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.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Cat Breeds: Ojos Azules

Some breeds are stuck somewhere between being a hybrid and being a recognized breed. Such is the case with the Ojos Azules. Fist discovered in New Mexico in the 1980s, this odd-looking breed has bright blue eyes which are the product of a genetic mutation.

Most breeds with blue eyes are either white or have point coloration. The Ojos Azules, on the other hand, can be found with any coat color and pattern. So you can have a tabby with blue eyes, a grey cat with blue eyes, or even a rare and striking black cat with blue eyes. The possibilities are practically endless.

Both the shorthaired and the longhaired version of this cute little cat were only accepted by The International Cat Association (TICA) in 1991. Breeding was temporarily suspended when it was thought that the gene that gave the cat its blue eyes might cause skull defects, but it soon became apparent that the gene is harmless. Still, there are few breeders working with them today. Many of the breeders who where working with them prior to the suspension didn't pick it up again after breeding resumed.

The breed standard for the Ojos Azules is still being developed, so what they will be is hard to say. The blue eyes are important, and the cat should be medium in size with a head that is moderately triangular. White is unlikely to be an acceptable color in competition, but all other colors are allowed. The face should be sweet and pretty. Other traits are still being decided upon.

This cat is not easy to find right now. But if you want a cat with bright blue eyes and a sweet disposition, the Ojos Azules might be the cat for you.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Cat Breeds: Ocicat

The Ocicat was created entirely by accident in 1964 when Virginia Daly was trying to develop a Siamese with points the same color as the Abyssinian. Her efforts didn't seem to be going anywhere when she bread a seal point Siamese to a ready Abyssinian and the kittens all looked surprisingly Abyssinian. Not discouraged, she kept a small female from this litter and later bread this cat to a chocolate point Siamese.

The results were rather surprising. This breeding had produced some Siamese kittens with Abyssinian. Determined to reproduce your success, she repeated the same breeding and was rewarded with a beautiful ivory continue with gold on spots. She names this kitten Tonga. Because Tonge looks like an ocelot, he was called Ocicat. The name stuck and was eventually used to describe this new breed. But because a new breed was not Virginia's goal, Tonga was neutered and adopted into a new home.

This might have been the end of the story if Virginia hadn't mentioned Tonga in the letter to geneticist Dr. Clyde Keeler. Keeler, with his interest in feline genetics, expressed an interest in producing a cat that resembled the extinct Egyptian Spotted Fishing Cat. He would have liked to have bread Tonga back to his mother, but since this was not possible Virginia repeated the initial breeding and was rewarded with the Tony spotted male. This kitten was left intact so he could be used in a new breeding program. American Shorthairs were used to provide genetic diversity.

Things might have gone well from this point on if life hadn't intervened. Virginia was forced to suspend her breeding program so personal reasons until the early 1980s. At this point, other breeders became interested in these spotted cats and new lines were developed with surprising speed. The International Cat Association (TICA) granted the Ocicat championship status in August of 1986.

The Appearance of the Ocicat

The Ocicat is one of the larger cat breeds and has a sleek body with a slightly foreign appearance. Weighing up to 14 pounds, these cats are well muscled and strong. The eyes should be almond shaped and fairly large, giving the face and exotic appearance. With its quick movements and lean body, this cat is athletic and graceful.

The coat of the Ocicat should be short and how to be traditional spotted and striped pattern. Though there is only one pattern, there are a variety of colours. These include blue, brown, chocolate, cinnamon, fawn, and lilac. Black spots are most common, but silver varieties also exist. Either way, the Ocicat looks like a small jungle cat.

Spots should be thumb-shaped and arranged over the body so they resemble a bull's eye. Individual hairs have several bands of ticking, contributing to the beauty of the overall pattern. Sometimes kittens are born in the classic tabby pattern, but these kittens are not eligible for competition and are not typically bred.

The short coat is fairly low maintenance. You can remove loose hair with a soft rubber brush every week or two. If you want to encourage a natural luster, consider buffing your cat with a chamois cloth.

The Personality of the Ocicat

An inherently playful cat, the Ocicat is active, curious, and exciting. They love to play and will happily engage in many games. This breed is certainly smart enough to learn quickly and will follow you around waiting for the next game. They love children and other pets, so they fit well into most households.

