Monday, December 12, 2016

Hybrid Cat Breeds: Lykoi

Genes are funny things, sometimes springing up for no apparent reason and with no real pattern. Back in 2011 Johnny and Brittney Gobble came across two separate litters of kittens with an unusual partially hairless pattern that was unlike anything they'd seen before. Wary of disease, the Gobbles evaluated the kittens carefully, searching for any signs of sickness or disease. Finding none, Johnny Gobble bred two of the kittens, one from each litter, to see what would happen. The result was the first intentionally bred Lykoi litter.

But there just weren't enough kittens to produce a breed that was both strong and healthy, so outcossing was inevitable. Because the mother of one of the original litters was a black domestic shorthair, black domestic cats from the area were used to expand the gene pool. Unfortunately, it turned out the gene for the unique coat was recessive, so it took some time to have enough cats with the sparse Lykoi coat for breeding programs to succeed. Even now, outcossing is common and will probably continue for some time. Though feral cats are sometimes born with the correct gene, these cats are only occasionally used in breeding programs due to their wild nature.

The Lykoi is a medium sized cat who is only partially hairless, which is not entirely unique in the cat world. The color, however, is like no other breed in existence. The hair is a combination of solid white and solid black hairs. The more white hair a cat has, the more silver he will appear, but the hairs are not actually silver or even grey. In any other animal, the color pattern would be called roan, but since only Lykoi cats have this pattern, it is simply called the Lykoi coat. Kittens are born with black fur, but by four weeks of age their permanent color pattern emerges.

The amount of hair on any give Lykoi can vary. They may be almost completely hairless or almost completely covered. They'll also occasionally molt their entire coat. Regardless of how much hair a Lykoi has, there will always be no hair around the eyes, nose, chin, muzzle, and on the backs of the ears. The skin in these areas will feel like a soft leather.

Because his hairless pattern is so sparse and patchy, the Lykoi looks like a miniature wolf. The lean body and wide ears contribute to this impression. The skin is naturally pink, but when exposed to sunlight for a few days it will darken to black. A few days out of the sun will cause the pink color to return.

These intelligent little guys are great problem solvers and tend not to need a lot of help. They like people well enough, but they don't require people to be happy. Your Lykoi will have boundless energy and will play with anything and everything. If you have two or more of these unique cats, they get along well and will entertain each other for hours on end, but a Lykoi is also perfectly happy alone. They're a little possessive, so make sure each cat has his own toys if you do decide to have more than one cat.

Naturally cautious, expect your Lykoi to take his time warming up to new people. He prefers to watch and wait until he's sure that no one presents a threat. Once he is sure, it's business as usual for this little guy. And business as usual typically means hunting for anything from a mouse to a stray paper clip. He is a predator, just like a wolf, so expect him to act like one.

If you're looking for a cat who looks and sometimes even acts like a little wolf, you might be interested in the Lykoi. Just be prepared to search long and hard for a kitten and to pay the hefty price tag for this rare cat.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Hybrid Cat Breeds: Minuet

If you cross a Persian with a Munchkin, you end up with what is known as a Minuet. This is what Joe Smith did in 1996 when he decided he wanted to create a breed that was low slung to the ground and yet had some of the more appealing features of the Persian. Because he had a particular look in mind, he used doll-faced Persians in his breeding program. They naturally had a longer nose than most Persians, lending them a more open expression Smith hoped to incorporate into his new breed. He was very much successful and applied to TICA for recognition in 2001.

But creating a new breed is a long and tedious process, so in 2008 Smith moved on to other things. That might have been the end of the Minuet as a breed, but others breeders stepped in to pick up where he left off. Many breeders can be given credit, but it was Teri Harris who presented the breed to TICA in 2011 and asked for Preliminary New Breed Status. Since then, the breed has progressed slowly and is still not recognized by most registries.

Even so, Minuets are distinct. They have the sweet face of the Persian, with a slightly longer nose, but the shorter legs of the Munchkin. The head is rounded and the eyes are large. Some Minuets have standard legs, but these are not used for breeding programs and are generally sold as pets. They do have the same face and body, however.

This medium sized cat is solid and very round. His head is round, his eyes are round, his cheeks, muzzle, and even the chest are all round. The body itself is semi-cobby, so it too has a sense of roundness. This makes them adorable and gives them an innocent expression and manner.

Gentle by nature, this cat is great with children. He is affectionate and loves his people, so he's always willing to play. He's a curious creature and he's full of energy, so expect him to 'help' you with whatever task you're currently engaged in. He likes to be in the middle of things, so he might very well decide to help you with dinner!

