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.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Cat Breeds: Turkish Angora

Through Turkish Angora is one of the most recognizable cat breeds out there today, but it hasn't always been this way. The earliest reference to these majestic cats can be found as far back as 16th century France, but they probably existed before that. Mention is made of the Angora in the late 1800s and the early 1900s, but then Persian breeders folded the Angora into its own breeding programs, meaning the Turkish Angora basically disappeared as a separate breed. For a long while very few people in the world of cat fancy even knew what a Turkish Angora was.

But in Turkey, that was not the case at all. Even while the rest of the world was ignoring or dismissing the Angora, Turkey considered the breed a national treasure and even established a breeding program for these cats at the Ankara Zoo. Though all colors were welcome, this program focused on white cats with blue eyes, gold eyes, or odd eyes. Records were meticulously kept and genetics were carefully observed and recorded. This program is the only reason the Turkish Angora exists today.

The zoo didn't allow the cats to be exported, however, causing a bit of a wrinkle for the breed. But then, in the 1950s, American servicemen stationed in the area started to write home about the breed, sometimes even including pictures. Interest was aroused, and in 1962 the Ankara Zoo felt pressured into sending a breeding pair of cats to the United States with Colonel and Mrs. Walter Grant. These would be the foundation of the breed in North America, but they were hardly the last cats to be brought over from the Ankara Zoo.

Another pair was brought to the United States in 1964, and a few others here and there, until finally there were enough Turkish Angora cats in the United States for breeders to stop worrying about importing cats from overseas. Finally, after years of work and discouragement, the Turkish Angora was firmly established in North America.

The Appearance of the Turkish Angora

Often called the ballerina of cats, the Turkish Angora has long legs and a fine bone structure. Thought graceful, he is also powerful and muscular, not at all thin or bony. The head is an elegant wedge, the ears and eyes rather large, giving the breed a majestic appearance.

The coat is soft and silky and varies in length according to the season. In winter, the hair is long and the tail has a full plume. In summer, the hair is shorter, leaving only slight britches and a fluffy tail to remind you of his winter glory. Any color is acceptable, but white is the most common and the most desirable. This breed also comes in most patterns, including tabby, smoke, parti-color, and solid, obviously.

Many white cats will have odd eyes, where one eye is blue and the other is amber or green. This is allowed, but only if the cat is white. White cats may also have blue eyes, green eyes, or amber eyes. Other Turkish Angoras should have amber eyes.

With semi-long hair you might expect the Turkish Angora to mat and tangle easily, but the silky texture and uniform growth limit the grooming needs of this cat. He should be brushed once a week to remove loose hair, but he won't generally mat and he always looks his best.

The Personality of the Turkish Angora

You would be hard pressed to find a breed more elegant and graceful than the Turkish Angora. He moves with the grace and power of a trained dancer, often doing so just to entertain you. He love to play and race around, chasing toys and leaping about until you are laughing at his antics.

The Turkish Angora loves people of all ages. Old, young, it doesn't matter. People are great and a constant source of love and affection according to this energetic breed. He can tolerate other pets, but only if he gets to take precedence over them. He needs to be able to command your affection before the dog does or he'll become one irate kitty.

If you're looking for a majestic bundle of energy who will crawl all over you day and night, the Turkish Angora might be the cat for you.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Cat Breeds: Toyger

Some breeds come about simply as an experimental accident. Such is the case with the Toyger. In the late 1980s a tabby breeder named Judy Sugden was busy using selective breeding to improve the distinct markings of her mackerel tabby cats. During this process, she took note of one of her cats. He was unusual in that he had two spots of tabby markings on his temple. Sugden realized that she might be able to use this cat to develop a breed that resembled a wild tiger, but only if she crossed him with a big-boned Bengal. It certainly had possibilities. And so her experiment began.

She was joined in her efforts by Anthony Hutcherson and Alice McKee. Together they established a proper breeding program for their fledgling breed, and in 1993 TICA accepted the Toyger as a Preliminary New Breed. In 2000 it was advanced to New Breed Status, but it wasn't until 2007 that the Toyger was finally granted Championship Status. Today it is considered a rare breed and is one of the more expensive breeds in the market.

The Appearance of the Toyger

This energetic little guy really does look like a miniature tiger, only not quite so orange. His body is long and powerful, his shoulders high, his bones thick and heavy. Weighing no more than 15 pounds, the Toyger really is grace in motion.

