Monday, February 2, 2015

Cat Breeds: Manx and Cymric

Though some people believe that the Manx cat lost its tail when Noah closed the Ark doors a little too quickly, history tells a different tale. The Manx originated on the Isle of Man, but its ancestors probably arrived by ship from England, Wales, or even Scotland. The genetic mutation that created the unique tail of the Manx occurred on the Isle of Man at least as early as 1810, but there is some evidence to suggest that the tailless cats were running around as early as 1750. We may never really know for sure.

The mutation that caused kittens to be born without the vertebrae of a normal tail is likely the result of inbreeding. The Isle of Man is fairly small, after all, and there were relatively few cats for the breed to develop. In time, some of these tailless cats grew long hair, others remained shorthaired. The shorthaired kittens were labeled Manx, while the longhaired ones received the name of Cymric. The only difference between these two breeds is the length of hair.

The International Cat Association (TICA) recognized both the Manx and the Cymric, granting them championship status, in June of 1979.

The Appearance of the Manx and Cymric

Since the two cats are identical except for coat length, there is little point in describing the same characteristics twice. Both cats are found in all patterns and colors, some more desirable than others. Bold colors and dramatic markings are best, but any color or pattern is acceptable in this versatile breed.

Both versions of this cat have thick coats, giving them a round appearance. The Manx has a short, glossy coat with a glossy appearance. The Cymric should have longer hair that is both silky and plush. A neck ruff and fluffy breeches are required in the longhaired Cymric.

The Cymric and the Manx are both medium in size with a rounded body and head. They resemble furry little bowling bowls and are often referred to as such with great affection. Though they may appear large with their fluffy fur, they are typically no more than 10 pounds.

Despite their reputation for having no tails, these breeds are not all tailless. The tail may be stubby and may even have a slight curl. Even cats with no tails at all have all the nerve endings of a tail, so take care when handling the hindquarters of either breed.

The Personality of the Manx and Cymric

Both the Cymric and the Manx are gentle cats with a sweet and playful disposition. Because these cats are affectionate and quite dependent on people for company, they should not be left alone for long periods. They're not cats you can leave for a week while you go off on vacation, so take this into account.

These cats are not generally great with children and other pets cause of their sensitive tail area. They are amusing for adults, however, and will indulge in a game of fetch if properly enticed. You might even find your Manx or Cymric burying their toys rather like a dog. Neither breed is overly loud, but they will engage you in conversation with a soft thrilling sound if you listen long enough.

If you're looking for a quiet cat who will crave your company, the Manx or the Cymric may be for you. Both breeds require little grooming, just a weekly brushing to keep the coat soft and healthy, so the maintenance are nearly identical.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Characteristics of the Maine Coon

The origin of the Maine Coon is surrounded by mystery and legend. Though once considered a result of raccoons and cats breeding, we know now that this is not the case. Well, most of us know. There are still some people who believe it, crazy as it might sound. The truth is probably that cats from Europe wandered freely and bred, creating a breed that is strong, healthy, prolific, and naturally occurring. There was probably more interest in them Maine, hence the addition of 'Maine' to the Coon Cat title the cat had earned.

The Appearance of the Maine Coon

The Maine Coon has a semi-long coat. This coat is water-resistant and incredibly heavy. Some way the cat is all fluff and no substance. Nonsense, of course. The hair is shorter on the back and neck, but much longer on the ruff, stomach, and britches of the cat. Despite its length, the coat is smooth and requires little maintenance. A weekly brushing does it. The bushy tail sets the Maine Coon apart from most other breeds. All in all, a stunning example of a feline.

This large cat, which weighs in at up to 18 pounds, comes in almost all colors and patterns, though the brown classic or mackerel tabby is the most common. All colors and patterns may have white markings. The eyes should be large, expressive, and range in color from gold to green. They should shine with an inner light.

The Personality of the Maine Coon

There are few cats in the world more laid back than the Maine Coon. This breed will get along well with children and other pets. He'll also show great affection and will play with people a great deal. It's not unusual to see a Maine Coon playing with children, adults, or even dogs if he happens to be bored.

Despite all this, he is not too dependent and can't really be described as a lap cat. When you're home, expect him to hang around, but if you're not he can entertain himself well enough. Though you may not like the activities he chooses...still, he's not destructive and will generally behave himself.

