Monday, July 25, 2016

Hybrid Cat Breeds: Savannah

Many times, cats that are directly descended from wild cats have a difficult time achieving recognition as a pure and true breed. This has happened, at least in great part, with the Savannah. In April of 1986 a domestic female cat mated with an African Serval, which is a wild cat found in certain parts of Africa. The resulting kitten was larger than a typical domestic cat, buy not quite as large as the African Serval. Though the coat pattern was clearly inherited from the father, the calmness and love of humans was all domestic cat. A true hybrid if there ever was one.

This first generation hybrid kitten was the very first Savannah cat, but he would not be the last. Over the next fifteen years, breeders would work tirelessly to perfect and stabilize their breed. This hard work paid off when TICA recognized the breed in 2001. Today the cat competes in the Advanced New Breed category, but it has yet to gain widespread acceptance, probably because of its rather wild ancestry. This is unlikely to change in the immediate future, but there is hope that one day the Savannah will compete as any other breed within most registries.

The Savannah is a large and sleek cat, very much resembling that African ancestor they so take after. Ears should be tall and alert and standing straight up on the head while the eyes are slightly angled. These two factors make the Savannah appear mildly surprised all the time. Long legs and a long body make him appear taller than he actually is, which is impressive in a cat already as large as the solid Savannah.

The coat is particularly distinctive, more so than even the spotted Bengal. Spots and strips abound and should be easily seen even from a distance. They should be placed in such a manner that they cannot be confused with traditional tabby markings. If it looks like a tabby cat, it is a tabby cat. Savannahs are truly unique and not mistaken for other cats.

Active and very curious, the Savannah loves to play games such as fetch and chase the invisible mouse through the house. He is in desperate need of regular exercise, so make sure you provide plenty of stimulation for your feline buddy. Toys and climbing habitats are an absolute necessity if you want to keep him from shredding your curtains. A friend is even better because they'll be obsessed with each other rather than tearing up the bottom of your couch or bed.

This large breed needs people and hates to be alone, which is another good reason to get more than one cat if you're away from home for hours at a time on a regular basis. He needs human interaction almost to an annoying degree, but don't expect him to be a lap cat. He'll be loyal and affectionate, but he prefers to show his love through playing and pestering than a long cuddle. He's got too much energy to stay in one place for long.

With a short coat that needs little in the way of grooming, the Savannah is a low maintenance breed who can make a pest of himself if he's ignored. If you want a friend with almost doglike loyalty, the Savannah might be for you.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Cat Breeds: Russian Blue

Also known as Archangel cats, the Russian Blue originated near the Russian port of Arkangelsk on the White Sea, a mere 150 miles south of the Arctic Circle. So it made sense to call them Archangel cats simply because of where they came from, though they are an angelic little breed.

Because Arkangelsk was a port city, it was relatively easy for these cats to spread throughout Europe simply by boarding the ships that came through. They made excellent hunters, so were prized by shop captains for catching rats. The Russian Blue spread so quickly that the first cat show in England in 1880 included these stunning creatures.

Prior to 1912, all blue cats with short hair competed in the same class. But by the end of 1912 Russian Blues were granted their own class, but they were described as Foreign Blues, not Russian. There was some controversy over this, but World War I distracted everyone from cats, leaving the matter unsettled for years to come.

After the war, breeding slowly picked up where it had left off, but the war had taken a toll. The gene pool had severely diminished, forcing breeders to resort to outcrosses to revitalize the breed. Some breeders used the British Shorthair for its color, others the blue point Siamese for the more foreign body type. In Scandinavia, breeders decided on blue cats and Siamese cats. Their kittens had short, tight coats and bright emerald eyes.

By the time the Russian Blue was imported into the United States, there were quite a few versions to choose from. Most American breeders used English and Scandinavian cats, breeding for the best features of both. Through their concentrated efforts we were blessed with the modern Russian Blue, a cat with a pale blue coat tipped with silver who has eyes the shade of quality emeralds.