There are few breeds that bond to their families the way the Ocicat does. Because of thus, you really shouldn't leave an Ocicat alone for long periods of time. If your cat does need to be left alone, consider getting a second Ocicat. They will keep each other company.

If you're looking for a cat that looks and acts like an affectionate jaguar, the Ocicat may be for you. Just make sure he gets plenty of exercise and has a playmate and a few toys and he'll be the happiest little cat on the block.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Cat Breeds: Norwegian Forest Cat

Also known as the Skogkatt or Norsk, the Norwegian Forest Cat is a breed straight out of Viking legend. It is, in fact, mentioned in many Viking myths and is said to have traveled with the Vikings on their ships. Because of the mythology surrounding the Norwegian Forest Cat, we'll probably never know how old this breed really is. We do know they've been around a while and they have adapted to their climate and surroundings quite well. But we don't know how old the breed is.

In the early part of the 20th century, the Norwegian Forest Cat's numbers had declined enough that they were actually in danger of extinction. Several breeding programs were started to try and save the breed, but World War II (WWII) got in the way, causing almost all of the programs to be put on hold.

It wasn't until the 1970s that things got back on track again, particularly in Norway. This elegant breed was declared the official cat of Norway and breeding programs were established to focus just on revitalizing the breed and saving it from extinction. The first breeding pair was imported into the United States in 1979, but the breed wasn't given Championship status with The International Cat Association (TICA) until 1984. Since then, it has slowly gained in popularity. It is still not the most common cat, but at least it no longer faces extinction.

The Appearance of the Norwegian Forest Cat

Though not necessarily as large as the Maine Coon Cat, the Norwegian Forest Cat is still on the large end of domestic cats. He's muscular and strong, but he's also agile and relatively light for his size.

The ears are very large, but they're also quite wide, so wide they resemble an equilateral triangle. Eyes are also large, and are almond shaped, giving him a sweet and expressive face. Eyes often vary in color, but they should be clear and gleaming.

The coat of the Norwegian Forest Cat can come in any color and pattern. It's really the fullness and texture that are important for this breed. Though the outer coat is soft and fluffy, the undercoat should be dense enough to keep the cat warm in the depths of the Scandinavian winters. The coat should also be water resistant. In winter the coat should be long and flowing. In summer it should be shorter, but still water resistant. The tail should be long and flowing, just like the coat.

Though this breed definitely has long hair, the coat isn't as high maintenance as other longhaired cat breeds. You don't really have to groom these guys every day for their coats to maintain their beauty. Instead, a brushing once or twice a week to remove dead hair is generally enough.

The Personality of the Norwegian Forest Cat

A highly intelligent feline, the Norwegian Forest Cat is quite resourceful and is probably one of the most adaptable cats around. They are perfectly happy hunting mice in a country field, but they're just as suited to lazing about on the couch all day while you read a book. Even a cat who is confined to an apartment will find a variety of ways to entertain himself.

This cat really loves toys and games, especially if they involve hanging out with people. He'll run through cat tunnels, chase catnip-filled toy mice, and leap after feathers on sticks. In short, this breed is constant entertainment. He's also great with kids and other pets and will even play with older children if his mood right.

If you're looking for a mild-mannered cat who can cuddle up like a small dog, the Norwegian Forest Cat might be for you. Be prepared for his pranks, though, because this perky cat is always looking for a little bit of nonsense.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Cat Breeds: Nebelung

There are many ancient breeds of cats. The Nebelung is not one of them. It was, in fact, not even conceived of before the 1980s. The name 'Nebelung' is derived from the German word 'nebel' (meaning fog). It is also based on the medieval German saga Nibelungenlied, which is said to represent the cat's distinctive blue coat that is as silky and wispy as fog.

Initially developed by Cora Cobb, the first two registered Nebelungs were born in 1984 (Siegfried, a male) and 1985 (Brunhilde, a female). Siegfried's parents were unremarkable, as were Brunhilde's. Still, the two became the foundation of what would become the Nebelung cat breed and had their first litter in 1986. In 1987 Cobb applied to The International Cat Association (TICA) for New Breed status.

Because the coat color is so important for this breed, the Russian Blue was officially designated as an allowed outcross. This encourages the development of the gene pool without compromising the stunning color of the breed. After a decade of breeding, the Nebelung was granted Championship status in 1997.

