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what’s in a name ?

Cat Breed Name Origins

I didn’t even know that there were different cat breeds,” a man was recently overheard exclaiming. “i thought a cat was a cat… just different colors.” ignorant? Perhaps, but the fact is that while the general public can easily discern between a Dalmatian and a Dachshund, and can probably spew out a quick two dozen dog breeds, it is definitely the rare non-cat fancier who can name more than three cat breeds. siamese, Persian… and the list usually ends there. say “Maine Coon” and Joe Blow will think you are referring to some kind of raccoon. Mention Abyssinian and Jane smith will likely conjure images of some ancient Middle Eastern civilization. Even the Mini-Rex rabbit is probably more well-known than any Rex cat.

Oh, well, these folks just don,t know what they are missing, for the world of cat breeds definitely offers much in the way of beauty and intrigue. And it turns out like canines, there are dozens of cat breeds, some more popular than others, but each bringing something unique to the realm of cats… and something very special to those who have the pleasure of working with them.

Here’s a few :

Abyssinian : The cat breed called Abyssinian may or may not have been derived from cats that actually came from the region, but there can be no doubt that this animal reflects the exotic beauty and riches of ancient Abyssinia. Lithe and athletic, the Abyssinian is universally admired among cat enthusiasts, and definitely looks as if it is a direct descendant of the African wildcat. The Aby has large upright ears, a fine, thin neck, lion-like tail, and usually gold or green almondshaped eyes. it is a lively and intelligent breed that makes a very loyal companion.
Bengal : The name “Bengal” conjures images of the man-eating tigers of india, and while few Bengal breed cats have been known to eat anyone, they do have a definite look about them that suggests their wild forebears. This breed sports leopard-like spots that supposedly are engendered by actual wildcat ancestors. But the wildness is only coat-deep… underneath is a playful, trustworthy pet.
Burmese : The Burmese is a load, both physically and in the personality department. its hard musculature gives it a weight that is surprising considering its medium-sized appearance. Meanwhile, the breed is notoriously nutty… delighting in fun and games that many cats couldn’t imagine. its growing segment of fanciers greatly appreciate their cats’ playfulness, but most are initially drawn to the breed by its sheer beauty.

Himalayan : is there no end to the breeds of cats that are almost assuredly not from the lands for which they are named? The Himalayan is another of such breeds, actually a close relative of the Persian. The major distinguishing factor here is the Himalayan’s pointed coat, which run to blue, chocolate, seal, red and cream, tortie, lilac, and lynx versions. The Himalayan shares most of other attributes with the Persian, including its winning personality.

Maine Coon : The “state Cat of Maine” actually does sometimes resemble a raccoon in coat coloration and with its long, bushy tail. This large and heavilyfurred breed is well-suited to the rugged winters of New England. its water-resistant coat is unusual in texture, and is delightful to the touch. The Maine Coon is one of America’s oldest cat breeds.


Manx : The Manx is a very old English breed, distinguished by its stub tail, or in some cases no tail at all, which actually is preferred for show purposes. Aside from its rare rear, the Manx is a medium-sized cat with usually short (though sometimes long) and dense fur. The breed sports an overall rounded appearance and a family-friendly personality. it is generally not a highly active cat, nor is it extremely vocal.

Norwegian Forest Cat : The lynx-like Norwegian Forest Cat is a large and heavily-furred cat, which sports a range of coloration and a generally delightful personality. it is sometimes compared to the Maine Coon, which it superficially resembles. This breed did develop in the forests of Norway, but it is far from feral now. The long hair of this breed is not as much trouble as one might expect; with just a bit of help the cat keeps it in good shape all on its own.

Ocicat : Though the patterning on the coat definitely sometimes rings true to its wild Mexican and Central American distant cousin, the Ocicat is really not part Ocelot! in reality, the spots of this cat were achieved through selective breeding of Abyssinian, siamese and American shorthair stock. Despite not being a real jungle cat, the Ocicat is definitely a real fine pet… quite outgoing and friendly, and an excellent family member.

Persian : speaking of popularity, here is Number One insofar as pure-bred cats in the United states are concerned. Persian registrations dwarf all other breeds, and have for what seems like ages. Definitely the Persian is a beauty, with a luxuriant coat and that cute little pinched face. The coat requires almost daily brushing to keep tidy. The Persian’s affable, low-key personality also is a winner. it is the ultimate lap-cat.

Russian Blue : supposedly an export of Russia, and very definitely always blue… whether it be a dark tone or silvery. The coat is plush but not long, and does not require constant grooming. This is a lithe and athletically-built, medium-sized cat, with large ears and usually golden-green eyes. Though curious, playful and loyal, it can be somewhat shy around strangers or in unfamiliar situations.

Siamese : The fabled siamese cat deserves a nod of special recognition for its grand contribution to so many different breeds available today. still perhaps the ultimate “people-cat”, the beautiful siamese is the essence of the communicative cat… never failing to explain exactly how it feels about a given situation.

Sphynx : The winner, hands down, in the “Most Unusual Cat” category, is the sphynx, the hairless breed (though it is actually covered with a very soft, fine down). No mistaking these guys, who do look as if they stepped right out of a Pyramid hieroglyph. Despite being relatively hairless, the breed does show coloration of various types and patterns. Though very unusual-looking, the sphynx is as dependably loving and friendly as one would expect of any of those “other” cats… you know, the ones with fur.


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