Monday, April 25, 2011

Hybrid Cats: Kinkalow

There are many hybrid cats in the world. Some of these will remain hybrids, others may eventually be recognized as a breed in their own right. The Kinkalow, though a deliberate outcross, falls into the latter category. Recognized as an experimental breed by the International Cat Association (TICA), this rare and exotic breed is the result of crossing the Munchkin and the American Curl.

The breed was originally established by Terri Harris in the mid-1990s. Harris decided to see what would come of breeding an American Curl to a Munchkin cat, and the result was quite endearing. The Kinkalow has the shortened legs of the Munchkin. The front legs are particularly shortened. The gene for the shortened, or dwarf, legs came about as a spontaneous mutation. As a result, this gene is not wholly dominate. It is therefore possible to have kittens born into the litter that have long legs. These kittens are generally not used in breeding programs, as the may not carry the dwarf gene.

In addition to the having the shortened legs of the Munchkin, the Kinkalow also inherited the body type of its dwarf parent. There are shorter in the body than the American Curl and quite compact and stocky. These cats also seem to be quite heavy for their size. They are so short in the body that sometimes their long tails are actually longer than their body.

From the American Curl the Kinkalow inherited the gene for curled ears. Like the American Curl, Kinkalow kittens are born with straight ears. However, within the first two weeks of birth, most ears will start to curl. And just like the American Curl, some kittens never do get the curled ears. Since the gene for curled is exhibits incomplete dominate expression, it is impossible to guarantee that all kittens of a given litter will have curled ears. Cats without curled ears can still be useful in breeding programs, as they do carry the gene. However, they would not be eligible for competition, if accepted by TICA as a breed in their own right.

The Kinkalow seems to inherit one more thing from its American Curl parent — exceptionally good health. The American Curl is remarkably free from genetic defects and diseases that often plague purebred cats. The Kinkalow is similarly healthy. Reports of unhealthy or deformed cats are generally the result of unscrupulous breeders. All breeds are subject to their breeders, and though healthy should always be the priority, unethical breeders will sometimes put money over health.

It should be noted, however, that the Kinkalow is a fairly new breed, and is still in the experimental stages. It is really impossible to have complete information regarding health or lifespan until the breed is more established and a true standard can be developed.

The Kinkalow has silky soft fur and are very sleek. They can be found in a variety of colors and patterns, including black, cream, orange, grey, tabby, tortie, and calico. These cats are also very playful and almost dog-like in their desire to please. They are quite intelligent and can be taught to fetch, sit, and come on command.

A unique addition to any household, the Kinkalow is well on its way to being recognized as a legitimate breed. In addition to being registered as an experimental breed by TICA, the Kinkalow is also recognized by the Dwarf Cat Association (TDCA).

Hybrid Cats: The Arctic Curl

Hybrid cats, sometimes called designer cats, are quickly rising in popularity. One of the most beautiful of the designer cats is the Arctic Curl. This hybrid cat is a unique cross between the Selkirk Rex and the Turkish Angora. In fact, it is very similar to the Turkish Angora in both appearance and personality. It does, however, incorporate much of the Selkirk Rex as well.

The Arctic Curl is a new breed of cat that some breeders are currently attempting to establish. Unlike the American Curl, the ‘curl’ in Arctic Curl does not refer to the ears in any way. Instead, ‘curl’ is used to indicate the state of the coat. The Arctic Curl has curly hair, much like the Selkirk Rex. Often described as a Turkish Angora with slightly rounded eyes and curly fur, the Arctic Curl has hair that is generally the length of the Turkish Angora. However, because this hair is curly, it appears to be shorter, except for the tail plume.

Though these cats come in a variety of colors, the original breeder of the Artic Curl, Penny Odell, is predominately interested in white cats with blue eyes. This is the reason for the addition of the word ‘arctic’ into the name. She is also attempting to control the shape of the ears. As such, she is considering outcrossing to the Balinese in an attempt to achieve the desired look.

The Arctic Curl seems to have incorporated the personality of both the Selkirk Rex and the Turkish Angora. Boasting a budding personality, this hybrid cat can be very playful at times. Other times, they definitely need their own space, often retreating to a dark corner of the house for a few minutes of peace and quiet. This is very much like the Selkirk Rex, so this occasional need for solitude should be respected.

This is a new breed, and so is quite rare. At this time, the Arctic Curl is not recognized by any association as a purebred cat. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing. It takes time to establish a new breed, time for a consistent standard to be developed. As a hybrid, this breed is not subject to the inbreeding that often occurs with purebred cats. In addition, the Arctic Curl appears to be free of any known genetic defects. However, because the breed is very young, it is impossible to truly evaluate health or lifespan.

Though this breed is in its infancy, it is possible that the Arctic Curl will eventually be a recognized breed. This will mean that a breed standard will have to be introduced. This is no small task, and will require the cooperation of multiple breeders and associations.