Typically a quiet cat, expect the Maine Coon to communicate in soft thrills and little chirps. Pay attention to these sounds and he'll speak more often. Ignore them and he'll either ignore you or find another way to get your attention.

If you're looking for a large breed sturdy enough to play alongside kids and dogs, the Maine Coon cat may be the cat for you. Expect your cat to romp through the house, and to make a little noise doing so. He is among the heaviest of domestic cats, after all.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Cat Breeds: LaPerm

Sometimes a new breed just shows up out of the blue. On a cherry orchard in March of 1982 a brown tabby gave birth to a little of six kittens. One of these kittens, a small female, was not like the others. She was a tabby, but she was long, skinny, and completely hairless. She stayed hairless until she was around six weeks old, at which time she started growing a sparse and yet curly coat. As she matured, this coat became soft and waxy.

This was the first of these interesting cats, but it wasn't the last to be born on the cherry orchard. Their owner, Linda Koehl, decided to enter six of these kittens into a cat show in her area. The judges were pleased with her kittens, so she started a breeding program that would eventually establish the foundation for the LaPerm cat breed.

At first almost all of the kittens were born bald, only later developing the curly coat that is a signature of the breed. A few were born with straight hair and kept this straight hair even as they matured. Then a kitten named Snow Fire was born. He started out with straight hair, but it shed out and was replaced with a curly coat and even curly whiskers. This was the first time that had happened, but it's since become commonplace.

It took twenty years of perfecting the breed, but the LaPerm was finally granted championship status by The International Cat Association (TICA) in February of 2003. They have since been used to create a few hybrid cats including the Skookum.

The Appearance of the LaPerm

The LaPerm is a medium-sized cat with a strong and yet slightly strange-looking body type. They can weigh up to 10 pounds and have large, cupped ears. The eyes should be almond-shaped and have a loving appearance. Any eye color is acceptable.

The most distinctive feature of this breed is, of course, the coat. Guard hairs, awn hairs, and down hairs are present, which would make the coat relatively normal if it weren't for the curls. The curls are responsible for the coarse texture. Because of these curls the coat stands away from the body. The longest hairs should be around the neck, creating a ruff effect. Even the whiskers, eyebrows, and the hairs in the ears are curly.

There is both a shorthaired LaPerm and a longhaired LaPerm. The longhaired cat has a plume to its tail while the shorthaired cat has a tail that resembles a bottlebrush. Coats are thicker and fuller in the cooler months, and older cats tend to have a more developed coat than the younger cats. All coat colors and pattern are acceptable provided the coat is the traditional LaPerm coat.

Another benefit of this coat is that it does not tangle and doesn't fall out (think poodle, but in cat form). A light brushing once a week will remove any loose hair and keep the coat bright and shining.

The Personality of the LaPerm

Unlike some of the more aloof breeds, the LaPerm loves to be around people and can be found sitting on laps, shoulders, and sometimes heads (as my son will attest to). They make incredible family cats as they are gentle, patient, and friendly. A LaPerm will generally get along well with children and other pets. They're also incredibly entertaining with their kitten like antics. A LaPerm will never grow out of this kittenish attitude.

If you're looking for a cat that doesn't shed a whole lot, is great with kids, and is a bit of a clown, the LaPerm might be for you.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Cat Breeds: Kurilian Bobtail

Some cat breeds aren't yet recognized by the majority of associations but may eventually attain championship status. Sometimes this lack of status is because a breed is so new. Sometimes, however, it's simply that the breed is virtually unknown. The Kurilian Bobtail fits squarely into the latter category.

The Kurilian Bobtail is a breed that developed naturally on the Kuril Islands. These stretch from the Japanese island of Hokkaido to the edge of Russia. These cute cats with their little bobtails have apparently been running around the Kuril Islands for at least two hundred years, but they weren't brought to Russia until the middle of the 20th century. And they didn't make it to North American until even later than that. Even today there are less than a hundred Kurilian Bobtails in the United States. No wonder the breed hasn't been recognized.

Despite their undeniable cute factor, the Kurilian Bobtail is actually a rather large cat with an almost-cobby body shape. The coat is fluffy and soft with either long or short hair. Like many other breeds, both coat lengths are acceptable. Color is equally varied with both solid and tabby colors showing up in the same litter.

The most distinctive trait of the Kurilian Bobtail is, of course, the tail. There are dozens of different tail structures, each its own variation of a little pom-pom. The tails should be fluffy and held tight to the body.

