Breeds

Domestic cats are generally divided into two groups—long-haired and short-haired. Cat breeds do not show the wide variations in size and form shown by dog breeds. The descriptions given below are based largely on the specifications for the breed as determined by the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA), the largest organization of cat owners, exhibitors, and breeders in the world. There are about 35 breeds recognized by CFA, including the following:

Long-Haired Cats
Balinese

Developed from the Siamese, a short-haired breed. Basically the same as the Siamese except for length of the hair. Whitish with dark tail, snout, ears, and paws. Eyes are blue.

The Balinese catThe Balinese cat has a slender body, blue eyes, and silky fur.
Birman

Originated in Burma. Body color is golden cream and all four paws are white; face, ears, legs, and tail are dark. Eyes are blue.

Himalayan

Developed by selective crossing with Siamese and Persian. Resembles Persian in body shape and Siamese in coloring of body and eyes.

Maine Coon

Bred in the New England area for many years; origin unknown. Large cat with long, muscular, powerful body. Coat can be any color or combination of colors; eyes, any color that complements the coat.

The Maine coon catThe Maine coon cat is large and looks somewhat like a raccoon.
Persian

Wide variation in coat color; CFA recognizes about 20 different color types. Large, round head, short snub nose, wide eyes, small ears, boxy body, and short legs. Coat is silky, flowing, and luxuriant. Eyes may be orange, copper, hazel, green, or blue. Said to have originated in Persia (now Iran).

Turkish Angora

Thought to have originated in Ankara, Turkey. Body is long and tail tapering. The coat, of medium length, is white, silky and fine, with a tendency to wave. Eyes are copper or blue.

What Is a Purebred, Crossbred, or Pedigreed Cat?

A purebred cat is one whose mother and father belong to the same breed. A crossbred cat has parents that are both purebred cats but are of different breeds—for example, a Russian blue crossed with a Siamese. A pedigreed cat is a purebred that has a document or certificate showing ancestors with unmixed breeding. Most pedigrees list three to five generations of ancestors of a purebred cat.

Many people prefer the special features of a certain breed of cat. For example, such purebreds as the Siamese and the Bombay are among the most attractive and affectionate cats in the world. But cats of no specific breed may be just as beautiful and lovable as purebreds, and they are sometimes healthier.