The Appearance of the Russian Blue

Medium in size, the Russian Blue is graceful and elegant. His body had a foreign appearance while being both athletic and muscular. Legs should be long and fine, ears large and set so they frame the face. The eyes are quite distinctive with their emerald green color, and they are noticeable as they are round and just a little large for the face.

The Russian Blue isn't a Russian Blue without the characteristic blue coat. The coat should be short and dense and tipped with silver. This silver gives the cat an impressive shimmer. It looks impressive, and it is, but it's also relatively low maintenance. A quick brushing once a week is all most Russian Blues ever need.

The Personality of the Russian Blue

Incredibly affectionate and quite intelligent, this quick witted breed likes to stalk and observe people before he comes out of hiding. He's not shy or scared, he just likes to set the terms of his affection.

Once he does approach, he will not leave you alone. He might be able to entertain himself while you're away, but when you're home, you're all his. If you have children or other pets, so much the better, because he loves everyone equally. Also, there will be more people to play fetch.

If you're looking for a stunning cat who will love you to eternity, and you're willing to play fetch for hours on end, the Russian Blue might be the cat for you.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Cat Breeds: Ragdoll

The Ragdoll, though not an ancient breed, has been with us since the 1960s. Early in that decade a woman by the name of Ann Baker, a native of California, owned a pure white longhaired cat she called Josephine. She and one of her daughters, along with a seal matted male cat (who happened to be called Daddy Warbucks), are the very foundation of what would become the Ragdoll breed.

Though this gentle breed undoubtedly would not exist without the efforts of Ms. Baker, she was just a little on the eccentric side. She claimed that, during a period when she was in the hospital after a car accident, Josephine's genes were somehow altered. In her mind, this made the kittens born before the accident "normal" while the kittens born after exhibited the traits Ragdoll cats have become famous for. Whatever the truth of the matter, she did manage to select cats that furthered her breeding program.

But she couldn't do it all alone. The gene pool needed strengthening. To do this, she contacted breeders from across the United States, enlisting there help to help develop her breed. Eventually, however, her continued and worsening eccentricities encouraged most breeders to turn away from her. But this was not the end of the breed. Instead, the various breeders continued to develop the Ragdoll independent of Baker's influence.

Eventually, with the help of breeders from all across the country and the world, the Ragdoll became recognized by most major cat registries around the world.

The Appearance of the Ragdoll

Weighing in at up to 20 pounds, the Ragdoll is one of the largest of all domestic breeds. Because of their unusual size, they can take up to four years to reach maturity. In this four years they become large, long, sturdy, and quite hardy.

The eyes of this sweet natured cat must be blue to be admissible in competition, thought the occasional green or yellow does pop up. Round and large, these eyes give the cat a sweet and knowing expression.

This breed has a coat that is soft and silky and about medium in length. In general, there is little shedding associated with the Ragdoll, though they do drop hair in both the spring and fall. Despite their longer hair, they require little more grooming than a weekly brushing to help prevent tangles.

Coat colors are many and varied. A Ragdoll may be blue, chocolate, cinnamon, fawn, lilac, tortoiseshell, or even red and cream. You may also find cats with more tabby colouring, though this is more rare.

There are three acceptable color patterns. Colorpoint Ragdolls are marked like Siamese and have no white on their bodies. Mitted Ragdolls are similar, but they have white feet. The back legs have white all the way up to the hock and there might be a blaze of white on the chest. Finally, bi-color Ragdolls have much more white. You will find the white markings go much higher on the legs and there will be white patches on the back. The belly will be white and the cat will usually have seen white on the face. Most of these patterns are accepted by most cat registries.

The Personality of the Ragdoll

The most distinctive feature of this breed is that most of them for limp when you pick them up for a snuggle. It's a little hilarious and sometimes new owners think their is something wrong with their new friend, but it's completely normal.

Ragdolls tend to be relaxed and friendly, making them great family pets. Most adults will even allow themselves to be dressed up. They like children and other pets and can even tolerate a rambunctious dog if they have to. Kittens are bold and active, and even young adults might display these traits, but mature cats are not really interested in much activity. While they might occasionally chase a toy, they'd really much rather nap in the sun, so don't expect a rowdy companion.