Colors for the Toyger do range a bit. The base color can be a striking orange, but may also have a more yellowed appearance. The stripes must stand out, but that's not all that's distinctive about the coat. If you look closely, you'll see what looks like gold glitter scattered across the fur. This isn't a camera trick, and it isn't unique to one cat. Toygers really do look like they've been sprinkled with glitter.

When Sugden was creating her new breed, she had something specific in mind. She wanted tiger markings that were distinctly not tabby, and the pattern had to be vivid against the base color. She even decided the cats must have circular head markings. Because she was so specific, and only used cats that would give her the markings she desired, she managed to get exactly what she was after in a relatively short amount of time. Her experiment was more than successful.

The Personality of the Toyger

Sugden did more than breed for coat color. She wanted her tiny tigers to be sweet and affectionate, and this she accomplished. The typical Toyger is intelligent and good natured. He'll play a game of fetch, or nap on your lap, or even romp with the kids. He's adaptable, so kids and other pets are not a problem. He does fairly well on his own, but he loves his family and wants to be the center of attention.

If you're looking for a cat who is a natural acrobat, a sweetheart, and resembles a toy tiger, the Toyger might be for you.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Cat Breeds: Tonkinese

The Tonkinese is the perfect example of a hybrid progressing through the ranks to become a truly recognized breed in its own right. The 1960s saw the Canadian cat fancier Margaret Conroy and her beloved Siamese and Burmese cats take center stage. Conroy loved both breeds, and so set out to create a hybrid that embodied her favorite qualities of each breed. Choosing her breeding cats carefully, she crossed a seal point Siamese with a sable Burmese. At first she called her kittens Golden Siamese, but later adopted the name Tonkinese, as suggested by other cat fanciers who wanted to avoid the notion that the Tonkinese was just another hybrid.

With the aid of other breeders, Conroy wrote a moderate and reasonable standard for her new cats and presented it to the Canadian Cat Association. This standard described a cat that was neither slinky nor stocky. Instead her cat was the perfect blend of Siamese and Burmese body type. Her standards were accepted and in 1965 the Canadian Cat Association gave the Tonkinese Championship Status. The Independent Cat Association (which no longer exists) followed suit in 1972. It wasn't long before all other American registries did the same. Today the breed is recognized by just about every registry in the world.

The Appearance of the Tonkinese

The stunning Tonkinese is the perfect blend of its parent breeds. It is neither sleek nor cobby, but something in between. Weighing in at no more than 12 pounds, this cat is medium in size with a rounded and muscular body. The head is a gentle wedge and the ears are only slightly larger than your average domestic cat. The muzzle should be blunt and fairly short.

The eyes of the Tonkinese are like little almonds in shape, but not in color. The most common eye color is a stunning turquoise or aqua, though blue and even green are also allowed. Regardless of color, the eyes should be bright and alert.

As for coat color...well, there's a little more variety. And a little more controversy. Tonkinese are available in many colors and patterns. There are pointed, solid, and mink cats, and all these patterns can be found in blue, chocolate, cinnamon, fawn, lilac, seal, and even red with tortoiseshell counterparts. Unfortunately for breeders and enthusiasts, not all registries accept all colors and patterns. So while your blue mink Tonkinese may be shown with one registry, it's considered ineligible for competition by another. If you're interested in showing your cat, consult with the registry you're interested in before you purchase your Tonkinese to make sure you're getting a kitten who will be eligible for competition.

The coat must of necessity be short and should lie flat against the body. Its silky texture is a breeze to groom, with no more than a quick weekly brushing necessary to keep your kitty looking and feeling his best.

The Personality of the Tonkinese

This cuddly breed demands to be next to you, under your feet, or in your lap. Your feline friend will want to be in the middle of everything and he'll talk to you frequently, fully expecting you to engage him in conversation. Despite this tendency to talk, he's not as vocal as his Siamese cousins. Still, he's louder than your average cat, so be prepared for chirps and meows at all hours because he doesn't know how to tell time and doesn't care that it's well after midnight.

A lover of games of all kinds, he'll play fetch for hours on end, then turn around and race around your house like a mad kitty while he waits for the next game to start. Because he's always on the lookout for new playmates, he gets along well with children and other pets as long as they'll play with him. He loves to play chase, so dogs are a favorite companion for this social breed.

