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.