their owners. This is a good-natured cat with a great temperament. Exotic longhair cats live for love. They love playing with toys and cuddling up with their human companions. Exotic longhair cats are definitely lap cats. They are very much in tune with human emotions and are very devoted to their humans.

They are also good with children and other pets. Exotic longhair cats are great for singles, families, the elderly and multi-pet households. They also make good companions for those living in small spaces. But exotic longhair cats do not do well when left alone for long periods of time. So if you work long hours, this may not be the right cat for you.

To learn more about exotic cats, go to Everything Cat Lovers Need to Know About Exotic Cats.

Everything Cat Lovers Need to Know About Exotic Cats

If you’ve been wondering about exotic cats as pets, there are several things that you should know.

First, there are some domestic house cats that are exotic cats. These breeds, like the exotic longhair cat and the exotic shorthair cat, are very docile and they are very popular with cat owners.

On the other hand, exotic cats like bobcats are illegal in most states. In states that do allow exotic cats, a permit or license is often required and those permits are not usually given to pet owners. These exotic cats are expensive. Be prepared to pay anywhere from $1,500 to $20,000 depending on the cat.

If you have an exotic cat, it will need a large outdoor cage or a dedicated room. Exotic cats will mark their territory by spraying everything in sight, including walls and furniture.

Exotic cats must be treated by veterinarians who are experienced in treating zoo animals. Those vets can be hard to find and treatment may come at a very high price.

If you have issues with exotic cats, they are very difficult to rehome.

Owning these types of exotic cats is not a decision to be taken lightly. Exotic cats might seem like challenging animals, and rightly so. There is a big difference between owning a regular domesticated cat and an exotic cat. But for the adventurous pet owner with the income and the proper living situation, it can be a very rewarding experience.

Have you wondered what you would feed these types of exotic cats? Oftentimes they are fed raw, whole carcasses. Wet food is another good option and some dry food can also be included in the mix.

Check Out These Exotic Longhair Cats

There are some types of exotic cats that are domestic house pets. Exotic longhair cats are house cats. Created out of Persian and Himalayan hybrids, they are a long-haired version of the exotic shorthair cat.

Exotic longhair cats look like Persians with a flat face and lots of fluffy hair.

This exotic breed was first bred only as a shorthair version. The goal was to breed a cat which had the characteristics of the Persian, but with a shorter, plush coat. When shorthair cats were bred to Persians, the exotic shorthair cat was the result – but exotic longhair cats continued to be born to new litters. Exotic longhair cats were the occasional result of that long-haired Persian gene making itself dominant.

Originating in the 1950s, this medium-sized cat has a very luxurious coat and tiny rounded ears. It is a sturdy breed with males weighing as much as 20 pounds or more. Female exotic longhair cats are smaller than the males.

Exotic longhair cats are great companions – sweet, gentle, affectionate and very loyal. This is a good-natured cat with a great temperament. Exotic longhair cats live for love. They love playing with toys and cuddling up with their human companions. Exotic longhair cats are definitely lap cats. They are very much in tune with human emotions and are very devoted to their humans.

To learn more about exotic longhair cats, go to Check Out These Exotic Longhair Cats.

Check Out These Exotic Shorthair Cats

Exotic shorthair cats, also known as exotics, are the result of breeding a Persian with an American shorthair. If you love the look of the Persian cat but don’t want to burden yourself with the daily grooming that is required, the exotic may be the perfect cat for you. Exotic shorthair cats have the look of a Persian but with a short, plush coat that is very easy to care for.

Exotic shorthair cats are basically a short-haired Persian. They are more lively than the laidback Persian, but for the most part they love to sit in their human’s lap. Affectionate with an easy-going personality, exotic shorthair cats are very undemanding.

This is a big cat that can grow up to 15 pounds.

This is a brachycephalic breed, which means that the face is short and broad with a flat muzzle. This type of facial structure can lead to some health problems, such as breathing, sinus and tear duct issues. Also, there can be some problems with tooth alignment because of the shape of the jaw. The breed is also prone to heat sensitivity.