If you're looking for an intelligent cat who will charm your guests and love you forever, the Tonkinese might be the cat for you.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Hybrid Cat Breeds: Thai

Though registered as the Thai with TICA and some select registries in Europe, it's actually known as the Wichienmaat or Old-Style Siamese in Thailand. This adorable cat originates in the Thai kingdom of Ayudhai, and it is still occasionally bred in Thailand today. Elsewhere, however, the Thai is virtually unknown. TICA recognized this cat as a Preliminary New Breed in 2007, and an Advanced New Breed in 2009, but still most people haven't heard of this little guy.

Medium in size and possessing rather short hair, the Thai has a softer appearance than its more popular cousin, the Siamese. The forehead is long and flat, the face sweet and round, and the eyes large and always blue. The hair is short, but very soft, and grooming is easy enough. Only a single brushing a week is required, and this takes only a few minutes.

Though white markings of any kind are not permitted on the Thai, the points may be of any other color. There are Thai cats with tabby, tortoiseshell, or solid point, as long as there is no white present. The body is typically cream, though yellow tones are permitted.

Like many breeds, the Thai is quite intelligent and loves people. And while they may be low maintenance when it comes to grooming, they're truly high maintenance when it comes to affection. This talkative creature will demand any and all attention from anyone in the house. He doesn't really care where he gets his love as long as he gets it. So be prepared to spend a lot of time cuddling.

If you're looking for something a little softer than the Siamese, but still just as charming, you might be looking for the Thai. If you can stand being nuzzled day and night.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Cat Breeds: Sphynx

In the early 1900s, a cat resembling today's modern Sphynx was shown, but this cat was described as a New Mexican Hairless Cat. It was not recognized worldwide and it did not gain much attention, but it was the first time this type of cat had been exhibited. Though the same mutation appeared several times after this, sometimes in North America, sometimes in Europe, it wasn't until the 1960s that a real effort to create a breed from these cats truly started.

In 1966 a small black and white kitten was born in Ontario, Canada. This kitten had no hair, but did have a very fine down covering her entire body. This little female was named Prune and she would become the foundation cat for the modern Sphynx breed. She was bred to other cats in an attempt to generate more kittens with the hairless gene, but it turned out the gene was recessive. That meant breeding hairless kittens was difficult. Even once a male with the recessive gene was found, only one in four kittens would be hairless. Eventually, however, there were enough kittens to start a true breeding program.

At first these kittens were called Canadian Hairless Cats, but it wasn't long before people started calling them Sphynx. These cats were recognized provisionally by the Cat Fanciers' Association in 1970, but the CFA withdrew its support due to concerns over genetic difficulties (especially its possibly compromised immune system). These concerns were eventually dismissed or corrected and today the Sphynx is recognized by several registries, including TICA.

The Appearance of the Sphynx

Medium in size, the Sphynx is muscular and athletic. The ears are truly huge and the eyes are the shape of ripe lemons. The ears and the eyes combine to give the Sphynx a sweet and open expression. Unless he's annoyed. This cat has the ability to look supremely vexed when he has to. It's almost eerie, the expressions the Sphynx is capable of.

The coat is really the most distinctive characteristic of the Sphynx. Though not truly hairless, this cat is as close as you can get. A fine down covers the entire body, making the skin feel like a soft suede. Acceptable colors and patterns are many and varied. You can have tabby, tortoiseshell, parti-color, and solid Sphynx cats. It's the coat type, not the color, that makes this cat.

Because this cat doesn't have real fur, he doesn't have anything to absorb the natural oils produced by the body. This means he'll get oily, so bathe your cat frequently. Twice a week should do it. If you neglect this simple task, expect to see a greasy spot in any place he's been napping. He also may get cold, so a sweater and a warm bed are a necessity. And sunblock for those sunny days because his delicate skin will burn. Talk to your veterinarian about appropriate brands for your feline friend or just keep him out of the sun.

Though generally thought of as hairless, a Sphynx isn't actually hypoallergenic. This is because most people are allergic to a particular feline protein, and this protein is contained in the saliva as well as the dander. So if you want a cat but you're allergic, before deciding on a Sphynx make sure you've spent some time with one so you know if you're allergic or not.

The Personality of the Sphynx

A Sphynx is almost like a little dog. He's loyal and loving and won't usually leave you alone. He's also fond of snuggling, and not just because he likes to be warm. He just loves to be close and he'll do whatever is necessary to accomplish that goal.

