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.


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.

Choosing an Ocicat

If you are looking for a feline that resembles an exotic spotted jungle cat but has the sweet personality of a domestic, the ocicat may be right for you. Unlike breeds like the Bengal, only domestic cats were used in the breed’s foundation. Created by crosses between Siamese, Abyssinian and American shorthairs, this spotted feline may look like a fierce little leopard, but under the spots the ocicat is pure pussycat.

History and Origin of Osicats

The ocicat was developed in 1964 by accident, when Siamese breeder Virginia Daly, of Michigan, crossed a seal point Siamese female with a ruddy Abyssinian male in the hopes of developing an Abyssinian-pointed Siamese. The first litter of kittens all looked like their Abyssinian father, since the Abyssinian pattern and coloration are dominant over the Siamese pattern and colors. Next, Daly bred one of the female half-Aby, half-Siamese kittens to a chocolate point Siamese male. The resulting litter gave her the Aby-pointed Siamese she was trying to achieve. However, the litter also contained an ivory male with golden spots and striking copper eyes, which Daly named “Tonga.” Daly’s daughter dubbed him an ocicat because of his resemblance to a baby ocelot (an American wildcat).

Daly began an ocicat breeding program using Abyssinians and Siamese, and worked to turn this happy accident into a recognized breed. Later, American shorthairs were added to introduce the color silver and give the breed a larger, more muscular body. The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) and The International Cat Association (TICA) both accepted the ocicat for championship competition in 1987. All North American associations now recognize the breed.

In 1986, the gene pool was closed to Siamese and American shorthair outcrosses. However, Abyssinians are still used in ocicat breeding programs and will be until January 1, 2005. This will help keep the gene pool large and healthy.

Osicat’s Appearance

The breed is large, athletic and long-bodied with substantial bone structure and muscle development, exuding power and grace. The legs are long and muscular, the torso solid and hard, and the cat has surprising weight for his/her size. Combined with a loose-shouldered hunter-like stride and vivid eyes that gleam with intelligence and cunning, this breed reminds you that our domestic felines were wildcats only a few thousand years ago.

The coat is short and glossy, and show quality ocicats possess round or thumbprint-shaped spots that come in 12 colors, including tawny, chocolate, cinnamon, blue, lavender, fawn and six shades of silver. The spotting pattern is distinctly different from the other four spotted breeds: the Egyptian mau, Bengal, California spangled and pixie bob. The spots are arranged in a bull’s-eye pattern, courtesy of the classic tabby pattern from which the spotted pattern originated. Too, the ocicat is an agouti or “ticked” breed, courtesy of her Abyssinian ancestors; look closely and you’ll see that each hair is decorated with bands of alternating color, ending with a dark tip. The forehead bears the classic tabby “M.” All eye colors are allowed except blue.

Other patterns such as classic, mackerel and ticked tabby are also produced in most ocicat breeding programs, but ocicats without spots are not show quality and are usually sold as pets.

Personality of an Osicat

Ocicats are active, curious and athletic, and have a highly honed hunting instinct. Like their Abyssinian and Siamese ancestors, ocicats are energetic and talkative and are perfect for those who like playful, lively, interactive cats. They’re people-oriented and affectionate, too, and display a strong devotion to their human companions. Like their Siamese ancestors, ocicats can be quite vocal when something is frightfully wrong like empty food dishes, but they aren’t as loud or annoying as their Siamese predecessors.

Highly intelligent, ocicats thoroughly know their names and can be taught a variety of tricks usually reserved for the canine crowd, including coming on command and playing fetch. In fact, some owners claim their ocicats are too clever. Prospective owners should be aware that ocicats have a talent for mischief and can be hard on fragile household items. Not even the highest shelf is out of reach for the athletic ocicat. These are not good pets for folks who like couch potato cats.

Like the Siamese, ocicats are very dependent on their human companions and need human interaction. If you work all day and play all night, another breed would be a better choice. However, if they are provided with a cat companion, ocicats can do quite well while waiting for you to come home from work. Just remember that two ocicats can get into twice as much mischief as one.

How to Groom an Osicat

Ocicats need very little grooming. Their sleek, short coats need only an occasional brushing to remove dead hairs. Avoid slicker type metal brushes as these can damage the ocicat’s beautiful coat.