To learn more about exotic shorthair cats, go to Check Out These Exotic Shorthair Cats.

You can also read this article – Choosing an Exotic.

What You Need to Know About Legal Exotic Cats

The smaller sized exotic cats that are sometimes kept as pets in the United States are not animals that would tend to prey on humans. These legal exotic cats can make reasonable pets for the right owners, but they are not for everyone. Let us tell you about some of the more popular exotic cat species that can legally be kept as pets in the USA.

Choosing a Russian Blue

The Russian Blue, also known as the Archangel Cat, is a gentle, courteous cat that wears a perpetual Mona Lisa smile. This breed is a growing favorite with feline fanciers. Although currently still rare, an increasing number of cat lovers are discovering the joys of singing rhapsodies in blue. With his vivid green eyes, silver-blue coat and pleasing body style, the Russian Blue is a strikingly beautiful breed. And his pleasing personality and playful temperament make him a delightful companion.

History and Origin of Russian Blue Cats

The Russian Blue has been around long enough for its ancestry to be shrouded in legend and conjecture. According to accounts, the Russian Blue has existed for centuries in the White Sea port town of Archangel in northern Russia, about 150 miles from the Arctic Circle. No direct evidence exists to prove this, but the breed’s thick coat gives credence to the theory that they developed in a cold climate, and, according to reports, Blue shorthairs still exist in Russia today.

It’s thought that British sailors transported Russian Blue cats to Great Britain in the 1860s. At the first modern-day cat show held at London’s Crystal Palace in 1871, a Russian Blue was shown under the name “Archangel Cat.” Early photos show the cat as a solid blue feline of foreign type with a short, dense, glossy coat. Besides Archangel Cat, in the past, the breed was also known as the Spanish Blue, Foreign Blue and Maltese Blue. Over the years, the term “Maltese” came to mean any solid blue cat.

In 1912, the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) acknowledged that the Russian Blue was distinctly different from the British Blues with which it had been competing and granted the breed a class of its own. The breed made good progress until World War II when it almost ceased to exist. While people were struggling to stay alive, maintaining their cats’ bloodlines wasn’t their main priority.

During the 1940s and 1950s, two breeder groups, one in Britain and one in Scandinavia, worked to save the breed from extinction by crossbreeding the few hardy survivors with other breeds like the Blue Point Siamese and the British Blue. In 1965, a group of British breeders began efforts to restore the Russian Blue to its original appearance by breeding together the lines developed in Scandinavia and Britain.

The Russian Blue arrived in America in the early 1900s, but it was not until the 1960s that serious attempts at promoting and developing the breed began. Imports from Britain helped improve the U.S. stock, and today America’s Russian Blue is considered so highly that examples of the breed have been sent to Europe to improve their bloodlines. While still uncommon, the Russian Blue has gained an enthusiastic following both in North America and in nearly every other continent of the world.

Appearance of a Russian Blue

The Russian Blue’s body style is “foreign,” which means long, lithe and slender. While appearing slim, the Russian Blue is actually quite muscular and strong and can leap to the top of the tallest bookcase with ease. Its head is wedge-shaped, but the face appears broader than it actually is because of the wide set of the eyes and the thick facial fur. The large ears are also set far apart and are wide at the base. The slight upturn to the corners of the mouth makes Russian Blues appear to be forever smiling at some secret joke. The eyes are always vivid green.

This breed’s most distinctive feature – its beautiful coat – is silky, plush and so dense it stands out from the body. The thick undercoat gives the coat its density, and no doubt helped protect the cat from the harsh winters in its native land.

The Russian Blue, as one might expect, comes in only one color and pattern – solid blue. The color that cat fanciers call blue is actually gray to the rest of us. The coat’s outer hairs are decorated with silver tipping that reflects light, giving the coat a silvery sheen. Although blue is the only color accepted by the North American registries, other colors are accepted in other countries. The Australian Cat Federation (ACF), for example, accepts the Russian in blue, black, and white.

