What Kind Of Cat Do I Have? A Guide To Identifying Cat Breeds

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what kind of cat do i have
what kind of cat do i have

What kind of cat do I have?

The Cat Fanciers’ Association recognises 44 kinds of cats in the United States, and the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy recognises 43 kinds of cats in the United Kingdom.

The vast majority of pet cats are not purebred, but anyone whose cat has a mysterious past can have fun deciphering their pet’s appearance and speculating about their ancestry.

Kinds Of Cats

Kitty lovers have enjoyed refining different types of cats for generations.

Numerous national, regional and international registries exist to register purebred cats, including

  • the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) in the U.S.
  • the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) in the U.K.
  • and the Federation Internationale Feline (FIFe) and The International Cat Association (TICA) worldwide.

The CFA recognizes 44 breeds, and the GCCF and FIFe each recognize 43.

TICA manages to identify 71 different types of cat. Largely by registering long haired and short haired varieties, or some color ways, separately.

What Kind Of Cat Do I Have?

There are lots of reasons why kitten owners might not know what kind of cat they have.

what kind of cat do i have

Strays and feral cats, by definition, don’t come with any history at all.

Rescue cats and shelter cats might have been collected from the street, or they might have been relinquished by someone who didn’t leave any details of their breed.

Kittens advertised for sale locally might be the result of an unplanned pregnancy by an unknown tom.

If you have a cat with a mysterious background, we’re certain that you love them for who they are as an individual.

However it’s still fun to look for signs of well-known breeds in their looks and behavior! But what are the chances of finding them?

Types Of Domestic Cats

In 2013, a review of cat ownership in Santa Clara County, California, reported that 85% of pet cats in the region were domestic shorthairs, domestic medium hairs or domestic longhairs.

That is, neither purebred, nor a specified crossbreed.

This proportion matches the breed profile of cats treated across America by the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, according to data published in 2018.

In the U.K., analysis of vet records in 2017 revealed that 89.6% of British cats are ‘moggies’ – the affectionate name given to domestic varieties not from pedigree lines.

Meanwhile, the Cat Fancier’s Association estimate that a whopping 95% of pet cats worldwide are non-pedigree. In other words, the number of non-purebred cats greatly outnumbers the number of purebred cats.

And as a result, purebred cats command a lot more money as kittens than non-purebred cats. So their owners tend to keep track of them!

Is My Cat Purebred?

On balance, it’s unlikely that many people will ever own a pedigree without realising it, or without knowing what they’ve got.

But even purebred cats sometimes stray, get relinquished to shelters without details, or father secret litters without their owner’s knowledge.

Statistically, if you’re looking for signs of pedigree ancestry in your cat, they’re most likely to come from one of the most popular breeds.

Popular US Cats

In the U.S., the most popular kinds of cat are

  • Ragdoll
  • Exotic
  • British Shorthair
  • Persian
  • Maine Coon
  • Devon Rex
  • American Shorthair
  • Abyssinian
  • Sphynx
  • and Scottish Shorthair.

Popular UK Cats

In the U.K., they are

  • British Shorthair
  • Siamese
  • Persian
  • Bengal
  • Ragdoll
  • Maine Coon
  • and Burmese.

Since more of these breeds are owned than any other, they’re the most likely to contribute to your mystery cat too.

Different Types Of Cat

Another source of clues about your cat’s lineage is their appearance.

Some kinds of kitty are defined by having a particular coat, or only coming in certain colors.

Let’s take a look at some examples.

Cats Which Always Have Colorpoint Coats

Color point coats are the result of a very special type of albinism.

The pigment distribution in colorpoint cats is temperature sensitive. They make more pigment in the areas where skin temperature is coolest – the muzzle, ears, paws and tail. Also known as the ‘points’

The color at the points of colorpoint cats can be all kinds of light and dark browns and grays. Some colorpoint cats even have tabby markings in their points!

These breeds always have colorpoint coats:

  • Balinese
  • Himalayan
  • Javanese
  • Siamese
  • Thai
  • Birman
  • Snowshoe

But on the other hand, our next category of cats never do.

Types Of Cat Which Never Have Colorpoint Coats

These lovely pedigrees are recognized in lots of colors, but never the colorpoint color distribution:

  • American Shorthair
  • American Wirehair
  • Manx
  • Oriental Shorthair
  • Oriental Longhair
  • Turkish Angora
  • Japanese Bobtail
  • Maine Coon

Types Of Cat – Spotted Cats

Spotted cats are types of tabby.

Tabby markings are the most common among non-purebred cats, even more so than solid colors.

That’s because tabby markings would have provided cats’ wild ancestors with better camouflage outdoors.

But there are actually three genetically distinct types of tabby cats, and those with spots are the most unusual.

These types of purebred cat always have those special spots:

  • California Spangled
  • Egyptian Mau
  • Ocicat
  • Pixiebob
  • Savannah
  • Serengeti

Ticked Cats

Another highly distinctive type of coat is the ticked coat.

Ticked coats have bands of color on each individual strand of hair.

Cat breeds which always have ticked coats include

  • Abyssinians
  • Chausies
  • Lykois
  • Singapuras
  • and Somali cats.

Different Kinds Of Cats: Clues In Their Coats

Wild cats, domestic cats and pedigree cats can all have long or short coats.

Looking at coat length, all told, is not a very helpful way of answering the question “what kind of cat do I have?”

But some kinds of hair are very unusual in cats.

They’re caused by mutations in the genetic code, which occur at random, but are only preserved by human breeders deliberately maintaining them.

These cats are notable for their unusual coats:

Curly Coated Cats

  • Oregon Rex
  • Cornish Rex
  • Devon Rex
  • LaPerm
  • American Wirehair
  • Selkirk Rex

Hairless Cats

  • Dwelf
  • Sphinx
  • Donkoy
  • Bambino
  • Peterbald
  • Lykoi

Types Of Domestic Cat

What if it becomes apparent that your mysterious feline can’t be pigeonholed into a single breed?

In that case, they might be a mix of two or more pedigree cats, or they might be a domestic cat.

‘Domestic cat’ in this sense doesn’t just mean a pet, or house trained kitty. It means a pet which isn’t purebred, and probably doesn’t have any purebred ancestors either.

Domestic cats are often subdivided into shorthair domestic cats and longhair domestic cats.

They Have Lots of Differences

They can have all kinds of patterns, from dilute calico to ginger tabby.

Some individuals are small, and some are huge. 

And as we saw at the beginning of this article, they dominate most of our homes.

There aren’t any formal classifications of domestic cat besides longhair and shorthair, so you can use whatever adjectives you like to honor the features which make them unique.

Or just call them a cat!

What Kind Of Cat Do You Have?

Does your feline have a perfectly recorded pedigree, or a mysterious past?

Have you spotted hints of a purebred ancestor in your domestic cat?

Tell us in the comments box down below!

References and Further Resources

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