According to the U.S census, there are over 90 million cats that reside in American homes as pets. Many of these pets are referred to as “domestic longhairs” or “domestic shorthairs”. Only about 3-5% are actual purebreds. There are currently about 40 cat breeds (approximately) but the list continues to grow with one new breed added every year. If a cat association does not recognize a cat breed, it is not purebred and probably does not even have a pedigree history of its lineage.
Here are some numbers of cat breeds according to 3 main cat associations:
- 44 – The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA)
- 58 – The International Cat Association (TICA)
- 43 – Federation Internationale Feline (FIFe)
In the last 2,000 years, cats have bred cats specifically for certain characteristics, and this dates back to the ancient Egyptians and earlier people. Some of the most popular cat breeds in the US include:
Persian cats, also referred to as “smushed-face” cats, date back to 1871. They still remain the top choice of many families. They are friendly, affectionate, and loyal. Due to their beauty and looks, they have been seen in many movies, art, and commercials. Persians don’t just have one name, in fact, they have several, including the Persian longhair, the Iranian cat, and the Shirazi cat (named after a city Shirazi in Iran, since they are originally from there).
However, these adorable cats with saucer-like eyes do require a lot of grooming due to their beautiful coat. Also, being purebred, Persian cats are prone to many diseases including renal and cardiac problems.
Maine Coon Cats
There are several reasons this particular breed has held the second-place spot since 1992. Maine Coons are loving, very gentle, and larger cats. They usually weigh 15-25 lbs. and have long, heavy fur just like Persian cats. Unlike Persians, they aren’t as high-maintenance because they don’t require as much grooming. They were known for their great hunting abilities and got famous when CFA recognized them as purebred in the 1970s.
One of the traits that distinguish them from other cat breeds is their extra toes, which is referred to as “polydactylism” – it makes their already larger feet, even larger. This trait has helped them hunt more effectively even in the snow since their large feet act as snowshoes. Being truly all-American cat breed, they have a great sense of humor as well – called “clown cats” by their owners due to their goofy nature.
The Exotic Shorthair
This breed is similar to the Persian, but with shorter fur. They are referred to as “Persian in Pajamas” because of their unique coloring. Exotic Cats are a cross between Persians and American Shorthair, first developed in the 1950s. They are sweet and friendly, and their fur requires brushing only twice a week. With their dense, shorter hair, and larger eyes, you can call them your teddy bear too.
If you love Persian cats but don’t have enough time for extensive grooming, you should consider getting yourself the exotic shorthair cat.
Siamese, formerly known as Siam, is a fancier cat breed that is loved by owners for many reasons. Siamese Cats love to “chat” with their owners and are known to be very loyal and loving. This breed originated in Thailand in the 19th century. These cats have helped in breeding many cat breeds including Sphynx, Himalayan, and the oriental shorthair. There are certain markings called “points”, on their face, tail, and ears, some might not even have a single point.
They have stunning blue eyes and prefer staying with their owners most of the time. If left alone, they can even become depressed, so if you are planning to get one for yourself, don’t leave it alone!
There are two varieties of Siamese cats that can easily be recognized by their looks – one has a heavy, big head and a slender body while the other one has an apple-shaped head and a bulky, chubbier body. The animated film “Lady and the Tramp” also featured Siamese cats singing, which means they can be vocal too if in the mood.
The Abyssinian breed originated in Ethiopia, formerly known as Abyssinia. These cats are often referred to as “the lookers” amongst the cat breeds. They are thin, elegant, and have a beautiful shiny coat. They are one of the oldest known cat breeds. Abyssinians are extremely energetic, active, very friendly, and are much like Siamese cats in nature – they don’t like to be left alone. However, they do not prefer being cuddled and don’t make a great lap cat as well.
An Abyssinian is a smart breed – many owners have reported that their cats can easily switch the light on/off. They have agouti fur which means they have dark and light coloring on the individual pieces of hair that also gives them a unique and outstanding look. They come in different types of colors including a common color, ruddy, and other colors including cinnamon, fawn, and blue.
Ragdolls tend to go “limp in your arms” once you pick them up and this is where the name “Ragdoll” came from. This cat is cuddly, cute, and is recognized by its blue eyes and large size. This cat should be kept indoors because they are docile – means once outside, they may not be able to defend themselves. They usually come in 4 different patterns: mitted, color-point, van, and bi-color.
Aside from being complete sweethearts, Ragdoll cats are quick learners and love playing with their humans. If you want a cat that can love you more than anything and will adore you to pieces then look no further than this adorable breed.
Birman Cats are friendly, outgoing, flexible, even-tempered, and dog-like. They will greet you at the door and will come right away when called. Their long silky fur does not require much grooming. They are just like Persian and Himalayan cats but what set them apart are their blue eyes and a medium-long coat without undercoat.
Earlier, Birmans were used to breed Ragdolls – this is the reason that they look very similar, but still, they have a slightly different type of personalities and markings on their coats.
This breed came to America on the Mayflower and was originally bred for hunting. They have great health, are known to be quiet, good family pets, and playful with children.
Cats are a very popular pet. The focus and popularity of cat breeds are less important than in the dog world with many people not aware of the breed history of their cats. The ones mentioned in the article above are very popular and beautiful breeds of cats that also make great pets.
Interested in knowing more about famous cat breeds or want to get yourself the perfect cat but want more information? The Complete Cat Breed Book is a great guidebook that contains practical advice on cats maintenance – from handling, grooming, and exercise to health and diet, this one has it all.