Russian Blue Cat’s Personality

Russian Blues are gentle, reserved cats that usually can be found under the bed when strangers come to call. Russian Blues like their usual routine and dislike environmental changes more than the average cat. With their own chosen humans, however, they are playful and affectionate and develop close bonds of loyalty and love. Active but not annoyingly so, Russian Blues like nothing better than retrieving a tossed cat toy or chasing sunbeams for your amusement. Agile and light-footed, Blues pussyfoot about the house with the grace of small, furry dancers.

Not Just a Cat: Your Guide to Discovering Your Cat’s Breed

Have you ever been curious about your cat’s breed? If you asked your cat, he might say that he is quite unique and unlike any other feline. Only 41 pedigreed breeds are recognized by the Cat Fancier’s Association, however. Therefore, your cat shares some traits with other felines around the world. Just don’t tell him that.

Is It Important to Know Your Cat’s Breed?

Unless you’re hoping to raise and sell pedigreed cats or enter your pet in shows, it’s not necessary to know the breed. Your cat is part of your family, though. Understanding its ancestry is like meeting a long-lost great aunt. It may help you better appreciate your pet’s quirks. You might identify some behavioral patterns that are breed-specific. Knowing your cat’s breed may even help you forgive her antisocial behavior around your own great aunt.

Purebred Cats

According to the Cat Fancier’s Glossary, a pedigree is a document verifying a cat’s ancestors. If all of the ancestors belong to the same breed, the cat is a purebred. A pedigreed cat will come with papers that are formally issued by a cat-registering association. Unless some very unfortunate soul’s purebred cat ran away and ended up on your doorstep, chances are your cat doesn’t have a pedigree.

To enter a feline in cat shows, you need official papers for the animal. Even if a purebred cat did end up in a shelter, it wouldn’t regain pedigreed status unless there were a proven way to identify the breeder. Therefore, you may not be able to show the cat under a specific breed category. You still might be able to enter the cat under another category, though.

But My Cat Has Very Striking Features!

We all know that your cat is gorgeous. It may have some features that resemble those of a specific breed, such as the following:

  • Siamese – Siamese cats have very short hair and blue eyes. Modern Siamese cats have long, lanky bodies, elongated faces, and large ears. They’re very loyal and vocal when they’re left alone.

  • Maine Coon – Maine Coon cats have tufts at the top of the ears and bushy tails. They tend to be very vocal and “talk” with their owners.

  • Persian – Persian cats have boxy faces with short noses. They typically have long hair and stocky bodies. Persians tend to have gentle, easygoing personalities.

  • Himalayan – Himalayan cats look like Persians, but they have a pointed color pattern. That means that their bodies are a pale, uniform color, and their legs, noses, and ears are darker.

  • Burmese – Burmese cats like attention. They’re very loving, but they’ll tell you if they feel like they’re not getting enough love in return. They will often fetch toys, and they can be as loyal as man’s best friend.

Identifying cat breeds can be tricky. The particular qualities of one breed could be covered in a single encyclopedia volume. Just because your cat has similar characteristics as a particular breed, it’s not necessarily part of that breed. It could be a mix. It could also have been cross-bred so many times that its coloring and temperament are random.

The primary identifiers are the cat’s coloring, markings, and coat length. You can weed out some breeds just by determining whether your cat has long or short hair. Nevertheless, some breeds do include short and long-haired versions.


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Your Cat Is Most Likely to Be One Of These Breeds

The two most popular and common cat breeds are Domestic Shorthair or Domestic Longhair breeds. They can’t be pedigreed or registered with a cat association. Then again, these American cat breeds account for more than 95 percent of feline pets in the U.S. Many cat shows have Domestic Shorthair and Longhair categories.

These popular cat types shouldn’t be confused with the American Shorthair, or ASH, and the British Shorthair, or BSH. These are pedigreed breeds that come in many different colors and may look just like any housecat.