Highly intelligent, the Sphynx is a breed that will get into everything and anything. And while he loves you and your family, he's also just fine on his own. Unfortunately for you, these two traits mean trouble if he's left with nothing to occupy his time. So leave him a few good toys so he doesn't climb into the cupboard and pull out the flour for a good romp. Trust me when I tell you that getting flour off an oily Sphynx isn't a lot of fun. But a good Sphynx is one of the most entertaining of companions.

If you're looking for a unique cat who is loving and equally good with children and other pets, the Sphynx might be for you.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Cat Breeds: Somali

Most breeds that are both ancient and have an exotic look about them have short hair. But sometimes, as breeds are strengthened using controlled outcrosses, an unintended gene creeps in. In the late part of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th, Abyssinian breeders were forced to outcross simply to maintain genetic diversity. At least one of the non-Abyssinian cats used in Abyssinian breeding program had the recessive gene for long hair.

Recessive genes rarely stay that way for long, however, so it should come as no surprise that longhaired Abyssinian kittens were sometimes produced. These undesirable kittens were typically given away, never to be used in breeding programs. But eventually things came full circle, as they often do. It was 1969 when an Abyssinian breeder named Evelyn Mague was working in an animal shelter in New Jersey. One day, when Mague was working, a kitten named George was brought to the shelter. He was not only a longhaired Abyssinian, but one of the kittens Mague herself had bred a few years earlier. Appalled by the way he'd been treated, Mague had him neutered and placed in a loving forever home.

But George's story stuck with her. For a pedigreed cat to be treated as so unwanted just because he'd had the misfortune to be born with long hair was a travesty. Mague decided to not only find and show the longhaired cats, but to have them accepted as longhaired Abyssinians. This didn't go over well with Abyssinian breeders, so Mague pursued the idea that the cats were their own breed, one she labelled the Somali.

Producing more longhaired kittens wasn't difficult. She still had George's parents, after all, so she was able to add approximately one out of every four kittens to her new Somali breeding program. And since the longhaired gene was recessive, breeding Somalis to Somalis produced nothing but longhaired kittens.

It took some time, but Mague managed to find a few other breeders working with longhaired Abyssinians in both the US and Canada. By 1972 there were enough breeders to found the Somali Cat Club of America. It wasn't long before Somalis were registered with National Cat Fanciers' Association (which no longer exists). Other associations, including TICA, soon granted the Somali Championship Status.

The Somali is a man-made breed. It is not the result of a spontaneous mutation, as some Abyssinian breeders claim, and breeders from all over the world were responsible for the introduction of the longhaired gene. Ideally, the Somali should have been recognized as simply a variation of the Abyssinian. It was not to be, however, and so the Somali was born.

The Appearance of the Somali

Because Somalis are really just longhaired Abyssinians, almost everything about them is exactly the same as their parent breed. The head, the body, the conformation...everything is just like the Abyssinian. Somalis should be lean and muscled, giving them an impressive agility. Ears are just a little large and eyes are shaped liked rounded almonds. Just like the Abyssinian.

Even the coat colors are the same as the Abby. Blue, chocolate, cinnamon, fawn, lilac, and ruddy are all acceptable colors. Other colors are sometimes produced, and some registries even accept these colors. Typically, if a color is accepted for the Somali, it is also accepted for the Abyssinian, and vice versa.

The only real difference between the two breeds is the coat length. For a Somali the coat should be long and soft and the tail should have a lovely plume. The neck should have a ruff and the legs should appear fluffy. Somalis look almost like little toys cats, so fluffy and beautiful as they are.

The Personality of the Somali

Somalis are sweet, loyal, and affectionate. Highly intelligent, they will explore every nook and cranny of your home and follow you around looking for new mischief to get themselves into.

This adorable little breed loves children, other pets, and all the people. All the people. He's constantly looking for someone to give him love and attention, so he's a good cat for large, busy households. He'll play games all day, especially if these games involve running and jumping. He's an athletic breed, so make sure he has plenty to keep him happy and occupied.

If you're looking for a sweet cat with the look of the Abyssinian, but you want something with a little more fluff, the Somali just might be for you.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Hybrid Cat Breeds: Sokoke

Not all breeds are thrown into the hybrid category because they're hybrids. Sometimes unrecognized breeds remain that way for a while because they're rare and a little different than most accepted breeds. The Sokoke is one if those cats. We don't really know where this breed comes from, but it seems likely that the Sokoke is a naturally occurring breed from Kenya. In 1978 a woman named Jeri Slater found two of these kittens on her coconut plantation in just that area. She kept them and later bred them.