As house pets, this breed gets along with just about everyone. Children, cats, other pets, all are accepted by the sociable Kurilian Bobtail. They like to play games, especially games involving running or jumping, so they're good cats for a high-activity household. They're not entirely happy on their own, but they do well enough with another cat or even a dog. You can also entertain them wish a fish tank, but make sure it's well secured. They are a curious breed, after all.

The Kurilian Bobtail may never become a recognized breed, but if it doesn't it's only because they're so rare. Incredibly rare might be the better way to describe this energetic breed. If you do come across the Kurilian Bobtail, you're in for a treat.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Cat Breeds: Korat

The Korat has been around a long time. The earliest known picture of this elegant breed appears in The Cat-Book Poems. Written sometime between 1350 and 1767, this is probably the oldest manuscript devoted exclusively to cats. There is an illustration within this book that features a cat that looks remarkably like the Korat. This cat, along with the other cats in that illustration, were thought to bring good luck.

In more modern times, the Korat first appeared in England. in the late 1800s. They were shown as "Blue Siamese" between 1889 and 1896, but because they didn't conform to the traditional Siamese standards they disappeared from competition by 1901.

It wasn't until 1959 that the first breeding pair of Korats were imported into the United States. Though they were not immediately accepted into championship status, several breeders persisted and by 1966 they were competing with the other recognized breeds.

The Appearance of the Korat

There is no mistaking the Korat. With their bright blue coloring (or as bright a blue as cats get), they stand out in the crowd. And though the blue color might be the only accepted color in most associations, some groups accept lilac and pointed cats as well. The coat is short, making grooming a breeze, and they are an about average shedder.

The Korat is a medium sized cat with a powerful and muscled body. Unlike many other cat breeds, the Korat can take up to five years to reach maturity. During this time, they may be lanky until they fill out. Their eyes will also change. Though blue as kittens, the eyes will eventually shift to bright amber when they are only a few weeks old. Then the eyes will change again, this time to a brilliant peridot, when the cat is between two and four years of age. When the eye color changes to peridot, the cat is nearing maturity.

The Personality of the Korat

Active and intelligent, the Korat will quickly form a strong bond with its family. They are affectionate creatures prone to cuddling or simply following at your feet. Be prepared to trip on your Korat several times a day. That or shoo him off the counter whenever he jumps up for a snuggle. This breed doesn't like to be alone, so if you're going to be gone for several hours at a time, consider getting a second Korat so they can keep each other company. For some ridiculous reason, these cats like to hang out with humans, and they like to hang out with each other, but they don't tend to like other cat breeds very much. Korats love Korats. Stubborn little brats.

Though this cat is among the more active breeds, it's also a great breed to have with children. They love to play and can handle some minor roughhousing, but they're incredibly gentle at the same time. They also like to chirp, which is endlessly entertaining for children and adults alike. Korats don't really like loud noises as a general rule, but they seem to make an exception for children.

A hardy cat, the Korat is the perfect fit for families with children provided there aren't other cats (unless they're Korats too) and dogs. Or small pets. These guys are active enough to hunt just about anything. For the cat-loving household, Korats can provide endless entertainment and love.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Cat Breeds: Japanese Bobtail

Many of today's cat breeds are fairly new, but some of them are truly ancient. The Japanese Bobtail has been around for at least a thousand years. Their existence has been documented in Japanese writings and paintings for at least that long. They're considered good luck in Japan and around the world.

The first Japanese Bobtails appeared in North America in 1968 when Judy Crawford sent several of the cats to Elizabeth Freret. Later, when Judy returned to the United States herself, she brought several more cats with her. The two women worked tirelessly to have the cats recognized as an independent breed, but only the shorthaired version of the breed was recognized in 1979 by TICA. The longhaired version wasn't recognized until 1991. Today, most associations recognize the shorthaired Japanese Bobtail, but the longhaired cat is still sometimes refused championship status.

The Appearance of the Japanese Bobtail

The single most distinctive feature of the Japanese Bobtail is the little bob that serves as a tail. This bob is unique to each cat and may include kinks, curls, curves, and angles. The tail should be very close to the body, appearing as no more than a pom-pom at the end of the spine. The hair on the tail should be longer than the hair on the body. The bones of the tail are fragile and require careful handling. They're also typically fused, making it possible for this delightful cat to actually wag its tail.

