Purebred dogs are very popular. They are carefully bred for personality and appearance. Many people are devotees of specific breeds, and it is not uncommon to see purebred dogs. What most people don’t realize is that cats have also been selectively bred. Sure, we’ve all heard of Siamese and Persians, but pet cats, unlike dogs, are not often chosen based on breed. This article will give you a short introduction to some common cat breeds, and to the unique personalities and appearances that they have been specifically bred for.
The Persian lives the envious life of a couch potato. They are quiet cats with limited activity needs. However, the long, silky coat that they are renowned for requires a fair bit of maintenance, to avoid matting. They come in lots of colours, and have a flat face and large heads. The flattened nose, also found in dogs such as the Boxer and Pug, may predispose these cats to respiratory problems later in life. This cat is ideal for an owner who cannot be home a lot and wants an absolutely beautiful couch companion.
The Himalayan Persian, commonly simply called the Himalayan, mixes the long coat of the Persian with the colour of the Siamese. This gives you a cat that looks like a Persian but has pointed colouring. Pointed colouring is a heat-sensitive reaction where the fur of the face, ears, tail, and feet are a darker colour than the rest of the body. This cat is outgoing but still fairly quiet, like the Persian.
The Ragdoll has an interesting history. It has been bred intensively to produce a very relaxed disposition; the initial claim was that these animals were so gentle and placid that they went limp (like a Ragdoll) when you picked them up. They have a medium-long coat that requires less maintenance than the Persian or Himalayan. They also have a rounder face, and have pointed colouring. Reaching weights ranging from ten to twenty pounds, these cats are the gentle giants of the cat breeds.
The Maine Coon is also widely known for its luxurious coat. The coat has a texture that is unique to this breed, and is heavy, low maintenance, and water repellent, which reflects its farm-cat background. This breed also has a unique ‘trill’, in addition to the other forms of vocalization. They are big cats, rivalling the Ragdoll in size. These cats tend to be the favorite breed of men, as they are good companions but not overly demanding of affection.
Munchkins are a very interesting breed. To look at them, they are reminiscent of Daschund dogs. They have a normal-sized body with extremely short legs. This defect is inherited. They were also bred for their playfulness and eternal kitten appearance. Munchkins are prone to spinal problems, such as lordosis. Lordosis is excessive downward curve of the spine that can be very painful and incompatible with motion. This breed is coveted by people who want a ‘cute’ cat, but any potential owner should be aware of the health problems that may be associated with this defect.
Manx are another unusual-looking breed. They have no (or very little) tail, and their hind legs are longer than their front legs. Therefore, these cats tend to ‘bunny-hop’ when they run. Everything about them is round: their bodies, eyes, rump, head, and paws. They are also found as a long-haired cat, called the ‘Cymric’. Like with the Munchkins, this defect comes at a price. Manx are prone to spinal, gait, bowl, and bladder problems. In some circumstances, in both breeds, these problems can be so bad that the kittens need to be euthanized. These cats are prized for their appearance and playful, even-tempered personality.
The Abyssinian is the most affectionate cat that we have discussed so far. It needs, and demands, play time and attention. They are a distinctive glorious rich rust colour, termed ‘ticked’. They have little tufts of hair on the tips of their ears and are built like an average cat in size and shape. This breed is recommended for people who are looking for a very interactive and social cat.
The Siamese is a cat of legends! It is known for its pointed colouring and slanting eyes. Over the past century, the Siamese has been increasingly bred for long, fine features, especially in the legs and head. These cats are a handful! They are the most gregarious and talkative breed out there. The Siamese is a cat for someone who is willing to put extra time and attention into a pet cat.
Sphinx cats still exist; they are not merely myth! These ‘hairless’ cats are still somewhat of a rarity. They are not actually hairless, but are in fact covered by fuzz that gives them a suede-like feel. They are mischievous and playful, but the real effort comes in maintaining the health of these cats. Because they have no fur, their skin needs special daily maintenance, and they are very prone to heat and cold. Therefore, these are strictly indoor cats. The large eyes and ears add to the exotic look of these cats. They are only for true devotees of the breed, as they require extra care.
Perhaps, next time you consider getting a cat, you will think about getting a purebred. Purebred cats have a fairly predictable personality and appearance. There are many breeds out there and this was just a short introduction. You can find more information about cat breeds through your local veterinarian or on breed websites. You can also adopt a purebred cat through the many rescue groups in Canada and the USA that specialize in specific cat breeds.
By Ashley O’Driscoll – Pets.ca writer