It was her friend Gloria Moeldrup who brought two of these kittens to Europe in 1984. More were imported in 1991 and 1992, and finally FIFe (Fédération Internationale Féline) recognized the breed in 1994. But this was in Europe. It would be some time before the Sokoke was brought to the United States.

When it did finally happen, it was purely due to the interested of Jeannie Knocker and her son. They researched the breed and contacted breeders in Europe, bringing the first Sokoke cats into the United States in 2001. They started their own breeding program with the seven cats they had obtained, but it wasn't until 2004 that TICA accepted the breed for registration. It was a further four years before the Sokoke was advanced to Preliminary New Breed Status. This breed is still struggling for recognition around the world, but it will happen eventually.

Medium in size, the Sokoke is muscular and strong. His head is narrow and his ears are small, giving him an exotic appearance. Thought TICA currently only recognizes the black and brown modified classic tabby coat pattern, the Sokoke actually has many colors. Pointed kittens have been produced and there have even been blue and longhaired kittens in the past few years. Though these are not currently recognized, they're all still Sokoke cats, so don't discount them if you're looking for a pet.

This athletic breed is curious, active, and highly territorial. He loves people and wants to be the center of attention, but he's not great with other cats or even dogs. People. He likes people. Lots of people. He loves a good game and will play fetch, chase, or anything else you can come up with if it means he gets to hang out with you.

If you're looking for an athletic cat who never sits still, the Sokoke might be for you. But keep him entertained or he might tear up your curtains from sheer boredom.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Cat Breeds: Snowshoe

It was the early 1960s when three kittens with snow white feet were born into an otherwise normal litter of Siamese. These kittens were noticed by Dorothy Hinds Daughtery, who found the combination both striking and appealing. She thought perhaps she had the makings of a new breed on her hands, so she kept the kittens an experiment.

Because of the unique features of the kittens, she thought it best to breed them to an American Shorthair. She chose a cat with tuxedo markings for her first cross. This mating would produce the characteristic "V" facial markings the Snowshoe would eventually become known for.

We don't really know a lot about the history or breedings that took place in those early years because records were poorly kept, if they were kept at all, and there was declining interest in this new breed anyway. By 1977, in fact, there was only a single breeder left in the United States. The Snowshoe very nearly died out, and would have if there hadn't been a sudden resurgence of interest in this aloof breed. But there was, and this brought the cat back from the very edge of extinction.

By 1989 there were nearly thirty breeders across the country. It became obvious the Snowshoe was both interesting and unique, so TICA granted this cute cat Championship Status in 1994. Since then it has only grown in popularity.

The Appearance of the Snowshoe

Weighing no more than 12 pounds, the Snowshoe is medium in size and has a powerful body. He is long and muscular with a triangular head and large, expressive ears. Eyes should be round and range in color from a stark blue to a paler blue-gray.

The coat of all Snowshoe kittens is white at first. Snow white, actually. But this changes quickly, leaving only the feet and a "V" on the face white, as the body turns to cream and the points darken to their adult color, beginning at around two or three weeks of age. Common colors include blue point and seal point. Chocolate point and lilac point do exist, but these are not bred for and are considered rare and less desirable.

The hair is short and lays close to the body in a single layer. This makes grooming easy. Run a rubber brush over your feline friend once a week and call it done.

The Personality of the Snowshoe

Because this cat is a combination of the American Shorthair and the Siamese, he has inherited the temperament of both. Tending towards curious and aloof, the Snowshoe bonds to one specific person, not an entire family. With this person he will cuddle, play, and even talk in the melodious voice so common among Siamese blends. He'll demand attention, but he also needs stimulation. Because he is so intelligent and inquisitive, he'll need toys and other items to keep his attention. He will be destructive if he's too bored, so invest in some toys and climbing trees for when you're not around.

As happy and affectionate as this guy can be, he's not great with other people. Or other cats. Or dogs. Or really anything else. He loves his one person and that's about it. The Snowshoe does best in a quiet home with an affectionate human to spend his days with.

If you're looking for a cat with a unique look and a budding personality, the Snowshoe might be for you. If you have a calm home for him to settle in to.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Cat Breeds: Singapura

Like the name suggests, the Singapura originates from Singapore. In that area, cats with ticked coats of a deep brown color have been common for centuries. But it wasn't until the 1970s that married couple Hal and Tommy Meadow brought the first of these little sweethearts to the United States. They would eventually start a breeding program to establish the Singapura in the US.