But he doesn't need humans to entertain him. If, for whatever reason, the people are unavailable, the Minuet can find something to do all by himself. He'll play acrobat or turn the house into a racetrack or even climb your doorways as he amuses himself. You might want to invest in a cat tree and some toys unless you want him to turn the sofa and curtains into his personal gymnasium.

If you're looking for an energetic cat with a unique look, the Minuet might be right for your household. Just keep an eye on the curtains because he can climb just about anything.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Hybrid Cat Breeds: Khaomanee

Some breeds are both ancient in origin and virtually unrecognized at the same time. Such is the case with the Khaomanee. Still a well-kept secret in its native Thailand, there are references to this majestic breed in the Tamra Maew, which is an ancient collection of Thai poems from 1350. So he's not exactly young, but he has only recently been discovered in the west.

It wasn't until 1999 that the first of these cats was imported into the United States by Colleen Freymouth. She bred the first American Khaomanee kittens even as Janet Poulson was importing a breeding pair into the United Kingdom. It took ten years, but TICA eventually accepted the Khaomanee for registration in 2009. Two years later these striking cats were advanced to Preliminary New Breed Status. Most registries, however, do not recognize the Khaomanee as a distinct breed at all.

If there is one defining characteristic of the Khaomanee, it is the eyes. The preferred eye color is actually one blue, one yellow. Sometimes the yellow eye will be more green, and sometimes a kitten is born with yellow or green eyes. Since odd-eye is preferred, kittens who are not odd-eyed are not generally included in breeding programs unless there are no other options.

The preferred coat color is white. This may, in fact, end up being the breed standard once the Khaomanee is more widely accepted. There are kittens born of other colors, however, and these kittens are as much Khaomanee as their white siblings. They're just not preferred for breeding programs.

In addition to coat color and the odd-eyes, the Khaomanee can be spotted by its heart-shaped head and high cheekbones. Ears should be large and entirely upright, giving the cat an alert appearance. All in all, the Khaomanee is a joy to behold.

Playful and a little bit naughty, the Khaomanee is devoted to his own people but sees himself as far above all who enter his domain. Humans, canines, other cats...they are all less than he is, and they all owe him a snuggle. Guests should expect a social and demanding feline companion the moment they step through the door. Once the guests have departed, however, he'll be right back in your lap, enjoying the company of his own human.

He is a curious cat and can often be found exploring cupboards, crawling thought the pantry, or scaling a bookshelf. He'll happily play fetch or climb the nearest curtain, so he has no trouble keeping in shape. You may have trouble keeping your curtains in one piece, however.

The Khaomanee is a fun loving and exciting companion. He's a wonderful addition to many households, but he's not great with dogs or other pets.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Cat Breeds: Ragamuffin

The Ragamuffin is one of those newer breeds with a somewhat hazy past. We do know that this sensitive breed was developed in 1994 from the experimental "Cherubim" cat Ann Baker tried to create in the 1960s from street cats in California. We don't really know the full story, and are not likely to discover it, but we do know that though Ann Baker is also connected to the development of the Ragdoll breed, the two breeds are not the same. There are very specific differences that warrant this cat being recognized as a separate and distinct breed.

Luckily, most registries agree. Both the Cat Fanciers' Association and the Cat Fanciers' Federation, accepted the Ragamuffin in the early 2000s, and granted them Championship Status not long after. Today, most associations acknowledge the breed, though some still contend that the Ragamuffin is merely a variant of the Ragdoll. This is, of course, nonsense.

The Appearance of the Ragamuffin

The body of a Ragamuffin is substantial and heavy. He's a large cat, weighing up to 20 pounds, and he definitely feels like it. Females tend to be significantly smaller, not usually weighing more than 13 pounds. Regardless of gender, this cat is heavily boned and well rounded. He even has a fatty pad on his abdomen, giving him more weight.

These guys take up to four years to reach maturity, so they're kittens for a long time. If you're comparing them to their cousin, the Ragdoll, you might notice that the Ragamuffin has a rounder head and a shorter nose, so he lacks the more gentle curves of the Ragdoll.

Ragamuffins come in all colors and patterns, and they may or may not have white patches. Some registries restrict which colors and patterns can be shown, but most registries that accept the breed also accept that the colors are quite a bit more varied than the colors of the Ragdoll. In essence, a Ragamuffin can look like whatever a Ragamuffin wants to look like.

Coats are a bit longer than the Ragdoll, but they're just as soft and just as low maintenance. A quick brushing once a week will do the trick. Their coats don't tend to mat and they don't shed as much as you'd expect for a cat with fully furred, medium-long hair. They're also so soft you'll find yourself unable to take your hands off the plush furball sitting on your lap.