The Appearance of the Nebelung

The Nebelung is on the larger end of the medium-sized cats. He should be a muscular cat with a long tail and ears that are large but still in proportion to the head. The eyes should be wide set and open. They should be green in color, though a yellowish-green is also acceptable. Gold is too yellow a color the a Nebelung's eyes.

The coat is really what sets these cats apart. Like the Russian Blue, the coat is a silvery blue color. Unlike the Russian Blue, the Nebelung has long hair instead of the shorter hairs so characteristic of the Russian Blue. The hair is silky but quite dense, requiring a good grooming at least twice a week to remove any lose hair and prevent matting. These cats don't like matts at all, so do groom your feline companion well.

The Personality of the Nebelung

This cat breed is on the more sensitive end of the scale when it comes to temperament, so take care when introducing him to new people, children, and other pets. A kitten will need ample time to adjust to a new environment, an adult cat even more so, so be patient with him.

Once your new friends does adjust, however, you will have a loyal and loving companion. They are very people-oriented and need to be around people familiar to them to feel comfortable. This is not a cat you should lock in the back room while you make dinner. He would prefer to sit at your feet instead.

If you want a quiet cat who will shower you with kisses and cuddles, the Nebelung might be for you. They are affectionate cats to those they love, but you will have to be patient with his sensitive breed.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Cat Breeds: Munchkin

The Munchkin is a relatively new breed, having its roots in the early 1980s, but the mutation that resulted in the shorter legs actually appeared sporadically throughout the 20th century. The first reported mutation occurred in Britain in 1944. Dr. HE Williams-Jones wrote an entire paper on four generations of short-legged cats. This line, which may very well have gone on to found an entire breed, was tragically lost during WWII (World War II).

Fortunately for the cat fancy world, the short-legged trait appeared again. Several times, in fact. It could be found in Stalingrad in the 1950s, New England in the 1970s, and Louisiana in the 1980s. It was in 1983 that Sandra Hockenedel found a pregnant cat who happened to have the shortened legs the Munchkin would become famous for. This cat, who she named Blackberry, would become the foundation for the modern Munchkin breed, though several outcrosses would be necessary to establish a diverse gene pool.

After a decade of careful outcrossing, the Munchkin was recognized by TICA (The International Cat Association) in 1994, but only in the New Breed development program. This program ensures that the breed is stable and healthy before championship status is granted. It was during this time that the gene which results in the shorter legs is actually dominant, much like the gene in the Corgi and Dachshund dog breeds. This helped with the breed's stability and in 2003 TICA granted the Munchkin cat breed championship status.

The Appearance of the Munchkin

The Munchkin cat looks very much like most other cat breeds, including the American Shorthair, except for the length of the legs. The mutation that makes these cats so unique shortens the leg bones, but does not affect any other part of the cat. So unlike the Corgi or Dachshund, the Munchkin doesn't have the back problems you might expect to see in a breed with such tiny legs. In fact, this breed has few health problems at all.

A medium-sized cat, the Munchkin typically weighs in between 5 and 9 pounds. Because of the early outcrossings, they can be of any color or pattern, so there is great variety in the Munchkin breed. They come in both longhaired and shorthaired varieties, the only difference between the two being the length of the coat. Shorthaired cats have an all-weather coat that is silky to the touch and requires only light grooming. Longhaired cats have an all-weather coat that is silky to the touch and requires more intensive grooming. Other than this slight difference, they are the same cat.

The Personality of the Munchkin

You might think this cat looks like a lot of fun, and you'd be right. They love to run and jump (though they can't jump as high as cats with longer legs) and will happily dash after whatever toy has been tossed for them. The Munchkin has a lot of energy and rarely slows down unless dinner is on the table.

The Munchkin has a sunny disposition and gets along with everyone from small children to strange dogs. They like everyone and want everyone's attention. A highly curious cat, this breed can sometimes get themselves into trouble with all their exploring, but you'll never want for excitement with this little bundle of energy around.

If you're looking for a cat that is unique and has a great personality, the Munchkin might be for you. They are happy and fun companions for the young and old alike. As long as you don't might a short little cat dashing around your living room at all hours.