Because they had so few cats to start with, they were naturally concerned with inbreeding. They consulted with a British geneticist on how best to proceed. This slowed down the breeding program a bit, but it made for a stronger, healthier breed all around. When other breeders began working with the Singapura, they all benefited from the care taken in those early days.

Occasionally, despite all the careful breeding, solid brown kittens were born into Singapura litters. By 1985 it was suspected that some Singapuras carried a recessive gene for solid color. This didn't sit well with breeders at all and it was decided a test-mating program was the best way to identify cats with the recessive gene. By 1988 a total of seven cats with the unwanted gene were identified. These cats were adopted out as pets, never again to be used in the Singapura breeding program. This solved the problem of brown kittens, but it also narrowed the gene pool a bit.

Though there were few purebred cats at the time, the Singapura was recognized as a unique and distinct breed by TICA in 1979. But to continue the breeding programs in the United States, more cats were necessary. In 1987 Singapura breeder Gerry Mayes travelled to Singapore, bringing back more cats that could be registered with TICA. The breed is still rare and expensive, but at least the gene pool is relatively wide today.

The Appearance of the Singapura

Weighing in at no more than 8 pounds, the Singapura is the smallest purebred cat in the world. It can take up to two years for this little cat to reach maturity, and when he is grown he is still a tiny thing. His compact body and powerful legs make him an excellent jumper, even among cats. He can and will leap up anywhere.

The rounded head and large ears give the Singapura an alert and even surprised look. The eyes are beautiful and look as if they're decorated with eye liner. Eye color can range from hazel to copper to gold. Some cats even have green eyes.

There is only one allowable coat color for a Singapura. The cat should be ivory with rich sable brown ticking. Some cats have a slightly yellow tone, but this should be mild and is not preferred. Bars of sable should be present on the legs and a noticeable "M" should appear on the forehead.

The coat is always short and easily managed. A quick brush once a week and a buff with a chamois cloth is more than enough to keep your Singapura looking and feeling his best.

The Personality of the Singapura

This breed is a people-loving extrovert at heart. He will follow you around the house and poke his nose into everything you do. He's the cat who will lay on your papers and jump on the keyboard. Are you baking? Watch the cat. He'll leap right into the middle of it all just because he likes to be in on the action.

He also loves heights, so expect to find him on top of fridges and cupboards. The tops of curtain rods are also common spots for this athletic breed. Or he might just sit on your shoulder so he doesn't miss anything. Either way, he gets a bird's eye view.

This little guy gets along well with other cats, even if they're not Singapuras, but he doesn't really like dogs. They tend to be too big and loud for such a tiny cat. He also would prefer older children to younger children for this same reason. Loud people are not his favorite thing, so teach everyone to be quiet and calm around your Singapura kitty.

The Singapura will play with you, but he'd prefer to snuggle and chat. While this breed isn't as vocal as the Siamese, he'll still occasionally chirp and meow and purr to get your attention. Talk to him and he might speak up more.

If you're looking for a tiny cat who always wants to cuddle, the Singapura might be the right cat for you.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Cat Breeds: Siberian

We don't really know where the majestic Siberian cat came from, but we do know there are references to these cats as early as 1000 CE (common era). Siberians appeared in the first cat shows in Europe in the 1870s and there is even an oblique reference to Siberian cats at the 1884 Madison Square Garden exhibition. Clearly they're not a new cat.

Siberian cats were mentioned in several books from the era, including the 1889 classic Our Cats by Harrison Weir and the 1898 book Domestic & Fancy Cats by John Jennings. Even the first photo of a Siberian appeared in an early book, specifically Helen Winslow's Concerning Cats. They've been around a while and everyone knows it.

Unfortunately for the breed, records weren't really kept on these beautiful cats in the early days, hampering their recognition by most associations. Finally, in the 1980s, Russian breeders began keeping proper records. They even developed the first breed standards at the Kotofei Cat Club in Moscow around that time, using a blue point and white cat and a brown tabby and white cat as their ideal examples of what the breed should be. This standardization of the breed also meant that other countries could start accepting the cats on an exhibition basis. The United States did this early on.

