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Types of Cats

About Cat Breeds and Picking a Healthy Cat

Types of Cats, Choosing the best catSee all cat breeds

Cats are great companions, yet different types of cats can be better suited to different types of people!

Cats are perhaps the most unique animals kept as pets, and their is an astounding variety of cat breeds and types to choose from. As they moved indoors and became house pets, a great appreciation for their unique behaviors and characteristics developed. They are clean, affectionate and playful, yet are also dignified, patient and courageous. Cats have become the most popular pet in America, and have even overtaken dogs as favored companion animals.

You don't own a cat like you would a dog, or other types of companion animals. They are uniquely independent. The master/owner relationship enjoyed with dogs is rare with a cat. Though cats may be trained to do things like come when called, or perform tricks or other tasks, a cat owner quickly realizes it is not because they are the masters. Cats could be described as "choosing" to live with you and grace you with their fabulous and fascinating presence.

Before getting a cat, review your lifestyle and any perceived changes in your lifestyle. Consider the members of your family and the impact a cat will have on them, as well as the needs of the cat. Consider things such as age, are their infants or elderly in the household. Also think about health and safety, does anyone suffer from allergies, have problems with their immune system, or have a chronic illness.

You've decided you are ready for a cat, so now comes the fun part... which cat do you want?

To help choose your pet cat explore the cat breeds, cat behaviors and personality traits of different breeds, and the cat types below. Cat breeds and cat types are not the same thing. Cat types are unique, distinct body forms that make for some very interesting appearances. Pick your ideal cat, review the tips on getting a healthy cat, and enjoy you're new feline friend and companion!

Ready to bring your new cat home? Here's some tips:
Cat Care - How to take care of a cat


Choosing the Best Cat

There are many domestic cats readily available from a variety of sources. So when choosing a cat, It's important to first determine whether you want a male or female cat, and whether an adult or a kitten is the best choice. Next think about is what it looks like, what kind of personality it has, how will it behave, and make sure you pick a cat that will fit with your lifestyle and home.

Care and maintenance considerations then follow, for example, choosing a longhair or shorthair cat impacts grooming and hairballs. For guidelines on care and maintenance, read about Cat Care. But no matter what type of cat you choose, you want to make sure you pick a healthy cat.

Cat Breeds

A cat must have a traceable lineage going back several generations to be registered as a pedigreed cat. Although the term "purebred" is often used by the general public, it is not used by breeders of the cat fancy in general. Currently only about 3 percent or so of the pet cats are considered to be to be pure-bred cats.

All domestic cats, whether they are common cats or pedigree cats, belong to the same species Felis catus, also called Felis domesticus. The types of domestic cat breeds include:

  • Natural Cat Breeds
    Natural breeds have evolved over long periods of time and are "breeding true". Generations of inbreeding have set the traits that define the breed. Each breed is also associated with a specific area or geographic location.
  • Mutation Cat Breeds
    Cat mutations do not have an ancient history. They are developed for an unusual and distinctive genetic characteristic or mutation.
  • Hybrid Cat Breeds
    Hybrids are also called mixed breed cats. Similar to mutation cats, they also have a more recent history. This is any cat that has more than one breed in its blood. Or it can be a mix between a domestic breed and an African wild cat species. Mixed breed cats make up more than 99% of the worlds total cat population

Exotic cats are those of different genus and species than the "common" cat. The term exotic cat generally refers to wild cat species, rather than a domestic cat breed, that are kept as pets or in domestic confinement. This category includes all types of wild species, from smallish bobcats to very large tigers, as well as all endangered wild cat species.

Cat Behaviors & Personality

Although all cats are, well cats, yet there are differences in breeds and each cat breed has a unique set of qualities. Some cat breeds are easier to handle than others. While some are gentle, cuddly and very social, others are rambunctious and always ready to play or pounce. Some can be aloof or somewhat reserved, and prefer less holding or petting. Also, the amount of shedding is dependent upon the breed, rather than on the length of the fur.

Some breeds are more appropriate for certain age groups or personality types. All domestic cats are usually appropriate for adults, but different types of cats can be better suited to one individual's lifestyle than another's. This leads to your personal preferences, ask your self what attributes you want in a cat and look at breeds with those characteristics.

The amount of affection a cat shows depends upon breed type, upbringing and genetic makeup. A cat's behavior towards humans depends to a certain extent on the kind of first contact a cat has with humans, but also on the cat's personality. Socialization is very important for kittens to become well-balanced companions as adult cats. But even with plenty of socialization, some types of cats do tend to be less affectionate than others.

