Cat breeds

The domestic cat is now the most popular pet in the world. As you can read in our general article about cats, it is descended from various wild cats. Nowadays cats are divided into different breeds and bred specifically. The following article is intended to provide an overview of origin and systematics of existing cat breeds.

There are many different associations, which define breed standards for the different cat breeds. Here you come directly to the profiles of the cat breeds.

The emergence of cat breeds

Cat breeding – and thus the development of different breeds – does not have such a long history as the domestication and breeding of dogs. Indeed, while the latter were used for various purposes(herding dogs, hunting dogs, guard dogs, sled dogs, etc.), the cats had only the purposes of vermin removal (hunting mice) and companionship for humans. This made the development of breeds with different characteristics unnecessary for a long time.

A woman holds an open book in her hand and laughs at her cat sitting on the sofa
Cats are great company

For the most part, the cat breeds officially recognized today developed from domestic cats that originated in Europe, Asia and the Orient. Now there are about 40 breeds of cats, a number that seems quite small compared to the breeds of dogs. In addition, there are hybrid breeds, which are the result of crosses of Asian old cats (small cat species assigned to predators, which are exclusively native to Asia, such as the Bengal cat or the fish cat) and domesticated cat breeds.

The Angora cat is considered to be the first cat breed that became conspicuous through planned breeding. It was brought to Europe around the 17th century by traders from Asia Minor (from the region of Angora, now known as Ankara), where it enjoyed great popularity in the courts of the nobility. The term “Angora cat” was officially used as a collective term for long-haired cats until the 1950s. Even today, this designation is still widely used.

2 playing kittens Turkish Angora cats
Two playing kittens Turkish Angora cats

Angora cats were long considered the ancestors of Persian cats, but this has been disproved by recent research. However, due to crossbreeding with other cat types, the original Angora type was lost and was rediscovered only around 1970. Today, the Angora breed is officially recognized under the name “Turkish Angora“.

Felinological umbrella organizations

From the 20th century, the breeding of cats developed rapidly, which also resulted in the emergence of many new breeds. Existing breeds were split or crossed with each other; mutations also formed the foundation stones for new breeds. Breeders are still working on the development of new breeds of cats. The recognition of a new breed must be done according to the guidelines of a felinological umbrella organization.

We will refer to the following five associations in our profiles:

  • CFA
  • FIFe
  • GCCF
  • TICA
  • WCF

CFA: Cat Fanciers’ Association

The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) is a US organization that was founded back in 1906. Their stated goal is to advocate for cat health. While it also defines breed standards and trains judges for shows, it also provides for controlled cat breeders and supports research in cat health. She publishes books and magazines and informs the public about topics related to cats.

FIFe: Fédération Internationale Féline

The Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFe) was founded in France in 1949. It now brings together 42 national associations from 40 countries. Its members have decided to follow the jointly developed breed standards and have formulated rules for breeding, naming catteries and training judges for breed shows and exhibitions.

GCCF: Governing Council of the Cat Fancy

Founded in England in 1910, the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) is one of the oldest European umbrella organizations of cat fancy clubs. Currently it unites more than 150 different cat clubs and licenses more than 150 shows and breed shows a year. In 2006, the GCCF became a member of the World Cat Congress and cooperates with various cat associations worldwide.

TICA: The international cat association

The International Cat Association (TICA) is an American organization that has been organizing and licensing cat shows since 1979. It is now the largest felinological umbrella organization in the world that has a genetic registry of pedigreed and domestic cats. It is also one of the largest organizations that organize and license cat shows. At the moment it has recognized 63 different breeds of cats.

WCF: World Cat Federation

The World Cat Federation (WCF), is an internationally operating federation of cat clubs registered in Germany. Currently 370 associations from 6 continents worldwide belong to the WCF. The WCF enables the breeders of the clubs affiliated to it to register their cattery name internationally. It has currently published 61 cat breed standards.