If you're looking for a sweet feline companion who sleeps beside you most of the time, the Ragdoll might be for you.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Cat Breeds: Pixiebob

Originating in the northwestern United States, the Pixiebob has only been with us since the late '80s. In 1985, a woman by the name of Carol Ann Brewer bought a kitten from Washington state. This kitten was a spotted male with a short tail and he was a polydactyl cat. This means he had more than the normal amount of toes. While the typical cat has five toes on the front paws and four on the back, this new kitten had more. It made him unique and adorable, but Brewer thought no more of it than that.

The next year, in 1986, she rescued a classic patterned male cat who had a short tail and stood nearly to her knees. He also was a polydactyl cat. She gave this cat a name. Keba. Later that same year, Keba and a domestic female produced a little of kittens. One of these kittens, a female, had a reddish coat with fawn undertones. She had a muted spotting pattern and had inherited her father's shortened tail. Brewer decides to call this cat Pixie.

Pixie's unique look promoted Brewer to create more cat with these same traits. It took some work, as creating a new breed always does, but by 1989 she was able to document the unique traits of her emerging cat breed, which she called the Pixiebob. It was 1993 before Brewer was able to apply to The International Cat Association (TICA) to begin the recognition process, and 1994 when the Pixiebob was granted Exhibition Status.

Finally, in 1996, the Pixiebob was advanced to New Breed Status. After that, it only took a year for Brewer to prove the true viability of her breed. In 1997, the Pixiebob was granted full Championship Status and has since gained recognition throughout the world.

The Appearance of the Pixiebob

This adorable cat is medium in size, weighing up to 17 pounds, with a muscular body. He weighs more than you might think because he is just that solid. The hind legs are just a little longer than the front, making him appear ready to spring at any moment, and the paws are large with long and thick toes.

While we're talking about toes, it is important to note that the Pixiebob is the only recognized breed that is allowed to be a polydactyl cat. He can have up to seven toes on each foot, though this is more likely to occur on the front feet. For this hefty cat, more toes is just another quirk and not a reason for disqualification.

The face looks almost like the face of a bobcat. The brow should be heavy and the eyes triangular in shape. The only acceptable eye colors are golden brown, gold, or gooseberry green. The tail is often kinked or knotted, but it should still be flexible and manoeuvrerable. Average length varies, but it should never be shorter than two inches and it should always be shorter than the tail of your average cat.

Ideally, the Pixiebob should be a brown spotted tabby ranging in color from tawny brown to a more reddish brown. Though the spots are easily seen, they should be muted and quite small. Heavy ticking is common, and this ticking may be darker in the winter and could even take on a silver tone.

As with breeds such as the Oriental and the Peterbald, the Pixiebob has more than one coat variety. Specifically, there are longhaired and shorthaired Pixiebobs. The shorthaired cats should have a wooly texture and is incredibly thick. This makes it stand up from the body and sometimes feels like the cat is wearing a cushioned coat.

The longhaired Pixiebob, however, has a soft and silky coat that can grow up to 2 inches long. Some cats even have tufts in their ears, making them look like little bobcats. If your Pixiebob has long hair, expect the facial hair to grow downward until it looks like your cat has sideburns. All in all, a very interesting looking cat.

Long hair or short, the Pixiebob is easy enough to groom. A weekly brushing should be enough to keep the coat gleaming and to remove loose hair so your cat doesn't end up with endless hairballs.

The Personality of the Pixiebob

Active and social, the Pixiebob is really more like a dog than a cat. He is loyal and forms and incredible bond with his family. He is great with children and other pets and hates being alone. Highly trainable, the Pixiebob can be taught to walk on a leash and will engage in a rousing game of fetch if the mood allows.

Expect your Pixiebob to talk. A lot. You'll hear chirps, meows, yips, and even a growl once in a while. The growl is not aggressive in any way, but rather yet another one of the varied sounds the Pixiebob is capable of.

