Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cat Breed Facts: Abyssinian

Abyssinians are one of the most majestic and popular cats today. From their stunning coat pattern to their splendid conformation, these cats are truly a beauty to behold. Their balanced temperaments make them wonderful companions, and their regal bearing makes them seem to know far more than they should.

The Development of the Abyssinian

The ancient origins of the Abyssinian are composed of many alternating theories. Some claim that the Abyssinian is descended from cats worshipped by the Egyptians over four thousand years ago. Others are sure that the Abyssinian first originated in the deep jungles of North Africa, and that they were later brought to England by sailors in the late 1860s. Still others are convinced that the Abyssinian began as nothing more than ticked tabbies in the fields of Great Britain. Regardless of its ancient origins, the Abyssinian has developed into a very distinctive breed.

The first Abyssinian to arrive in the United States belonged to a woman named Jan Cathcart of New Jersey, and these cats were probably silver in color. Though these cats were shown in Boston in 1909, the first recorded Abyssinian litter was not born in the United States until 1935.

After World War II, the development of the Abyssinian progressed rapidly due mostly to increased interest in the breed. At first, Abyssinians were difficult and uncooperative at shows, as they did not adjust well to being handled by strangers. Since those days, the temperament of the Abyssinian has greatly improved, largely due to selective breeding.

Colors range for the Abyssinian. Accepted colors include blue, fawn, red, ruddy, lilac, and cream. All Abyssinians have distinct and even ticking, with dark-colored bands contrasting with light-colored bands.

Some Breed Standards for the Abyssinian

The standards for the Abyssinian in shows are fairly strict, as with most other breeds. It is quite easy to have a cat that is penalized or even disqualified, so those picking a show or breeding kitten should do so with care.

General: Abyssinians should be colorful with a ticked coat, medium in size and very regal. The body should be lithe, muscular, and hard, and the cat should show a lively interest in everything. Temperaments should be well-balanced and gentle.

Head: The head should be a slightly rounded wedge with no flat planes. The brow, cheek, and profile lines should all show a gentle contour. The forehead should be of a good size, with some width between the ears.

Ears: The Abyssinian has large, alert, and moderately pointed ears. The hair on the ears should be very short and close lying.

Eyes: Eyes should be almond shaped, large, expressive, and brilliant. They should be neither round nor oriental, and should be either gold or green in color.

Body: Abyssinians are medium-long and very lithe. They are extremely graceful, and have a muscular body that is devoid of coarseness. Proportion and balance are more important that size. The legs should be slim and fine boned. When standing, an Abyssinian should appear to be on its tiptoes. The front foot should have five toes, the back foot should have four.

Tail: The tails of all Abyssinians should be thick at the base, fairly long, and gently tapering.

Coat: The coat should be very dense and resilient to the touch with a high lustrous sheen, but it should also be soft, silky, and fine. Though only medium in length, the coat should be long enough to accommodate two or three dark bands of ticking on each and every hair.

Penalties: Any of the following may result in a penalty for any Abyssinian: long, narrow head; rings on the tail; gray tones in the coat; barring on legs; off-color pads.

Disqualifications: An Abyssinian will be disqualified immediately if there is any white anywhere on the body other than nostrils, chin, and upper throat area. Also, kinked or abnormal tails, gray undercoat, or the incorrect number of toes will result in disqualification.

The Abyssinian is a wonderful and elegant companion for many cat-lovers. They’re regal appearance and upbeat attitude make them a delightful addition to countless households.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cat Breed Facts: Oriental Shorthair

The Oriental Shorthair is a breed of cat quite unlike any other. These cats are interesting and distinctive in appearance. They have vibrant personalities, and each and every cat of this breed can be recognized as an individual.

The Development of the Oriental Shorthair

The very beginnings of this breed occurred in England in 1950. A woman named Baroness von Ullman decided to attempt to create a new breed of cat, one with short born hair, green eyes, and the body of a Siamese. In 1954, she presented two kittens, not bred by her, which matched her original design. These kittens were determined by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy in England to be a new breed called the Chestnut Brown Foreign.

Four years later, a woman named Patricia Turner decided to create a breed with the same look, but pure white with blue eyes. These kittens, once produced, were called Foreign Whites, as in England, individual colors were often registered as separate breeds. Years later, two Siamese breeders from the United States, Peter and Vicky Markstein, came upon these cats. They were so enamored with them that they decided to seek the acceptance of all Foreigns of all colors as a single breed, to be called the Oriental Shorthair in the United States.

The foundation of the Oriental Shorthair was the Siamese, which provided the body type, and the American Shorthair and Abyssinian, which provided the additional colors and their distribution. This new breed, the Oriental Shorthair, was strong, vigorous, and healthy. They had hard bodies and excellent muscle tone.

Some Breed Standards for the Oriental Shorthair

The standards for the Oriental Shorthair are fairly strict, as with most breeds. It can be easy to have a cat who is penalized or even disqualified in a show situation. If you’re seeking a kitten for show purposes, you’ll need to choose your kitten carefully.

General: Ideally, the Oriental Shorthair has long, tapering lines, and is lithe, but muscular. The eyes should be clear, and the cat should be in excellent physical condition.