Association Acceptance

Choosing a Havana Brown

One of the cat fancy’s best kept secrets, the Havana brown, first strikes you as an elegant cat with brilliant emerald green eyes in a setting of fur the color of chocolate kisses. Wrapped in that blanket of rich brown fur, however, is a feline with a personality that would enchant any cat lover. Fanciers say Havanas are charming companions with exceptionally devoted temperaments. However, contrary to their name, Havanas are in no way related to the island of Cuba.

History and Origin of Havana Brown Cats

Like the Siamese, the Havana brown originates in the mysterious land of Siam, according to a manuscript of verses and illustrations called The Cat-Book Poems. This manuscript was written in the city of Ayudha, Siam, sometime between 1350, when the city was founded, and 1767 when the city was razed by invaders. Solid brown cats were considered very beautiful and were believed to protect their owners from evil.

In the 1800s, solid brown cats and the pointed pattern Siamese were transported from Siam to Britain. Early reports describe these brown cats as “Siamese with coats of burnished chestnut with greeny-blue eyes.” At first, the solid browns were popular. Fanciers exhibited them in Europe in the late 1800s and early 1900s. However, in the 1920s, Britain’s Siamese Cat Club no longer permitted the breeding of any but blue-eyed Siamese. Without the club’s support, interest in the green-eyed solid browns dwindled.

However, interest in the solid browns didn’t completely disappear. In the early 1950s, a group of English breeders reproduced them by breeding black domestic shorthairs to chocolate point Siamese, and Russian blues to seal point Siamese. In 1958, the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) accepted the breed for championship under the name “Chestnut brown foreign.” Later, the breed was renamed “Havana.”

The first Havana reached the United States in 1956, a female with the grand name of Roofspringer Mahogany Quinn. This cat became the mother of this continent’s Havana brown – almost all Havana browns in North America have Roofspringer somewhere in their ancestry. The breed was first recognized in 1959 under the name Havana brown and in 1964, the CFA granted the breed championship status. Today, the breed has championship status in almost all North American associations.

In Europe, the Havana still exists, but it is very different from the North American Havana brown. This breed is what we would call a chestnut Oriental shorthair – similar in color to the Havana but with a Siamese body style.

Appearance of a Havana Brown

Havanas are not as svelte as the modern Siamese, but they have a grace all their own. The Havana’s conformation falls midway between the stocky Persian type and the extremely svelte Siamese type, but leans more toward the elegant, slender side.

The Havana’s head shape is unique in the cat fancy. It is longer than it is wide and narrows to a rounded, somewhat narrow muzzle with a pronounced break on both sides behind the whisker pads. This unique muzzle shape is sometimes described as a light bulb or a corn cob. Large, alert ears tilt forward, giving the cat a look of constant curiosity. The brilliant, alert and expressive eyes are oval in shape and set wide apart.

Most associations accept the breed in only one color and pattern: solid warm mahogany brown. However, the Cat Fanciers’ Federation (CFF) and The International Cat Association (TICA) accept the breed in solid lilac as well – a color described as frost gray with a pinkish tone. Lilacs have the same brilliant green eyes, as do the browns. In both associations, the breed is called the “Havana,” since it is no longer solely brown.

The Havana is the only cat whose breed standard requires a specific whisker color. The standard specifies brown or lilac whiskers to complement the color of the coat.

Havana Brown Cat’s Personality

Havanas are gentle, intelligent and remarkably adaptable. They take almost any situation in stride, and with confidence and poise set about to rule whatever roost they are given. One-room walk-up or palace – it’s all the same to them as long as they have plenty of love and attention from their human friends.

Havanas make wonderful companions if you like interactive cats. Devoted, affectionate and constantly curious, Havanas want to be where you are, preferably right in the middle of the action. They want to help you read the paper in the morning, type on the computer in the afternoon, and prepare dinner in the evening. Their playful attitudes and ability to adjust to other pets and children make them great family companions. Unlike the Siamese, they are vocally quiet.

However, like the Siamese, Havanas need human interaction and don’t do well if they are ignored or left alone for long periods. Havanas are just not happy without humans around to love. If you work all day and have an active social life at night, consider a less dependent breed.