Cat breeds comparison
Different head shapes of pedigree cats in comparison

Systematic classification of cat breeds

The individual cat breeds sometimes look much more similar to each other than that is the case with dog breeds. To produce purebred cats, they usually had to be bred pure over long periods of time. This means that only representatives of the same cat breed are crossed with each other until any influence of other cat breeds has been eradicated from the newly created generations. The origin and offspring of cats must be carefully documented and verifiable in order for them to be considered pedigreed cats.

In general, according to the length of the coat is distinguished between the following types of breeds:

However, from the genetic point of view, there are only short-haired and long-haired breeds, that is, cats that have either the gene (l) for long-hairedness or the gene (L) for short-hairedness. By the nevertheless differently long fur also the designation “half long hair races” became generally accepted.

At breed shows or among breeders, further classifications are often made. Forest cats” are long-haired natural breeds(Siberian cat, Norwegian forest cat and Maine Coon). Natural breeds are those cat breeds which have a natural origin and have not been created by breeding.

In contrast to this are the hybrid breeds. These would not exist without the efforts of breeders who have crossed wild animals with domestic cats.

Relatively new is the category of “hairless cats” such as the German Rex or Devon Rex, which are considered allergy-friendly cat breeds.

Shorthaired breeds

The group of shorthaired breeds is the largest of the three breed groups. It includes many of the most popular cat breeds; for example, the Siamese, British Shorthair and Abyssinian.

Here you can learn more about the short-haired velvet paws.

One Russian Blue and one tri-color European Shorthair against dark background
Shorthair cats like the Russian Blue and European Shorthair are among the most common cat breeds

Semi Longhair Breeds

In second place are the semi-longhair breeds. Famous representatives of this group of breeds are the Birman cat and the Turkish Angora. The Maine Coon is also a semi-longhair breed, but it can also be classified in the natural breeds.

Here you can learn more about the cuddly semi-longhair cats.

White semi-longhair cat kitten against blue background
Kittens of a semi-longhair cat

Longhair breeds

The smallest group is represented by the longhaired cats. Belonging to it are the already mentioned historical Angora cat, as well as the Himalayan or Colorpoint and Persian cats. As already mentioned above, genetically also the semi-longhair cats belong to the longhair cats, but are distinguished under breeding and optical aspects.

Here you can learn more about the dignified cuddly tigers.

Norwegian forest cat on tree trunks
Norwegian forest cat on tree trunks

Hybrid breeds

There are only a few breeds that belong to the hybrid breeds, that is, the crossing of wild cats with domesticated domestic cats. These include the Bengal, the Chausie and the Savannah F1 to F4.

Here you can learn more about the tame tigers for the living room.

Bengal cat, whole body, sideways
Bengal cats belong to the hybrid breeds and need a lot of exercise.

Natural breeds

Unlike the hybrid breeds created by breeding, the natural breeds have a natural origin. Even though the cat breeds known today, such as Norwegian Forest Cat or Maine Coon, are now subject to breeding measures, they are considered forest cats if they are long-haired or natural breeds in general.

Here you can find even more information about the robust house tigers.

Maine Coon doesn't mind a winter day much.
Maine Coon doesn’t mind a winter day much. They belong to the natural breeds.

Cat breed profiles

Here you can find all cat breeds at a glance. Just click on the profiles of the cat breeds with picture, then you come to the different breed portraits. There the different cat breeds and their specifics are presented in more detail.

American Curl
Amercian Curl – breed portrait will follow soon
Balinese lying on white background
Balinese – breed portrait will follow soon
Boy Peterbald cat sitting. isolated on white
Peterbald – breed portrait will follow soon
A Savannah cat on a leash lying in the grass
F1-F4 Savannah
Squatting sphynx cat close up black background
Sphynx – breed portrait will follow soon
Turkish van sits against black background
Turkish Van -breed portrait to follow soon

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