Head: The head should have a good proportion to the body and be wedged-shaped. There should be no less than the width of an eye between the eyes. The skull should be flat, and the profile of the Oriental Shorthair should be a long, straight line from the top of the head to the tip of the nose. There should be no bulge over the eyes, and no dip in the nose.

Ears: The ears of this breed should be very large and pointed, and quite wide at the base.

Eyes: Medium-sized and shaped like almonds, the eyes should be slanted towards the nose. The eyes should be uncrossed and green in color. White Oriental Shorthairs may have either blue or green eyes.

Body: The body should be long with fine bones and firm muscles. This cat is slight and sleek. The hips must not be wider than the shoulders. The neck is long and slender. Paws should be dainty, small, and oval-shaped. The tail should be long, thin at the base, and tapered to a fine point.

Coat: The coat of an Oriental Shorthair should be short, fine textured, glossy, and lie very close to the body. These cats come in many colors, including paritcolors, shaded colors, smoke colors, solid colors, and tabby colors.

Penalties: Any cat who has crossed eyes or a visible or palpable protrusion of the cartilage at the end of the sternum will be assessed a penalty.

Disqualifications: Illness and poor health are one of the leading causes of disqualifications in Oriental Shorthairs. Other factors that lead judges to disqualify a particular cat might be: mouth breathing due to obstruction or poor occlusion; weak hind legs; incorrect number of toes; visible kinks anywhere one the body; emaciation.

Though some might see these cats as a little odd-looking, their sleek lines and dainty appearance makes them an interesting companion. Their sparkling personalities make them an ideal cat for those who like a feline with a sense of adventure.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cat Breed Facts: Egyptian Mau

The Egyptian Mau is one of the most unique and interesting of all cat breeds. Thought to be the cat pictured in ancient Egyptian artwork, they were once worshipped as gods. Today, they make wonderful companions to the right person.

The Development of the Egyptian Mau

The first Egyptian Maus brought into the United States arrived in late 1956. These cats were tall and elegant, but they each differed in color. One was a vivid silver with black spotting, necklaces, and bracelets, with eyes rimmed in black. The second was a bronze-colored cat. The third was ocher in color.

Through the selective breeding of these three cats, with a great deal of domestic crossing and inbreeding, the Egyptian Mau was established in the United States. The initial offspring were wild an unpredictable. However, with time and even more selective breeding, the Egyptian Mau became a more docile cat, one which is active, intelligent, and makes a great companion, though they do tend to be selective in choosing their friends, human and feline.

Colors range for the Egyptian Mau. Common colors include bronze, silver, smoke, and pewter. Silver seems to be the most popular color, though smoke-colored Egyptian Maus seem to be gaining in popularity.

Some Breed Standards for the Egyptian Mau

The standards for the Egyptian Mau are fairly strict, as with most other breeds. It is easy to have a cat who is penalized, or even disqualified. For those seeking a show cat, choose your kitten carefully.

General: Males should be larger than females. Each cat should be in perfect physical condition and have an alert appearance, being balanced physically and temperamentally. Egyptian Maus should be active, colorful cats, of a medium size with well-developed muscles. They are the only natural domesticated breed of spotted cat.

Head: The entire length of the nose should be even in width when viewed from the front. The head should be a slightly rounded wedge without any flat planes, medium in length, but not full cheeked. The profile of an Egyptian Mau should show a very gentle contour with a slight rise from the bridge of the nose to the forehead. The muzzle should be neither short nor pointed, and adult males may have jowls.

Ears: The ears of the Egyptian Mau may be tufted, and should be wide at the base, medium to large in size. The inner ear should be a delicate pink, almost transparent, with the hair short and close lying. Ears should be alert and moderately pointed, continuing the planes of the head.

Eyes: All Egyptian Maus over eighteen months of age should have gooseberry green eyes. Cats younger than this may have amber eyes. Eyes should be large and alert, almond shaped with a slight slant towards the ears. The skull apertures should be neither round nor oriental.

Body: While adult males may have muscular necks and shoulders, in general, Egyptian Maus should be medium-long and graceful, with well-developed muscles, but not overly so. The balance of the cat is more important than size. There should be a loose skin flap extending from the flank to the hind leg knee. Legs should be in proportion to the body, but hind legs should be proportionately longer, giving the appearance that the cat walks on tiptoes. Feel should be oval, and appear slight and dainty, with five does on the front feet and four on the back.

Tail: The tails of all Egyptian Maus should be medium-long, thick at the base, and have a slight taper.

Coat: The coat varies with the color, but in general should be medium in length with a lustrous sheen. Cats who are smoke-colored should have fine, silky hair. Silver and bronze cats should have coats that are more dense and resilient.

Penalties: Cats that have short or rounded heads will be penalized, but not disqualified. Other penalties will be assessed for: pointed muzzles; small, round, or oriental eyes; cobby or oriental body; short or whip tail; a lack of broken necklaces; or poor physical condition.

Disqualifications: Any cat who lacks spots or has blue eyes is immediately disqualified. Kinked or abnormal tails, or the incorrect number of toes also results in disqualification.

Egyptian Maus are interesting and beautiful to look at. They have a slightly exotic appearance, and have a personality to match. For the cat-lover, an Egyptian Mau might be the perfect companion.