A breed apart

According to the Cat Fanciers’ Association, less than 3% of owned cats worldwide are actually pedigreed –purebred cats of a specific breed. Most are simply part of the great feline melting pot.

A cat’s breed is defined by its ancestry. If your cat’s parents were registered cats of a particular breed, then your cat is a member of that breed as well. In the world of pedigreed cats, it’s not enough to look the part. You need the papers to back it up.

What is a breed?

A breed is an artificial distinction and is defined by a breed standard, which describes the aesthetic ideal of the cat in detail. Unlike dog breeds, cat breeds are a relatively new concept, with some breeds able to trace back fewer than ten years. With imports from other countries, cat breed diversity has increased in the last 20 years and new breeds continue to be developed.

What is a “trait”?

Don’t confuse breeds with traits. A certain breed of cat will almost always have a particular trait, but not every cat with that trait is a member of that breed. Traits such as distinctive hair colour or lack of a tail will sometimes lead cat companions to believe their cat is a purebred. In reality, such traits are often the result of common genetic mutations. Traits such as calico coats or having extra toes (polydactyl) are not specific to any one breed, but can be found throughout the domestic population.

So your precious cat isn’t a purebred? Remember, all cats, pedigreed or not, descend from the same domestic population. Selective breeding began as a way to create a breed of cat that is predictable in both looks and temperament. If your cat is just about perfect in your eyes, you don’t need a piece of paper to tell you he’s unique!

Related pages:

Avoiding the fat cat

Caring for your older cat

No more food fights

Keeping your cat amused