ASH cats came to the U.S. on European ships. Many of them ended up living in barns in New England. They’re highly adaptable, strong, and hardy.

Choosing a Siamese

The Siamese is the most universally recognized domestic cat breed on the planet and one of the oldest, with a history as colorful as the cat herself. These sleek, vocal cats with big baby-blue eyes and striking pointed pattern originated hundreds of years ago in Siam (now Thailand), where they were held in high esteem. According to legend, for generations the kings of Siam kept Siamese cats in the royal palace. Siamese were considered worthy companions for Siam’s royalty and religious leaders.

History and Origin of Siamese Cats

The Siamese has been around for many centuries. The Siamese is described and depicted in the Cat-Book Poems, a manuscript written in the city of Ayudha, Siam, sometime between 1350 when the city was founded and 1767 when the city was destroyed by invaders. The illustrations in the manuscript clearly show cats with slim bodies and legs and pale-colored coats with dark coloring on the ears, tails and feet.

In 1871, Siamese cats were first exhibited in Britain in the first modern-day cat show at London’s Crystal Palace, where they were disparagingly described as an “unnatural, nightmare kind of cat.” Nevertheless, the Siamese rapidly became popular among British fanciers. By the early 1900s, the Siamese had made the move to America, where the breed quickly became popular with American cat lovers as well. The breed is now the most popular shorthair in America, and third most popular breed overall, according to CFA’s registration statistics.

Siamese Cat’s Appearance

The most striking feature of a Siamese (next to her big blue eyes) is the point-restricted coat pattern, for which the breed is famous. This means that the body of the cat is always a light color while the face, tail, paws and ears (the points) are always a darker color.

The point-restricted pattern is caused by a gene that reduces the amount of pigment in the hair. The pattern is controlled by an enzyme that produces greater depth of color at the areas farthest away from the heart. The skin temperature of the body’s extremities is a few degrees lower than the rest of the body, and therefore attracts more pigmentation. The body hair contains little pigment, but the “points” of the body – the face, tail, feet and ears – contain more.

The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) recognizes the Siamese in only four colors: seal point, blue point, chocolate point and lilac point. However, other cat associations accept additional colors including red point, cream point, cinnamon point, fawn point, tortie point, lynx point and tortie lynx point. In the CFA, these colors of Siamese are considered a separate breed called the colorpoint shorthair. Most of the other cat associations, however, consider these cats to be simply color variations of the Siamese.

The Siamese is a shorthaired cat. The longhaired version is considered a separate breed, called the Balinese. This breed is also pointed. In the CFA, the Balinese comes is seal point, blue point, chocolate point and lilac point. The longhaired version of the Siamese with other color points is referred to as the Javanese, considered yet another separate breed by the CFA. Other cat organizations do not consider the Javanese to be a separate breed but merely an extension of the Balinese.

Two body types exist. The show Siamese is characterized by a long, elegant, svelte body, refined, tapering lines, and a long, tapering wedge-shaped head. The ears are strikingly large and pointed, the eyes slanted and almond-shaped, and the tail whip-long and tapered to a fine point. This variety enjoys championship competition status in most of the cat associations.

The traditional or old-style Siamese (also known as the Applehead) is a medium- to large-sized robust cat with a muscular build and substantial bone structure. The head is rounded rather than wedge-shaped, and the ears are medium-sized and rounded at the tips.

Personality of a Siamese

The Siamese are well known for their talent for communicating with their human friends. If you crave peace and quiet when you return home from earning the cat food, this breed may not be for you. The Siamese’s loud raspy yowl can be a bit annoying to some, but Siamese fanciers value the breed’s skill at communication. Siamese are masters at human manipulation with their attention-getting yowls and their belief that the world rotates around them.

Shoulder perchers and cat toy fetchers, Siamese are social and dependent upon their human companions. They are intelligent and loyal and crave attention, affection and active involvement in your life. If left alone too often, they pine. Once you develop a close relationship, however, you have a loving and devoted companion for life.