Choosing a Devon Rex

Devon rex cats have been compared to pixies and aliens from space because of their huge bat-like ears, large window-to-the-soul eyes, and ethereal, otherworldly body style. Not only are they unusual in appearance, these wavy-haired wonders have personalities that can’t be beat. Affectionately called poodle cats for their short, curly coats, Devons are playful and animated, and love nothing more than spending time entertaining their favorite humans.

History & Origin of Devon Rex Cats

It is thought that the gene responsible for the Devon’s curly coat resulted from a spontaneous mutation in the domestic cat gene pool, but exactly when and where this occurred is unknown. The father of the Devon breed as we know it was a feral, curly-coated tom that lived around an abandoned tin mine near Buckfastleigh, Devon, England. He mated with a straight-coated calico female who in 1960 produced a litter of kittens in the garden of cat lover Beryl Cox. One of these kittens, a brownish-black male that Cox named Kirlee, had his father’s short, curly coat.

At first, Kirlee was thought to be a member of the Cornish rex breed, which had been discovered in Cornwall, England, 10 years before, and so was sent to Cornish breeder Brian Sterling-Webb. However, after Kirlee mated with nine separate Cornish queens and produced only straight-coated offspring, breeders concluded that the two breeds were unrelated. The name Devon rex was adopted for the breed’s place of origin, and a breeding program was established. Test matings determined that the gene responsible for the curly coat was recessive. Breeders think that Kirlee’s parents must have been related, since a recessive gene must be inherited from both parents to manifest in offspring. To keep the breed healthy and expand the gene pool, Devon rex cats were crossed with Burmese and British and American shorthairs.

The first Devon was imported to the United States in 1968. In 1972, ACFA granted the Devon championship status, and TICA followed in 1979. The CFA awarded championship in 1983. Today, all associations except TCA recognize the breed. While never quite as popular as the Cornish rex, the Devon has made great strides and has a steadily growing fan club. Since the gene pool is still small, American and British shorthairs will be used in Devon breeding programs until May 1, 2003, to keep the breed healthy.

Appearance of a Devon Rex

The Devon’s body is slender and medium long with fine boning, and is carried high on long slim legs. But don’t let that fool you – under that curly coat are strong, hard muscles. The hind legs are somewhat longer than the front.

The Devon’s head shape is unique as well; the head is a modified wedge shape with a flat skull, a short, well-developed muzzle, pronounced cheekbones, and prominent whisker pads with a whisker break. The ears are strikingly large, wide at the base, rounded at the tips, and set low on the head rather than upright. The oval eyes are large and wide set and slope toward outer edges of ears.

The Devon’s wavy coat, of course, is the most celebrated feature. The coat is short on the back, sides, upper legs and tail, and very short on the head, ears, neck, paws, chest and abdomen. The soft, fine, wavy hair is eminently petable, and you don’t come away with a handful of hair afterwards.

Unlike the Cornish rex coat that lacks guard hairs, the Devon’s coat has all three hair types: guard, awn and down. However, the guard hairs are fragile and stunted, and the whiskers are often missing altogether. The hairs break easily and therefore this breed can develop bald patches that remain until the next hair growth cycle, typically spring and fall.

All colors and patterns are accepted including the colorpoint (Siamese) pattern. However, since the breed is comparatively rare, not all colors are available. Common colors and patterns include bicolor, black smoke, tortoiseshell, tabbies in silver, red, and brown, solid black, solid blue, and solid white with gold, blue, or odd eyes (one of each color).

Personality of a Devon Rex

Devons may look like pixies but they are completely catlike in character. They love nothing better than to cuddle with you all night and wake you in the morning with forehead kisses and purrs of affection. And since Devons shed little, you can snuggle back without coming away covered with cat hair.

Devons are loyal, devoted, playful, fearless and intelligent, just to name a few of the qualities that make them good choices for the cat-obsessed. Devons are shoulder-perchers, lap-sitters, tail-waggers, and retrievers of tossed cat toys. They have a well-developed sense of curiosity, too. Never far from your side, Devons involve themselves in every activity, whether it’s preparing dinner, surfing the Internet, or lounging in front of the TV. Reserved? Independent? Aloof? No one here by that description.

Choosing a Ragdoll

Surrounded by myth and mystery, the ragdoll is a large, laid-back, loving cat with a long, beautiful coat, lovely pointed pattern and big brilliant blue eyes. A hybrid breed, the ragdoll was developed by years of selective breeding, but exactly which cats were used in its creation remains uncertain. While controversy kept the breed from achieving quick acceptance in cat associations, the breed is popular with cat lovers for his beauty and trusting, playful personality.