Cat Breed Facts: Maine Coon Cat

The Maine Coon Cat is a naturally occurring breed whose origins have become a part of American legend. Some still believe that the Maine Coon Cat is the result of a mating between raccoons and cats local to New England. There are those who think that the Maine Coon is a descendant of the cats that had been sent to the United States from France by Marie Antoinette. Various cat fanciers also subscribe to the theory that a sea named Coon introduced both Persian and Angora cats to New England and these cats bred freely with existing shorthairs.

The raccoon legend notwithstanding, the true origins of the Maine Coon Cat are likely a combination of many theories. It is certain that early settlers brought the ancestors of the Maine Coon to America. These cats bred freely, creating a breed that is strong, intelligent, and prolific. It is unlikely that these cats were more popular in Maine than anywhere else. Instead, it is reasonable to assume that the breed was first promoted in Maine, hence the addition of ‘Maine’ to ‘Coon Cat.’

The Development of the Maine Coon Cat

Maine Coon Cats began appearing in official shows as early as the 1860s. They were very popular and frequent winners. In fact, in the 1985 Madison Square Garden Show, a brown tabby Maine Coon Cat owned by E.N. Baker was accorded the honor of best cat. However, as cat shows became more sophisticated and imported cats gained popularity, the Maine Coon started to fade from shows, and eventually disappeared altogether.

Despite this, the Maine Coon Cat continued to be a popular outcross for Persians in North America. In the early days of cat fancy in the United States, registries accepted cats of unknown parentage as long as they conformed to the standard of the breed. Since Persians were, at that time, very similar in type to the Maine Coon, any solid color Coon Cat was quite acceptable in Persian breeding programs. The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) allows longhairs to be simply Persian or Angora ‘type’ and not necessarily of a particular breed.

During the years when the Maine Coon Cat was in disfavor, proponents of the breed attempted to regain recognition for the breed. These attempts were thwarted not only by the snobbery of other breeders, but by the inability of the Coon Cat fanciers to develop a consistent Breed Standard. There were also those who insisted that Maine Coon Cats did not possess desirable conformation and that the many colors of the breed could not be controlled through selective breeding. In the minds of many, this meant that a true Standard could not be developed.

Throughout the decades, the idea that the Maine Coon Cat was simply a longhaired version of the American Shorthair was hotly debated. Eventually, it was determined that Maine Coon Cats had to be their own breed. They were larger and longer than the American Shorthair, but had different a different texture and coat quality than the Persian or Angora. In short, there were enough unique qualities to the Maine Coon Cat to recognize it as a distinct and beautiful breed.

Some Breed Standards for the Maine Coon Cat

The Standards for the Maine Coon Cat, as with many other breeds, are quite strict. It is easy to have a cat that is penalized or even disqualified, so those interested in choosing a show or breeding kitten should do so with care.

General: The Maine Coon Cat was once a working cat, and so is solid, rugged, and able to endure a harsh climate. They have a smooth and shaggy coat, an amiable disposition, and are incredibly adaptable.

Head: Medium in length and width, the head of the Maine Coon Cat generally has a squareness to the muzzle. Cheekbones should be high, the chin should be firm, and the nose should be medium long but slightly concave when viewed in profile.

Ears: The ears of the Coon Cat are large and wide at the base, but taper to appear pointed. The tufted tips of the ears make them seem larger than they are.

Eyes: Eyes should be large and expressive. Acceptable eye colors include shades of green or gold, though white cats may have blue eyes or even be odd-eyed. CFA accepts copper-colored eyes, though most associations do not accept copper as an acceptable color.

Body: A Maine Coon Cat should be muscular and broad chested. They are heavy and long, but should be proportioned to appear well balanced. As these cats tend to mature slowly, allowances must be made for younger cats, who may appear ungainly until reaching adulthood.

Tail: The tail must be long and wide at the base, but tapering. The fur should be long and flow off the tail, creating a beautiful plume.

Coat: To conform to the Breed Standard, Maine Coons must have a heavy and shaggy coat, shorter on the shoulders but longer on the stomach and britches. A frontal ruff is desirable but not necessary. The coat itself should be silky in texture and fall smoothly. Some allowances should be made for seasonal variations.

Penalties: Any cat with a coat that is short or overall even will be assessed a penalty.

Disqualifications: There are several reasons a Maine Coon Cat might be disqualified. These include: delicate bone structure, undershot chin, crossed eyes, kinked tail, buttons, lockets, or spots.

The Maine Coon Cat is a popular breed available in a variety of colors, including white, black, red, cream, or many variations of tabby or particolor patterns. Since they are a naturally occurring breed, they are generally free of genetic defects, though inbreeding has become a problem in some lines. They are sweet, intelligent, and unique, making them the perfect companion for most cat lovers.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

How to Register a Purebred Cat

Registering purebred cats can be a bit of a hassle for some people. However, anyone who wants to show or breed their purebred cat must register their cat or kitten in order to be eligible. There are several associations and federations that exist for the purpose of registering cats. For the most part, to register a cat with a particular organization, the cat must either have a parent registered in that organization or be registered with another organization.