The Personality of the Ragamuffin

The Ragamuffin is one of the sweetest of cats. He forms a strong bond with his family and pines for his people when they're not around. He doesn't like to be alone, so most people get two of these lovely beasts. Two Ragamuffins are better than one, guaranteed. Besides, this cat breed is just a little addictive. Most people find they want a second cat in short order anyway.

Calm and patient, this cat is great with children. He'll sit for hours in a baby stroller, tolerate being dressed up, and even sit through a game of checkers or a tea party. He's eager to please, making him highly trainable. He'll learn to fetch, to walk on a leash, and will usually come when called. Except when he doesn't. He is a cat, after all.

His temperament makes him a great pet for almost any household. He'll play with children, sit on the lap of an adult, and generally just offer unconditional love and support.

Like his Ragdoll cousin, the Ragamuffin tends to go quite limp when you lift him in your arms. This is temporary and normal, so don't fret. He'll be back to curling up on your lap as soon as you put him down. But for all his napping and cuddling,  he's not a lazy cat. You'll find him playing with a scrap of paper or bounding about the room at the oddest hours.

One important thing about this gentle giant is that he's far too trusting. He assumes everyone is his friend and wants to play. Because of this, he should not be left alone outside. He's far too likely to trust the wrong dog or assume the car won't run over him to be left among such dangers unsupervised.

The Ragamuffin is gentle and loving. If you're looking for a sweetheart of a cat and like having a giant furball on your lap at all hours, the Ragamuffin might be for you.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Cat Breeds: European Burmese

The European Burmese and its cousin, the Burmese, are descended from the same source. A cat named Wong Mau was the first Burmese brought to the west in the 1930s. Since she was the only one of her kind, she had to be bred to other breeds of similar type. The Siamese, being the obvious choice, was selected. Both solid and pointed kittens were produced from these breedings, with the solid kittens selected for the new Burmese breeding program.

But what about the pointed kittens? They weren't quite Siamese but they were of no use in the Burmese programs. They might have been discarded, lost to time, but a few intrepid breeders kept these kittens and labelled them European Burmese. It took time, but breeders managed to establish firm breeding programs to create and promote their new breed. Today these guys are rare, but still out there. They're just difficult to find.

The Appearance of the European Burmese

With a body that is sleek and round at the same time, the European Burmese is the perfect blend of the Siamese and the Burmese. He has short hair and is medium in size, which serves to emphasize his graceful contours and solid boning. Eyes should be large and alert and range in color from yellow to gold.

The coat should be short and soft. Unlike the Burmese, the European Burmese allow many different colors. Blue, brown, chocolate, cream, lilac, and even soft apricot reds are just some of the allowable colors. Tortoiseshell colors are also around and gaining in popularity. The pointed areas of the cat should vary, but this variation can be quite subtle or remarkably obvious. It depends on the particular cat. Marked points are preferred, but more subtle points are still allowed in competition.

The European Burmese doesn't need bathing and only rarely requires grooming. A soft rubber brush is all you really need to brush out your cat once a week.

The Personality of the European Burmese

The European Burmese is a real people cat. He loves to be with people and hates to be alone. Loyal to a fault, once you've earned his love there's nothing you can so to get rid of him. He'll follow you around, almost stalking you, until you sit down so he can curl up on your lap. When you get up again, he's going with you. He bonds strongly to a single person, but loves other as well, especially if they'll pet him.

Both intelligent and affectionate, a European Burmese will slip his way into whatever you're doing. Dishes? No problem. He'll get right in the dishwasher. Laundry? He's probably already in the dryer. And don't bother with paperwork. He's sitting on it so you'll have to play with him first. He needs your attention and knows just how to get it.

Because he loves people, all people, children are perfect companions for the European Burmese. He will play and snuggle all day if you let him. He also loves other cats and can become fast friends with the right dog, so he's suitable for most households.

If you're looking for a sweet and affectionate cat who will love you until the sky falls down, you might be looking for a European Burmese.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Cat Breeds: Burmilla

While the Burmilla is one of the newer breeds to be recognized by most associations, its origins actually go back over thirty years. And its origins were entirely an accident. A chinchillla Persian male cat was purchased by Baroness Miranda Von Kirchberg for her husband in early 1981. She was going to have him neutered, but before she could do so, he met a sweet little lilac Burmese female.

As often happens, nature took its course and on September 11, 1981 a little of four kittens were born to the Burmese female. All four kittens had short hair and were black shaded silver in color with piercing gold eyes that would later deepen to green.  These kittens were so attractive and so sweet that a breeding program was immediately established and the Burmilla was born.

The Appearance of the Burmilla

Muscular and solid, the Burmilla is a medium sized cat with a sculpted appearance from head to tail. The head should be rounded and the muzzle broad. Eyes are green, but they can start off as good or yellow when the kitten is born. A fully mature cat of at least three years should always have green eyes, but this green can take a while to appear, so don't expect your kitten to have green eyes.