History and Origin of Ragdoll Cats

The ragdoll’s origins cannot be established with certainty. The only detail of the breed’s creation that is not subject to debate is that the ragdoll was created in the 1960s by the late Ann Baker of Riverside, Calif. All genuine ragdolls can be traced back to the bloodlines she developed.

The breed was probably created by crosses between unpedigreed longhaired cats that possessed the recessive gene for the pointed pattern, although some believe that the breed was created by crossbreeding Persians, Birmans, and Burmese cats with random-bred domestics. The foundation cat from which the breed originated, Josephine, was a semi-feral longhaired white female cat of unknown parentage.

The colorful stories and rumors that surround the breed’s creation lend an air of mystery. As the story goes, Josephine produced unremarkable kittens until she was struck by a car in the early 1960s. Allegedly, after the accident Josephine was taken to a facility where she was genetically altered in an experiment conducted by the government. This genetic alteration caused Josephine to produce kittens with the traits for which the ragdoll is so famous – non-aggressive temperament, beautiful color pointed coat and the tendency to go limp like a rag doll when held.

No evidence exists to support this, however, and it’s highly doubtful that any kind of genetic alteration that occurred in the 1960s would have produced such results. Other rumors claim ragdolls are insensitive to pain, have an unusual passivity that prevents them from fighting back and grow to weigh 30 pounds or more. According to most breeders, none of these tales is true.

Although all of today’s genuine ragdolls are descendants from Baker’s original stock, several factions of fanciers exist. Ann Baker created her own registry for ragdolls in 1971 called the International Ragdoll Cat Association (IRCA). She also franchised and trademarked the ragdoll name, requiring breeders to pay a royalty fee for every kitten sold and to follow a strict breeding program that Baker controlled. Too, IRCA breeders were not allowed to register or show IRCA ragdolls in any other cat association.

Some breeders became unhappy with this arrangement and in 1975 they split from IRCA, taking their cats with them. They formed the Ragdoll Fanciers’ Club, a group dedicated to achieve recognition for the ragdoll with the national cat associations. Later, the club’s name was changed to the Ragdoll Fanciers’ Club International (RFCI). Today, every North American cat association accepts non-IRCA ragdolls for championship. Both groups still exist, but with Ann Baker’s death in 1997, IRCA has dwindled to a small number of breeders.

Ragdoll Cat’s Appearance

The ragdoll is a large, powerful cat. The body is long, broad and solid with heavy boning, the head large and broad, and the eyes large and vivid blue. Wide set, moderately flared ears with rounded tips decorate the head. Slow to develop, ragdolls attain their full size and weight at around three years of age. Males generally weigh 15 to 20 pounds. Females are smaller but are still hefty at 10 to 15 pounds.

This breed has medium-long, silky fur that is naturally non-matting. A ruff decorates the chest and a magnificent plume adorns the tail. The ragdoll comes in the four traditional pointed colors: seal, chocolate, blue and lilac, although the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) accepts the additional colors of red and cream. Three patterns are accepted: colorpoint (also called the pointed or Siamese pattern), mitted (pointed pattern except for four white feet), and bicolor (pointed pattern with areas of white including a white inverted “V” on the face).

Personality of a Ragdoll

Regardless of where they came from, growing numbers of cat fanciers are discovering that ragdolls make wonderful companions. Mild-mannered and congenial, ragdolls are known for their exceptionally tolerant dispositions and sweet, docile temperaments. They tend to go limp when picked up like a child’s rag doll, the trait that earned the breed its name. This trait can be attributed to their gentle, trusting natures rather than any mysterious reason.

Ragdolls make ideal indoor companions. They are playful but are not overactive and enjoy just spending quiet time with their human friends. Affectionate without being overly demanding, ragdolls love nothing more than to be cuddled and pampered. Some enjoy lap-sitting, while others would prefer to sit quietly beside you. They are intelligent and accommodating, and are easily trained to stay away from forbidden areas. Their voices are usually soft and mild, even at dinnertime, and they rarely speak unless spoken to. Known to adapt easily to new environments, ragdolls get along well with children and adults, as well as cats, dogs, and other animals.