If you're looking for a soft cat with boundless energy who will follow you like a little puppy, the Pixiebob might be for you.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Cat Breeds: Peterbald

If you cross a Donskoy with an Oriental Shorthair, as was done in 1993, you will get what is now know as a Peterbald. A brown tabby Donskoy male was bred to a tortoiseshell Oriental Shorthair female in St. Petersburg. The resulting offspring would eventually become the Peterbald. To keep the breed healthy, cross breeding with Donskoy, Siamese, and Oriental Shorthair cats became common, at least at first.

With the elegance of three Siamese and the Oriental Shorthair and the baldness of the Donskoy, the Peterbald couldn't help but attract cat fanciers from around the world. In 1997 this unique breed was accepted into the new breed program established by TICA (The International Cat Association) and in 2005 it was granted championship status. Today, it competes as any other breed.

The Appearance of the Peterbald

If you took an Oriental Shorthair and shaved him completely, you'd have something that sort of resembles the Peterbald cat. They are long, graceful, and dainty with whip-like tails and slender necks. They are also bald in a cute sort of way. As opposed to the Creepy, I've just been shaved by a psychopath, sort of way.

But they're not all totally bald. They have different types of Peterbalds out there. First are the ultra bald cats. These guys are born with no hair and they never get any hair. Bald cat. Really bald cat. No hair here. No whiskers. No eyebrows. Bald. They feel warm and almost sticky to the touch.

Next is the flock or chamois cat. These Peterbalds appear hairless but aren't. Not really, though they are 90% hairless. They have a smoothness to them and are not at all sticky. Look for a down-like hair on the extremities in this coat type. Flocked cats also have whiskers and eyebrows, those these will be kinked, curled, or broken entirely.

Velour Peterbalds are 70% hairless. They can have hair, but that hair should never be more than a single millimeter in length. The coat may be sparse, leaving the skin clearly visible, or it may be dense, giving the cat a sleek and shiny look. Sometimes velour cats mature to be flocked cats.

Brush Peterbald cats have wavy hair, sometimes even curly hair, that is quite wires in texture. Hair can be 5 mm long, bit keep in mind that kittens with a brush coat may mature to an ultra bald by the age of 2. Or they may not. The denser the coat, the less likely the cat is to shed out as he grows older.

The final coat type is straight, and these are the only Peterbalds that always lack the bald gene. A straight-coated Peterbald will always be a straight-coated Peterbald. Whiskers will be normal and the hair will lie close to the body.

All Peterbalds, regardless of cost type, need special skin care. Regular bathing to remove dirt and grease and a buff with a chamois cloth once a week is usually sufficient.

These cats need sunblock in summer and a sweater in the winter. Other than all that, they're pretty normal cats.

The Personality of the Peterbald

Highly intelligent and quite affectionate, the Peterbald will investigate anything and play until you run mad. They are active and independent, so they are okay left alone for a few hours, but they also love a rousing game of fetch, so be prepared for your feline friend to engage you at a moment's notice.

These inquisitive cats do well with children and other animals as long as they are given an escape route. They probably won't need it, but if they do jump on top of a bookcase to get away from your dog, leave them be until they come down on their own.

If you're looking for a unique cat who will play in the evenings but not destroy the house when you to to work for a few hours, the Peterbald might be for you.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Cat Breeds: Persian

The beautiful Persian has been around for centuries, which is probably why we know so little about its history. We may not know where exactly they came from, but we do know they were present in the very first cat shows in Britain. These Persians has round heads, short faces, and a cobby body. By the later 1800s, however, breeders and cat fanciers started seeking cats with rounder heads, shorter faces, bigger eyes, and cobbier bodies. This led to an even more defined breed standards as the years passed.

By the 1900s, the Persian was being imported into the United States and was increasing in popularity worldwide. At first blue and silver were the colors of choice. Today, all colors are seen and sought after in this luxurious breed.

The Appearance of the Persian

Persians are medium to large in size with a muscular body. Legs should be short and the body should be quite cobby. The head of a Persian should be very round, kind of like a tennis ball, and the eyes should be large and typically copper in color.