The All Union Cat Show in 1989 featured 12 Siberians, and a year later three of these beautiful creatures were imported into the United States by Elizabet Terrll. 1997 saw the first colorpoint Siberians brought to the US and in 1998 the first colorpoint kittens were born.

Acceptance was fairly simply once accurate records were being kept. TICA accepted the Siberian as a New Breed in 1992 and by 1996 they had achieved full Championship Status.

The Appearance of the Siberian

Large and powerful, the Siberian is ahead cat with a thick bone structure. The body and head are rounded with gentle contours and soft lines. Even the eyes are rounded, giving the cat a sweet expression. Solid legs and powerful hind quarters make this cat an excellent jumper, so expect to find him on top of the fridge from time to time.

With hair that is a little too long to be called short, and a little too short to be called long, the Siberian has an odd coat length that varies with the seasons. In winter it will be thick and plush with three layers to protect the body from the harsh winters in northern Russia, but in summer this coat sheds out, leaving behind something a little shorter and not half so thick. It's always soft, however, so the Siberian is a pleasure to pet.

The coat comes in a variety of colors and patterns. Colorpoint Siberians, also called Neva-Masquerade, are actually considered a separate breed by the FIF (Fédération Internationale Féline) registry. This is unusual, and has not been done in other registries. For the most point, colorpoint cats are classed with the rest of their Siberian cat friends.

Regardless of color or pattern, Siberians require intense grooming. During the winter, if you forget to brush him one day, he'll be matted by the next, so daily grooming is required. You'll have to keep this up even in the summer for the health and comfort of the cat, but the results are worth the effort.

The Personality of the Siberian

Intelligent and determined, this cat can and will learn now to open cupboards, find those snacks you thought you'd hidden, and can even remove child proof locks if he has enough time. With an impeccable memory and an unwillingness to be dissuaded, expect him to keep at it until he gets what he wants.

He loves people and is highly affectionate. Blessed with a fierce desire to play, he'll engage in a rousing game of fetch or run an obstacle course if that's the current game. Kids love him, and he loves kids, so he's a great family pet. He'll even get along with dogs if they're willing to play a game or two.

The Siberian is a vocal breed with a great range of chirps and meows. He can hold conversations for quite a while if you'll speak to him, and he loves to greet his people at the door with a few high pitched chirps.

If you're looking for a cat who is fun for the whole family and is lovely to behold, the Siberian might be for you. If you can stand the constant grooming, that is.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Hybrid Cat Breeds: Serengeti

One day, a woman by the name of Karen Sausman had an idea. She wanted to create a cat that looked like the African serval but had no actual serval blood. This makes the Serengeti unlike the Savannah in any respect. Sausman would active her goals by crossing Bengals with Oriental Shorthairs at Kingsmark Cattery in California.

Her hybrid was a medium sized cat with long legs and a long body. With a large bone structure and upright posture, the Serengeti truly does have the bearing of a jungle cat. Ears and eyes are both just a little larger than you would expect for a domestic cat, and the eyes are either gold or amber in color.

The coat is distinctive, different even than its Bengal ancestors. It should be dusty gold in color, perhaps a dull yellow, with large black spots that are widely spaced. There are some Serengeti cats with solid black coats, but these are rare and not preferred. They're not typically used in breeding programs because they do not conform to the standard breeders are currently trying to achieve.

When it comes to personality and temperament, the Serengeti takes after his Oriental Shorthair ancestors. He is loyal and loves to be around people. He'll play at all hours and will run and jump around the house with the ability of a jungle cat. He's not that fond of fetch, but he does need your companionship. Don't leave him all alone for the weekend or he'll become annoyed. Annoyed Serengeti cats can become destructive.

Like the Oriental Shorthair, the Serengeti is a vocal cat. He'll have entire conversations with humans, and he'll expect you to talk back at him. He's very sweet and ready to snuggle at a moment's notice. Young children may frighten him, but older children will become fast friends.

The Serengeti is a true hybrid and is recognized by very few cat registries around the world. With time, however, he may become more common at cat shows as he gains acceptance. Right now he's just a fun designer cat.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Cat Breeds: Selkirk Rex

The Selkirk Rex isn't an ancient breed. In fact, it can only trace it's origins to Montana in 1987. Persian breeder Jeri Newman took in a female kitten with an unusual look about her. Quickly named Miss DePesto, the kitten had curly whiskers, a wavy coat, and tightly curled hair in her ears. The other kittens in the litter did not exhibit these traits, leading Newman to believe Miss DePesto might have a new mutant Rex gene.