How to Groom a Ragdoll Cat

The ragdoll’s soft, beautiful coat may look like it needs a lot of maintenance, but it doesn’t. For the most part it lacks the thick, easily matted downy undercoat possessed by breeds like the Persian. The semi-long fur flows with the body and resists matting. A good combing twice a week with a good quality steel comb will remove loose hair, prevent matting and help minimize hairballs.

Cost of a Ragdoll Cat

Choosing a Balinese

Named for the graceful dancers of the Island of Bali, the Balinese is perfect for those who want a companion with the personality and svelte styling of the Siamese and the luxuriance of a semi-long soft-as-ermine coat. And since the fur has no downy undercoat, this breed doesn’t require the upkeep that some longhaired breeds need. You can spend more time playing with your Balinese instead of grooming her.

History and Origin of  Balinese Cats

Unlike many of our newer Oriental breeds, the Balinese was not created intentionally. In fact, breeders were shocked when, in the early 1900s, longhaired kittens began appearing in otherwise shorthaired Siamese litters. This meant both Siamese parents possessed one copy of the gene for long hair, a gene that, as purebred Siamese, they shouldn’t have had. Since long hair is a recessive trait, cats can have the gene and pass it along to their descendants without having long hair themselves. Only cats that inherit two copies of the gene will have long hair.

How the Siamese picked up the long hair gene has been the subject of debate for many years. Some fanciers think it was introduced into the Siamese gene pool in Europe after World War I. Since the Siamese breed was nearly obliterated in the chaos, other cats were used after the war to help rejuvenate the breed. It’s thought that the Turkish Angora, a breed with a silky, semi-long coat, may have been one of the breeds used.

Other fanciers believe that a natural genetic mutation occurred within the Siamese bloodlines, producing a natural longhaired Siamese. This theory is appealing to some fanciers because it means the Balinese is only one gene apart from the Siamese and is a natural rather than a hybrid breed. But no one really knows for sure. At any rate, most early Siamese breeders quietly gave away these occasional longhairs, fearing other breeders would suspect them of crossing their Siamese with other breeds.

In the 1940s, however, a few progressive fanciers realized these longhaired rebels might make a respectable breed in their own right. New York breeder Helen Smith and California breeder Sylvia Holland began working with the longhaired cats born in Siamese litters. Only Siamese were used in their breeding programs — no other breeds need apply.

Other Siamese breeders, however, were not at all pleased with the new breed and did their best to keep the Balinese from gaining acceptance. But the Balinese fanciers were persistent, and by 1970 all major North American associations recognized the breed.

Appearance of a Balinese

The extreme Balinese has the same body type as an extreme Siamese: a long, tapering wedge-shaped head perched on a long, slender neck; strikingly large, pointed ears that are wide at the base; and medium-sized, almond-shaped eyes. The body is graceful, long, svelte, and tubular with a distinctive combination of fine bones and firm muscles. The tail is long and thin and tapers to a point, but the tail hair makes it appear larger than it actually is. Long, slim legs end with dainty oval paws.

The primary difference between the Siamese and the Balinese is hair length. The Balinese’s coat is fine, silky, and medium length, but the fur lies against the body so it appears shorter than it actually is. The hair on the tail is longer, however, and spreads out in a striking plume. Because of the longer coat, the Balinese has a softer look and appears to have a less extreme body type than the short-coated Siamese.

Two body and head styles exist today — the extreme and the traditional (once called the applehead). The extreme Balinese is the one you generally see at cat shows — it has the svelte body style and wedge-shaped head of the extreme Siamese. The traditional Balinese has the stockier body style and the rounder head type of the traditional Siamese, and possesses a semi-long coat.

The Balinese comes decorated in the same colors and pointed pattern as the Siamese. Four colors are accepted by all of the cat associations: seal point, blue point, chocolate point and lilac point. However, most cat organizations, except the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), recognize the Balinese in the additional colors of red point, cream point, lynx (tabby) point and tortie point. In CFA cat sporting these additional colors are considered a separate breed called the Javanese.

The Javanese was created by crossing Balinese and the colorpoint shorthair. Since the colorpoint shorthair was created in the 1940s by crossing Siamese, Abyssinians, American shorthairs and domestic shorthairs, technically this makes the Javanese a hybrid. The Balinese, however, was created from purebred Siamese lines, so CFA created a separate breed for the cats produced by these crosses.