Though the Persian has many unique qualities, it's really the coat that makes this breed stand out. The perfect Persian has a coat which flows over the body and reaches the floor. The neck should have a heavy ruff that surrounds the head and the tail should have a plume that's thick and flowing.

There are two coat variations. One is soft and even cotton-like in texture and comes in diluted colors such as blue and cream. This coat mats easily and generally requires daily brushing.

The silky coat is found on cats with more dominant colors such as black and red. This coat still requires maintenance, probably three times a week, but it doesn't mat quite the way the cotton coat does.

Either coat type benefits from routine bathing, so get your kitten used to this from a young age. You'll also have to wipe you cat's eyes with a soft cotton ball to remove anything that might irritate kitty's sensitive eyes.

The Personality of the Persian

Persians are quiet, gentle creatures that prefer quiet, gentle households. While they can tolerate children, they don't like roughness or loud noises. You'll have to teach your children to be quiet and gentle around kitty. This is very important for your cat's peace of mind.

These cats aren't exactly active. They'll play a little, if course, but they're really experts at lounging around in the sun all day. They don't talk a lot, but when they do their voices are sweet and almost musical. All in all, they're lovely little felines.

If you're looking for a companion who will sit quietly while you read, work, or watch TV, and who is good at staying home alone, the Persian might be for you.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Cat Breeds: Oriental Shorthair and Oriental Longhair

Like many other breeds, the modern Oriental cats originated in the decade following World War II (WWII). During the war, the number of available breeding cats in England had been drastically reduced. To create new breeds, and to reestablish old ones, breeders were forced to get creative.

In the case of Oriental cats, Siamese cats  were crossed with  Russian Blues, Abyssinians, and British Shorthairs. The resulting offspring looked a little like Siamese, but they were not pointed like Siamese. When breeders crossed these cats back to Siamese, within just a couple generations they had kittens that looked exactly like Siamese cats except for the lack of points.

When the occasional pointed kitten was produced, due to the recessive nature of the pointed gene, they were used to strengthen the Siamese gene pool. Non-pointed kittens were used in the Oriental breeding program.

At the beginning, each color produced was given its own name. Chocolate cats were Havanas, whites were Foreign Whites, tabby cats were Oriental Spotted Tabbies, and so on. When it became apparent that there were too many colors, and that those colors didn't always breed true (with some exceptions), they were lumped into two distinct groups. Longhaired cats became the Oriental Longhair and shorthaired cats became the Oriental Shorthair.

The Appearance of the Oriental Cats

Except for coat length, the longhaired and shorthaired versions are completely identical. They are both slender, graceful, and elegant. They're not heavily built, but they are long and tall. The bone structure is fine and delicate, giving the cat a sleek appearance.

Oriental cats should be neither fat nor bony, but rather muscular and firm. The neck should be long and solid and the head should have a very straight profile when viewed from the side. The front view of the head should be triangular.

Ears should be large and wide, eyes are set at an angle and are almond-shaped. Eyes can be of any color, but green is preferred by breeders and gains more points in competitions.

These cats should be brushed once a week. The shorthaired variety could benefit from a buffing with a chamois cloth.

The Personality of the Oriental Cats

Some cats are quiet, reserved, and anti-social. Some are too social for their own good. The Oriental cats are definitely the latter. They are social, intelligent, and active. Because of their highly social nature, they don't really do well on their own. If you're away from home for hours a day, consider getting two cats so they can keep each other company.

Most Oriental cats bond closely to one person in the family and will ignore the rest of the household. They are true lap cats and are likely to fall asleep purring if you stay put long enough.

In addition to loving their people, these cats also chat and interact on a daily basis. They love to play and can turn almost anything into a toy. No piece of paper or paper clip is safe from their budding curiosity. They'll also play with things you'd rather they didn't touch, so put those knickknacks away.

If you're looking for a social cat to keep you company, and you don't mind having a cat play under your feet, then the Oriental Shorthair or Oriental Longhair might be for you.