So Newman bred Miss DePesto to a black Persian male. The resulting litter had six kittens, three of whom had the curly coat of their mother. This meant that the gene was dominant, not recessive like both the Cornish Rex and the Devon Rex. This was the beginning of a whole new breed, and breeders throughout the country were quick to catch on.

TICA accepted the Selkirk Rex into its New Breed program in 1990, then granted it Championship Status in 1994. Since then, most registries have accepted this cat as a unique and recognizable breed.

The Appearance of the Selkirk Rex

With heavy boning and a muscular body, the Selkirk Rex is a medium to large size cat who weighs more than he looks like he should. His round head, round eyes, and tilted ears give him a sweet and open expression.

Like many breeds, the Selkirk Rex has both a longhaired and a shorthaired variety. The shorthaired cats have curls that are both dense and plush. Cats with this coat resemble teddy bears in their way. Longhaired cats...well, they tend to look like they're always having a bad hair day. They have the same fur as their shorthaired brothers, only longer, so they look a lot like tousled little sheep. Think a lamb that you've thrown in the dryer.

Regardless of coat length, the Selkirk Rex can be of any color. Curls will stand out most on the belly, neck, and flanks and are soft and fluffy to the touch. All Selkirk Rex cats need to be groomed regularly. Shorthaired cats can probably thrive with only a once a week brushing, but longhaired cats need to be completely groomed at least twice a week, preferably more, just to keep the coat free of tangles.

The Personality of the Selkirk Rex

This adorable cat loves attention. He is laid back enough to just hang out and he is always up for a cuddle. When someone wants to pet and stroke his unique fur, he typically thrives on the attention. That's good, because with a coat like his, it's often too much for guests to resist a quick pat.

With a love of games and a true desire to please, the Selkirk Rex is good with children as long as introductions are slow and positive. He'll play games with children and even occasionally want to dash around the house with them, but he also needs his space. If he backs off, let him go. He'll rejoin the game when he's ready.

If you're looking for a unique breed who loves people and can't get enough attention, you might want to consider the Selkirk Rex.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Cat Breeds: Scottish Fold

Random mutation has given us many different cat breeds, including the unique Scottish Fold. Back in 1961, William Ross found a white barn cat with long white hair in Scotland. He took her home and named her Susie. Susie was bred to several male cats, including Persians, America Shorthairs, Burmese, and even Exotic Shorthairs. Some of these kittens developed ears that folded down. These cute little guys would become the foundation for the Scottish Fold breed around the world.

Today, Scottish Folds are recognized by most associations around the world. Some registries, such as TICA, allow outcrosses with American Shorthairs or British Shorthairs to keep the gene pool strong, but some registries have banned such practices, meaning not all Scottish Folds can compete in all associations.

The Appearance of the Scottish Fold

This unique breed is medium in size with a soft, round body. Eyes should be round and are typically copper in color, but all eye colors are allowed. The coat is found in all colors and patterns and can either be short or long. Shorthair cats should be groomed once a week, but longhaired cats need a thorough brushing at least two or three times a week to stay happy and healthy.

The ears are, of course, the most distinctive trait of the Scottish Fold. All Scottish Folds are actually born with straight ears, but when the kittens are about three weeks old the ears start to fold forward and down. Usually only half of all kittens will carry the gene that causes folded ears, which means half will have straight ears. These kittens are called straight eared Scottish Folds and, while they are technically Scottish Folds, they are not eligible for competition and they are not usually used in breeding programs.

With the big round eyes and the folded ears that lie flat against the head, the Scottish Fold looks a bit like an owl. A cute, irresistible owl.

The Personality of the Scottish Fold

Intelligent and loyal, the Scottish Fold can learn just about anything, with or without your help. Expect your kitty to pull open cupboard doors and crawl about inside. You might even find him curled up inside a bowl or a pan. You will almost certainly find him sleeping in the sink at some point.

This cat isn't at all shy and loves a good game of fetch. He's good with other pets, including dogs, and loves children. Even younger children are well tolerated by this sociable breed. A friend is a good idea, but it doesn't have to be another Scottish Fold. Another breed of cat, or even a dog, will work just as well.

The Scottish Fold is an amusing cat. He might eat with his feet, sit up like a prairie dog, or even lounge like a human. If you want a funny breed to keep you company, the Scottish Fold just might be the right fit.

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.