The coat of all Burmillas is a sparkling silver that draws every eye. The distinctive markings on the face, which should extend directly up the nose, are often referred to as makeup. This makeup should mark the nose and line the eyes and mouth, giving the cat a sweet and open expression.

Though most people don't realize it, there are actually two coat lengths for the Burmilla. Most cats have the traditional short hair of their Burmese ancestors, but some actually have a semi-long coat. It's not as long as a Persia, but it's certainly longer than the short haired variety. Both coat lengths are acceptable in competition.

The Personality of the Burmilla

Independent and just a little irreverent, the Burmilla adores his owner but doesn't always want to show it, especially around strangers. His kitten-like attitude persists well into adulthood, but he's never annoying. Instead he is fun and gentle and always willing to nap beside you.

The temperament of the Burmilla is really quite extraordinary. He can very demanding and cuddly one moment, mischievous and playful the next. He is easy going and relaxed, like a Persian, but also social and affectionate, like the Burmese. He talks, but he's usually quiet. He is sweet natured, but tends toward inquisitive and even snoopy. A mass of contrasts describes the Burmilla best, but that's what tends to attract people to this intelligent little guy.

The Burmilla is still rare in the United States, and not exactly bountiful in Europe. If you want one, you'll have to be prepared to wait and you may have to pay a hefty price. But the exuberant and loving Burmilla is worth it, especially if you're looking for a stunning cat with a unique personality.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Cat Breeds: Turkish Van

As breeds go, the Turkish Van is one of the oldest. It's also one of the least well known, though almost every feline registry in the world acknowledges this cat as a distinct and separate breed. The ancestors of the modern Turkish Van have been roaming the mountainous areas of the Eastern Anatolian region of Turkey since at least the Middle Ages. They've probably been there much longer than that, but there is no real evidence one way or another.

Despite its ancient origins, the Turkish Van was only discovered in the 1950s. Laura Lushington and Sonia Halliday were travelling in Turkey when they spotted white cats with auburn markings covering their heads and tails. Intrigued, these ladies were able to acquire two of the kittens. The kittens travelled with the women until they returned to England. During these travels, the women noticed that the kittens, unlike other cats they had encountered, truly loved the water. They'd splash in fountains, run through puddles, and generally get into any water they could find.  Because these kittens were unique in their look and attitude, Lushington and Halliday decided to start a breeding program in England.

But the Turkish Van is rare, even in Turkey, so there weren't many cats available to export to other nations. It took a concentrated effort, one involving breeders from all over the world, to preserve and promote this breed. Breeders were rewarded for their years or dedication with recognition by TICA in 1979. Other registries soon followed once it became clear that this breed was happy and healthy and very different from other breeds out there. Even his attitude was different. This guy might be rare, but he's a joy to behold.

The Appearance of the Turkish Van

Large and powerful, the Turkish Van can weigh up to 20 pounds, though 15 is a more common weight. Regardless of size, all of these cats have a van pattern coat, which means white and colored patches, with the colored patches being restricted to the head and tail. The white should be a pure white, not at all yellowed. There is the occasional Turkish Van that is pure white, with no markings of any kind, but these are rare and usually referred to as the Van Kedi. They are also not preferred in competition, though they are just as sweet as their van patterned counterparts.  Eye color can vary, but most Turkish Vans have blue, gold, or odd-eyes.

The traditional color of the Turkish Van is a deep auburn, but most solid colors are allowed by most registries. Auburn is still the preferred color, however, so if you're looking for a show cat, you might want to look at auburn kittens. No matter what color your kitten is, this rare breed has silky fur that grows softer as he ages. Fur should be longer in the winter, long enough for the cat to have a generous tail plume, but sheds out much shorter in the summer. Grooming isn't necessarily an issue, but you should brush him out once a week and bathe him once in a while. He likes these things, so grooming and bathing is not difficult.

The Personality of the Turkish Van

Affectionate and loyal, this robust breed loves to play. He'll engage in a fun round of fetch, chase the kids as they squeal in delight, and even pester the dog into a rousing game of tag. Though he loves to cuddle, he's not overbearing at all. His great intelligence and love of people make him a great companion for just about any household.

Unlike most cats, the Turkish Van loves water. Whether it's a dripping faucet or a sprinkler in the backyard, expect your kitty to be fascinated. A happy Turkish Van is one who has room to run and splash, so consider adding a water feature to your yard so he can have some fun. Even an indoor fountain will make him happy, though he might make a mess with all his splashing. He might even swim in a pool--even if you don't want him too!

If you're looking for a fun and engaging companion who likes to hang out at the poolside, the Turkish Van might be for you.