The Cat Fanciers’ Association

The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) is the world’s largest registry of pedigreed cats. To register a kitten with this association, you must possess either a blue slip or a yellow slip from the breeder. Make sure you ask your breeder to show evidence of this slip before paying in full for your kitten. If you have a blue slip, you will have to pay the registration fee after completing the required information. If you have a yellow slip, your registration was prepaid by the breeder. Simply complete the slip with any missing information and submit it to the CFA.

The International Cat Association

The only truly international organization for the registration of purebred cats, the International Cat Association (TICA) is also the world’s largest registry of household pets and kittens. Though any cat can be registered with TICA as a household pet, purebred cats still have to show pedigree to be registered as a purebred. If one or both of the parents of your cat were registered with TICA, the breeder should have registered the litter at the time of birth. Ask for evidence of this so that you may register your cat individually, if your breeder does not do this for you.

The Cat Fanciers’ Federation

The Cat Fanciers’ Federation (CFF) is one of the oldest cat registries in the United States. Like most other associations and federations, the breeder from whom you purchase your cat will generally register the litter at the time of birth. You can then register your cat individually, if you possess the required information. This information should be supplied by the breeder. Simply follow the directions on the papers you are given and registering your cat with the CFF becomes a simple process.

The North American Purebred Cat Registry

One of the newer registries in the United States, the North American Purebred Cat Registry (NAPCR) offers low fees and excellent service. Numerous purebred cats are registered with NAPCR every year. However, because it is so new, some of the other associations will not recognize a cat registered with NAPCR. This is slowly changing. One of the benefits of registering your cat with NAPCR is that they accept all breeds of purebred cat. Some other associations are very limited in regards to how many breeds they recognize.

The process of registering your cat is fairly simple, provided you are in possession of the required information. In most cases, you simply fill out the form the breeder gave you. Sometimes you’ll have to obtain some of the forms yourself. In the best cases, your breeder will handle the registration of your cat for you, and you’ll have to do little more than mail in a piece of paper with your signature. In any case, if you have questions about registering your cat with a particular association, you should consult your breeder or the association in question.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Most Common Cat Breeds in the United States

Cats are by far the most common pet in the United States. This has been true for many years. They make great companions, are fairly independent, and almost obsessively clean. Purebred cats are quite popular, both as show cats and pets. With so many breeds, it can be difficult to choose. Taking a closer look at the most popular breeds in the United States is one place to start.

Though it is impossible to judge the true number of pet cats in the United States, some generalities can be made through analyzing the cats registered in the many associations and federations around the world. The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) is the largest registry of purebred cats in the world, currently listing forty-one pedigreed breeds, one provisional breed, and one miscellaneous breed. Though not all owners register their cats, it is still quite easy to see which breeds are the most popular.

The Persian and Its Characteristics

Topping the list in most years is the elegant Persian. This cat has long hair and a stubby nose that appears to have been pushed in. They are sometimes called the ‘Pug of the cat world.’ This breed is gentle and quiet, and is usually quite lazy. They prefer lounging in the sun all day to having to romp and play with children, so they are more suited to adults, and are especially appropriate for the elderly.

The Exotic and Its Characteristics

Rising in popularity in recent years is the stubby Exotic. It seems that many people have never heard of this breed, and yet as recently as 2009, they were the second most popular breed of cat in the United States. These odd-looking creatures were bred to meet the exact standards of the Persian, with one very notable exception — the length of the coat. This cat could be a shorthaired version of the Persian. This unique breed allows for the enjoyment that can be achieved through living with a Persian, but without the constant grooming.

The Maine Coon Cat and Its Characteristics

The strikingly-beautiful Maine Coon Cat falls in at number three on the list of most popular breeds in the United States. This breed is the largest of the domestic cats and is quite sturdy. Known for a loving disposition and great intelligence, Maine Coon Cats are particularly good with dogs, small children, and the elderly, making them a much sought-after pet.

The Siamese and Its Characteristics

This cat has fascinated and enchanted people all around the world since first being exported from Siam (now known as Thailand) in the late 1800s. They are sleek, beautiful, elegant, and striking in color. Their blue eyes can hold anyone enraptured, and their constant vocalizations are the subject of much discussion in the world of cat fancy. The Siamese is almost always in the top five on any list detailing the most popular cats.

The Ragdoll and Its Characteristics

Rounding out the top five on the list of most popular cats in the United States is the magnificent Ragdoll. These large, laid-back cats have stunning blue eyes and striking colors. With silky hair, a budding personality, and an avid interest in humans, these cats maintain their position as one of the most popular breeds, both in Europe and North America. They are naturally gentle and their coats require minimum upkeep.

This list changes a little from year to year. However, in general, the top five merely switch places a little. With the exception of the Exotic, the breeds on the list have been present on the list for many years, and their popularity will likely continue.