Choosing a Manx

To some folks, a cat without an elegant and expressive tail to lash with anger, frizz with fear and hold high with self-assurance is missing an indispensable part of its character. Manx lovers are not of this mind, however, and the enthusiastic fanciers of this breed assert that the Manx has as much feline character as any tailed cat, and maybe more. This round, huggable breed so well known for its want of tail is long on personality and has a long, fascinating history to match.

History & Origin of Manx Cats

The Manx has existed for many centuries on the Isle of Man, a small island located in the Irish Sea midway between Liverpool, England, and Belfast, Ireland. Since the Isle had no indigenous feline species from which the Manx could develop, domestic cats must have been introduced by human settlers and explorers, but who and when is not known. Some believe that the Manx is descended from British shorthairs, which is likely given the proximity of Britain to the Isle. Many trading vessels stopped at the Isle, however, so the Manx’s ancestors could have come from another part of the world.

Geneticists believe that the Manx’s lack of a tail is the result of a spontaneous natural mutation that occurred within the Isle’s domestic cat population. Given the Isle’s closed environment and small gene pool, the dominant gene that governs the Manx’s lack of tail easily passed from generation to generation. But no one knows for sure when this happened, or even if the mutation occurred on the island itself.

What we do have are myths and legends to account for the Manx’s lack. According to one such tale, the Manx is a cross between a cat and a rabbit (for the record, that’s biologically impossible). Another story claims that Irish invaders stole the cats’ tails to use for their helmet plumes, and forever after the cats nipped off the tails of their kittens to protect them from the thieves. A third says two cats were passengers on Noah’s ark, but as they were late in boarding, Noah slammed the door on their tails.

Max Cat’s Appearance

The Manx is the only breed of truly tailless cat. The overall impression of the Manx is that of roundness, enhanced by the lack of tail. From the round head and prominent cheeks to the round rump and rounded, muscular thighs, the Manx is a sturdy, solid, roly-poly cat. The chest is broad, the front legs short and substantial, and the back short and arching from shoulders to rump. The hind legs are much longer than the forelegs, causing the rump to be considerably higher than the shoulders. Male Manx usually weigh 10 to 12 pounds and females usually weigh eight to 10.

The coat is glossy, short and dense, and possesses a cottony undercoat that gives the Manx a well-padded appearance. The Cymric (KIM-rick), the longhaired version of the Manx, is identical to the Manx in every way except hair length. The Cat Fanciers’ Association considers the longhaired Manx to be a division of the Manx breed, but most other associations consider it a breed in its own right.

The “Manx gene” produces a variety of tail lengths. Tail types are broken into four classifications: rumpy, rumpy-riser, stumpy, and longy. Rumpies are highly prized by show enthusiasts, since this is the type favored in the show ring. They are completely tailless, and often have a dimple at the base of the spine where the tail would normally begin. Rumpy-risers have a short knob of tail that consists of one to three vertebrae connected to the last bone of the spine. Risers can be shown if the vertical rise of the tail doesn’t stop the judge’s hand when the cat is stroked. Stumpies have a short tail stump that is often curved or kinked; stumpies are usually pet quality. Longies have tails that are almost as long as an average cat’s. Many breeders dock the tails of these pet-quality kittens to make them easier to place and also to avoid a manifestation of the Manx gene, which causes the tail vertebrae to ossify in later years, causing great pain.

Manx’s Personality

The Manx may be short of tail, but it’s long on personality. Fans say Manx get their feelings across very well without a tail to swish. Intelligent, even-tempered and adaptable, Manx cats form strong bonds of love and trust with their chosen humans. While they usually choose one special person, they get along well with all family members, including children, other cats and even dogs. Manx adapt well to most situations. They are playful, too, and enjoy a good game of fetch. Manx are fascinated by water – possibly from all those years surrounded by it on the Isle of Man. Manx are exceptional jumpers because of their powerful back legs, and no cupboard or shelf is safe from the curiosity of the Manx. If given the opportunity, Manx become good mousers.

