How Many Cat Breeds Are There?
Your cat is one of a kind, but her traits come from very specific strands of kitty DNA. Her tufted ears, her golden eyes or her loud meow may even come from a purebred ancestor. But how many cat breeds are there, anyway? While simply asking your veterinarian will yield answers about your own cat, there's a lot more to know about cat breeds in general.
The History of Cat Breeds
According to National Geographic, cats first started hanging around human settlements and eating the rodents that threatened our grain stores as early as eight thousand years ago. It wasn't until the nineteenth century, however, that cats fanciers started breeding cats deliberately for a specific appearance or demeanor. A select few cats, such as the Egyptian Mau, still resemble their wild ancestors from the deserts of the Middle East (or in the case of the Maine Coon, snowy North America). The rest are the result of human tinkering with one of nature's most
Unlike dogs, cats have changed very little genetically from the
How Many Breeds Are There?
Finding out how many cat breeds exist in the world depends on where you look for your information. International cat registries and other organizations all list different qualifications for the breeds they accept, and the total number
For example, The Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA), the largest American cat registration body, recognizes forty-four different breeds as of 2018. Fédération Internationale Féline, with member organizations in forty countries, recognizes forty-eight breeds broken down into four categories.
There are a few reasons why various associations qualify cat breeds differently. The simplest reason is the overall classification. Some registries won't consider non-pedigreed cats that don't have their parents' names and breeds traced back a certain number of generations. Additionally, some associations include multiple types of cats in one classification, while others separate them into their own categories. For example, the
So, how many cat breeds are there? There's no single determined number — just one more piece of evidence that cats like to follow their own rules.
Are New Cat Breeds Ever Accepted?
Generally, the breed lists accepted by registries often stay the same. However, new breeds are occasionally developed and aim for recognition. The CFA introduced two new breeds to their accepted list for the 2018 season: the Lykoi and the Khao Manee.
Cat breeds are also often developed from a few cats that shared a certain genetic trait. If that trait is poorly understood or connected to a genetic tendency for a certain disease, breeding can become controversial. The CFA and other organizations maintain strict rules for breeders to ensure that purebred cats are healthy and not predisposed to inherited disorders.
Whether she has blue eyes, five toes or a gorgeous set of stripes, the best kind of cat is the one that wants to come home with you! There are thousands of cats in shelters that may not be
Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform—and even transform—its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print, and includes interviews,