There are some generalities that can be applied to pedigree cat types. Here are some general guidelines, but be sure to see the individual breed for more information:

Personality and Behavioral traits: Cat Breeds:
Undemanding
Quiet "lap cats"
Birman, Bombay, Chartreux, Havana Brown, Nebelung, Russian Blue, Scottish Fold, Selkirk Rex
Easy going, friendly cats
Good with children
American Shorthair, British Shorthair, Maine Coon, Manx, Norwegian Forest Cat, Ragdoll, Scottish Fold, Snowshoe, Turkish Van
Active cats, people oriented
Attention loving, and can be demanding
American Curl, Balinese, Burmese, Colorpoint Shorthair, Javanese, Korat, Siamese, Singapura
Active and athletic cats Abyssiinian, Bengal, Ocicat, Somali
Grooming Intensive cats Himalayan, Persian, Turkish Angora

Types of Cats - Body Form and Color

In addition to personality traits, there are also varying body types for cats. Not all types of cats have the same body type.

Cat Body Forms - Here are some guidelines for body types, as well as the types of cats that fit with these types:

  • Slender
    • Lithe and graceful but firm and muscular as well
    • Cat breeds of this type include: Abyssinian, Russian Blue, and Turkish Angora
  • Cobby
    • A broad, round body type with a broad head and shorter legs.
    • Cat breeds of this type include: Persian and Exotic Shorthair
  • Semi-Cobby (also called Robust)
    • Slightly less compact and usually less round than the cobby.
    • Cat breeds of this type include: Chartreux and British Shorthair
  • Moderate (also called medium)
    • A broad, round body type with a broad head and shorter legs.
    • Cat breeds of this type include: Bengal, Birman, Traditional Siamese, and Maine Coon
  • Svelte (also called Foreign)
    • A broad, round body type with a broad head and shorter legs.
    • Cat breeds of this type include: Extreme Siamese, Balinese, Oriental Longhair and Shorthair
  • Semi-foreign
    • Rectangular and elongated but not tubular, less long than the svelte body type.
    • Usually fine or medium boned.
    • The head is a modified wedge shape. The ears are not as large and the muzzle is usually shorter than the svelte breeds.
    • Cat breeds of this type include: Nebelung, Snowshoe, and American Cur

Cat Colors - Cat breeds can also be described by their markings or coat pattern, types of color coat patterns include:

Take a close look at your cat see if you can determine its correct body type and color coat pattern. You can also consult with your vet if you require further confirmation.

Getting a Healthy Cat

When choosing a cat, the first things that come to mind are whether you want a male or female cat, and whether an adult or a kitten the best choice. Care and maintenance considerations then follow, for example, choosing a longhair or shorthair cat impacts grooming and hairballs. For detailed cat information on care and maintenance, see Cat Care.

No matter what type of cat you get, you first want to make sure it is healthy. Indications that a cat is healthy include both its behavior and its physical condition. Here are some things to look for when picking out a cat:.

  • Cat behavior and personality
    • Look for a cat that in general displays interest in its surroundings, one that becomes intrigued when you dangle a string or toss a ball.
    • A kitten should be alert, active, playful, and inquisitive but not overly zealous.
    • If a cat or kitten is properly socialized it should neither run up to you, nor run away. One that approaches your hand to sniff it, and then is relaxed when picked up indicates a well-socialized animal.
  • Cat health
    • Body - A kitten should be the average size of its littermates. In movement, cats should run, walk, and jump with grace and balance. Gently stroke, checking for bumps, lumps, and any signs of discomfort or pain. There should be no sores, scabs, or crustiness.
    • Coat - It should be glossy and clean with a sweet smell. Fur should be fluffy with no matted or missing patches and free if parasites, like fleas.
    • Paws - Gently squeeze the paw to extend the claws to see if they need clipping. This is something that you can do later. Some cats have extra toes, this is a genetic occurrence and not a problem.
    • Nose - should be clean with no discharge, and breathing should be clear with no sniffing or sneezing.
    • Mouth - teeth should be bright and clean teeth, the gums pink and healthy, and beware of bad odors.
    • Eyes - bright, clear and alert, no discharge.
    • Ears - no discharge, sweet smelling. A cat scratching its ears often and vigorously indicates ear mites. Check the hearing with a sudden loud noise, like a clap of your hand. The cat should startle and look towards the sound. White cats with blue eyes can be totally deaf, and those with just one blue eye can be deaf in the ear on that side.
    • Tail area - the anal area and back of the legs should be clean, with no signs of diarrhea.You can check the sex also. Male kittens have two 'dots' side to side under the tail, while females have a singe dot with a small vertical slit.

References

Author: Clarice Brough CCS

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