Choosing a Domestic Longhair

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. Hair length and texture vary greatly as well. 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. These longhaired beauties deserve just as much love, quality care and respect as the finest grand champion Persian.

According to a new study sponsored by the Pet Food Institute, the number of pet cats in America reached a new high in the year 2000, and Americans owned more than 75 million pet cats. Of those approximately one in 10 is longhaired, although that can depend upon the area. That means Americans own approximate 750,000 domestic longhairs.

History and Origin of Domestic Longhair Cats

Although the first domestic cats were shorthairs, longhaired domestics have been with us for thousands of years. Since the species from which the domestic cat arose, Felis silvestris lybica, is a shorthaired feline, somewhere along the bloodline a mutation occurred that caused the hair to grow longer. This mutation increased the period of hair growth so that the fur reached a longer length before entering the dormant phase. The mutation probably occurred spontaneously in an isolated, cold environment where a longer, insulating coat would give the cat a better chance of surviving. Experts suggest that this may have occurred in a mountainous plateau in eastern Turkey, since longhaired cats have been found there for thousands of years. The mutation may have occurred separately in Russia as well.

Longhaired cats were transported from Turkey to Europe in the late 1500s. Later, Russian longhairs were imported into England and from there, they spread to all corners of the globe. They arrived in the New World with the pilgrims or shortly thereafter, and their long fur helped them survive the harsh New England winters. These cats developed shaggy, all-weather coats and large bodies and became the ancestors of America’s own longhaired breed, the Maine coon. These hardy longhaired feline immigrants moved across the country with the European settlers and established themselves in all parts of the country. Today the domestic longhair is second only to the domestic shorthair in popularity.

Appearance of a Domestic Longhair

The variety of the domestic longhair knows no bounds. They come in all shapes and sizes, colors and patterns, and hair lengths and textures. Some longhairs have relatively short, close-lying body hair but sport elegant tail plumes, some have semi-long fur, and still others have ultra-long fur. The texture and thickness of the undercoat affect the cat’s appearance as well. Cats with dense undercoats have much fuller coats. Even if their hair is not terribly long, the undercoat makes the fur stand out from the body, making the cat appear large. Many longhairs sport impressive neck ruffs and longer facial hair that gives the head a broader appearance. Lynx-like ear tufts sometimes decorate the ears, and toe tufts adorn the feet.

Although longhairs come in the same colors and patterns as the domestic shorthair, some colors and patterns are particularly dramatic on the longhair. For example, longhaired cats have the hair length to show off the dramatic coloring of shaded and smoke colors. The shaded silver, with its darker shading at the hair tip and lighter color on the shaft, is particularly impressive.

Sometimes, a domestic longhair will resemble a particular pedigreed breed. For example, a domestic longhair can possess the colorpoint pattern of the Himalayan, or the shaggy brown tabby coat resembling the Maine coon. However, these cats merely take after their pedigreed cousins and are random-bred domestics rather than purebreds that found their way into the domestic cat population.

Domestic Longhair Cat’s Personality

Shorthaired cats are more popular and will always be more numerous because the gene for long hair is recessive, while the gene for short hair is dominant. A cat must have two copies of the longhair gene to have long hair. One copy of the shorthair gene and one of the longhair gene will produce a shorthaired cat. However, a shorthaired cat that has one copy of the longhair gene can still pass that gene onto his or her offspring. When mated to another shorthair with one copy of the longhair gene, about 25 percent of the kittens will have long hair, and about half will have short hair but carry the longhair gene. When mated to a longhair, about half the kittens will be longhairs, and the other half will be shorthairs carrying the longhair gene. When mated to a shorthair that doesn’t possess the longhair gene, all the kittens will have short hair but about half will carry the longhair gene. In this way the longhair gene can be passed from generation to generation, often without anyone knowing it’s there.