The coat may be either short or long, but it must lack an undercoat in either case. This is what makes the coat lie flat against the body. Even the longhaired variety isn't 'fluffy' in the traditional sense. There should be relatively little shedding and the silkiness of the coat itself keeps matting to a minimum. A weekly brush keeps the coat in pristine condition.

Coat colors are many and varied. The traditional color is a mainly white body with black and deep red markings, but other colors are also accepted. There are just as many options for eye color, but blue or even eyes of two different colors are preferred over all others.

This medium-sized cat should weigh no more than 10 pounds. The hind legs should be powerful, giving the Japanese Bobtail its extraordinary jumping ability. The body itself should be slender yet strong. The head should be triangular with large eyes and ears set high upon the head.

The Personality of the Japanese Bobtail

Many cat breeds are intelligent, but the Japanese Bobtail is exceptionally so. They are active and love to talk, so expect a lot of chirp and meows if you have a Japanese Bobtail in your home. This cat also loves to play, especially if the game involves running and jumping, so search out cat toys that allow the cat to indulge in these activities.

You'd be hard pressed to find a breed that is more loyal to their family. Despite this, they are not lap cats. They'll often be found crawling on top of cupboards or perched on top of the fridge, but they are only rarely caught snuggling up to a human. They prefer to show their love by staring at you like you're the only thing that matters.

The Japanese Bobtail is sweet, intelligent, and fun-loving. They enjoy many hours spent chasing a ball or an afternoon of climbing the curtains. If you're looking for a cat that is independent and loyal, the Japanese Bobtail might be for you.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cat Breeds: Himalayan

Colorpoint cats such as the Siamese have always held a mystical quality, one that has attracted many cat fanciers over the years. But, until the 20th century, colorpoint breeds all had short hair. If you wanted a longhaired version, you had to cross a colorpoint breed to a longhaired breed and hope you got a longhaired kitten with colorpoint markings.

But in the 20th century, all that started to change. It began in the early 1930s in the United States. Clyde Keeler and Virginia Cobb began an experimental breeding program. They hoped to achieve a more stable longhaired breed that had colorpoint markings. This program had its ups and downs, meeting with only limited success. In the 1950s, however, Ben Borrett started a similar program in Canada. This program was much more successful, and in 1955 the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) recognized the Colorpoint Longhair as its own breed, but this wasn't the end of the story.

Around this same time, Marguerita Goforth began her breeding program. Her goal was to create a Persian-type cat with Siamese markings. She was also determined to have the Himalayan recognized as its own distinct breed, and not simply another colorpoint breed. Through her efforts, the Himalayan was given Championship status in 1957. Since that time, the Himalayan has been a well established breed.

The Appearance of the Himalayan

If you picture a "Persian with Siamese markings", that describes a Himalayan perfectly. This regal cat even has the bright blue eyes of a Siamese. The Himalayan is a medium-sized cat with a cobby body. Like the Persian, the Himalayan should have a large, rounded head and a thick neck. Ears should be small and set low on the head. The tail should be short, at least when compared to most other breeds, but still long enough to give the cat a balanced look.

The coat is very much like the Persian coat, long and silky. The top coat should be shiny and the undercoat just thick enough to make the cat appear quite fluffy. This combination results in many, many tangles, so consider a Himalayan only if you're willing to groom your cat daily. This breed needs it.

As for color, the body of the cat should be a uniform cream (or similar shade). The points (ears, face mask, tail, legs and feet) should be a contrasting color, and it is this color that is considered the color of the cat. The Himalayan can be found in lavender, chocolate, seal point, and several other colors. Basically, if the Siamese comes in that color, so does the Himalayan.

The Personality of the Himalayan

Loving and affectionate, the Himalayan is the ultimate lap cat. They're not all that active, preferring to cuddle instead. Like the Siamese, they are quite vocal, so expect your day to be filled with chips and meows. Maybe even a few yowls if they get annoyed enough.

Though they do like to play a little, especially with scrunched up paper, they don't do well in high activity households. A quieter home is better suited to this elegant breed. They get along with other pets and even children, but they don't like to be bothered. So if you're going to bring a Himalayan into your home, teach children and even adults how to behave around your new feline companion.

Himalayans are sweet and loving. They make great companions for the elderly or those who live alone and need a friend. But they require extensive grooming and they don't like to be home alone. If you're home a lot and don't mind brushing out your cat on a daily basis, the Himalayan might be for you.