FAMOUS HOUSECAT BREEDS FROM ACROSS THE WORLD
The relationship between humans and Felis catus dates back thousands of years ago. History indicates that Ancient Egyptians might have been the first to domesticate cats nearly 4,000 years ago. They are known to have worshipped Bastet, a love goddess with the head of a cat and also mummified their pets. Cats were later adopted for companionship by people belonging to various civilizations.
Research tells us that dogs were great hunters and were domesticated way before cats when human were predominantly huntsmen. The usefulness of cats was realized when humans began to settle down and erected granaries that attracted mice. This was probably the time when the first wild cats entered a town in search of their prey and humans were delighted as they helped get rid of the troublesome rodents.
In the words of Study author Carlos Discroll, “cats sort of domesticated themselves.” However, over a period of time, humans began adopting cats but wanted their feline companions to be more docile, unlike their wild counterparts. Breeders and scientists undertook the task of developing new cat breeds that could be easily domesticated. Today, cats are one of the most widely domesticated species valued for their companionship and beauty. Some of the most popular domestic cat breeds in contemporary times are:
The Siamese is one of the first distinctly recognized breeds of Asian cat. Native to Thailand, formerly known as Siam, it is one of the most popular housecat breeds that gained immense popularity in Europe and North America in the 19th century.
Derived from the Wichianmat landrace, one of the many cat varieties from Thailand, the modern Siamese has been developed by crossbreeding with other cats such as the Oriental shorthair and Colourpoint shorthair as well as the longhaired Himalayan cat.
The Siamese is one of the oldest breeds of domesticated cats in the world. These cats are known for their mysterious beauty and talkative nature; they have bright, deep blue eyes, a chiseled, triangular head, an elongated slender body, point coloration and large pointed ears, toes and face.
The colour of the coat of a Siamese is determined by their genes and the temperature of their surroundings. This can be attributed to the presence of a mutated enzyme in their body that inhibits pigment from developing in their fur. For this reason the cat has a cream colored torso and darker points at the ears, face and toes.
The Siamese comes in a variety of colours ranging from silver, grey and orange to brown, blue and lilac. The Cat Fancier’s Association (CFA) officially recognizes four shades of the Siamese- seal (black), chocolate, blue and black. The International Cat Association (TICA) also recognizes lynx and tortoiseshell.
Siamese makes excellent housepets as they are very talkative and intelligent. They can vocalize their demands that often sound like human baby cries. They are agile and energetic and love active families and busy households. They have an inquisitive nature and are affectionate and people oriented. They can also be trained to follow specific commands.
These cats are popularly known as ‘bricks wrapped in silk’ since their solid, athletic, round shaped bodies are covered beneath a silken short-haired coat. Having originated in Thailand, this domestic cat breed is believed to have its roots near the present day Thai-Burmese border. Most modern Burmese attribute their origins to one female cat, Wong Mau, brought from Burma to the United States in 1930 and bred with the American Siamese.
The four officially recognized colours of the Burmese are sable, champagne, blue and platinum. They weigh between 8-10 pounds and have distinct gold or yellow coloured eyes dripping with innocence.
These cats are known for their intelligence and observant nature. They can open cabinets and have a penchant for hiding stuff around the house, particularly shiny things. They are very attached to their owners, are playful and mischievous. They thrive in bustling households with older children and pets. The Burmese needs physical and mental stimulation and loves to play the game of fetch.
One of the most coveted cat breeds of the world, the Bengal is valued for its exquisite beauty and friendly nature. It weighs between 10-15 pounds and grows up to a height of about 16 inches. It has a leopard-like prowl and slender, athletic body with oval eyes and a wedge-shaped head. The hind legs of a Bengal are longer than the front legs and it boasts of a magnificent leopard print coat.
The origins of the Bengal can be attributed to Jean mill, a California based breeder who wanted to develop a cat breed that could be easily domesticated yet possessed a coat which resembled that of a wild cat. Mill had a degree in psychology and had taken graduate classes in genetics. In 1983, the Bengal was officially recognized by TICA. Bengals have different coat colours ranging from silver, sable, black and charcoal to brown, blue and marbled patterns. The coat is silken to touch and exotic to look at.
Bengals make great pets as they are playful and devoted companions. They love water and do well in active households. Known for their active and agile traits this highly intelligent and observant breed of housecat watches the actions of others and can open doors, cabinets and windows. They are extremely demanding and need to be taken care of by experienced cat owners. They need quality time and lots of interaction and are quite vocal.
This cat breed owes its origins to the Middle East where it was first discovered in the 1600s by an Italian traveler. These cats were brought to Europe and became extremely popular in England during the 19th century. Queen Victoria, an ardent cat lover, is known to have owned two Blue Persians.
Persian cats were introduced to America in the late 1800s. They gained recognition by the CFA in 1914 and rapidly became the most popular cat breed in the country. TICA also recognizes the Persian.
The Persian cats are known for their distinctly sweet expressions and long, lush coats. Flat faces with round eyes, big, round heads and thick, sturdy bodies marked by small, round-tipped ears characterize them. They come in a wide range of colours and patterns such as silver, gold, tabby, bicolor, smoke and Himalayan. They weigh between 8-10 pounds.
These cats are prized for their long fur and affectionate nature. They make great house pets as they are easy-going and playful and great human buddies. They do well in households with children and other pets. They crave attention from their favourite humans and require grooming for at least 20 minutes every week.
The term ‘Ragdoll’ is derived from the tendency of the originals of this breed to go limp like a ragdoll when picked up. Characterized by blue eyes and a colour point coat, these cats are also known as “dog-like cats” as they tend to follow people around and aren’t aggressive towards other animals.
These cats have distinct wedge-shaped heads, wide-set ears and a well-defined chin. They weigh somewhere between 9.9 to 19.8 pounds and are known to possess robust bodies in a medium to large-size frame and have a muscular built with a fatty pad below the abdomen.
Most ragdoll kittens are born white but gradually go on to develop light coloured coats with darker points like those on a Siamese. Ragdolls are known for their elegance and soft, silken coats that don’t shed much. Running a steel comb through a Ragdoll’s fur keeps it looking great.
Ragdolls make great house pets as they have relaxed temperaments and do well in households with kids and other pets. They are devoted to their owners and are easygoing and gentle. They love to curl on their owner’s lap and are fascinated with water.
This large and sociable cat nicknamed ‘the gentle giant’ is one of the most popular domestic cat breeds of the world. It possesses remarkable hunting skills and is one of the oldest natural breeds in North America, native to the State of Maine. The exact origins and date of introduction of the Maine coon to the United States are unknown, but it rose to popularity in the 19th century.
It possesses an uneven two-layered coat and has a sturdy bone structure and a rectangular body. It is a great house pet as it can be easily domesticated and has a gentle nature and dog-like traits.
Known for its lack of fur this hairless cat breed is popular among cat lovers across the globe. Although, hairlessness in cats is a natural gene mutation, the Sphynx was developed through selective breeding. It is characterized by a pixie face and big batty ears, a potbelly and wrinkled skin that feels like warm chamois leather. It weighs between 8 to 10 pounds and does not have whiskers or eyebrows.
The Sphynx make wonderful pets because of their intelligent and playful nature. They are popularly called “love mooch’ on account of the affection and devotion they display towards their owners. Owing to their hairless bodies, these cats need to keep themselves from losing heat and love to snuggle up as it makes them feel cozy.