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The Breeds: Long-Hairs, Short-Hairs, Foreign

The Breeds: Long-Hairs, Short-Hairs, Foreign

Although most house cats in the United States are not pedigreed, the
pedigreeds are an established part of cat life and history. Of course, as pets
and companions, there is no difference between the house cat and the bred
cat. But for many owners, a bred cat gives them the opportunity to choose
a color, coat, and personality
that suit their own tastes. For example, a per-son allergic to the long
hair of the Persian or Maine Coon may prefer
short-haired cat, such as an Abyssinian or a Siamese. Or else an owner may
want a particular temperament even and affectionate as with the Abys-
sinian or more spirited
as with the Siamese. Coat and eye color (or combi-nations) may enter into it as well. Both the Persians and the Siamese offer a
great variety of colors, either solids or varieties.
Further, an owner may wish to show or breed in a small way, and for
that he or she needs a pedigreed cat. For the person who just loves cats,
the breeds are something lovely to look at, part of nature's abundance of
varieties and distinctions. Some of the breeds are themselves straight from
nature, but many are the result of careful selection, in which generations of
cats have been mated in order to produce a genetic strain of a particular
body and head structure, a fixed coat and eye color, and a general configu-ration that follows a distinct standard for that breed. The cats that are de-
scribed in this chapter are, for the most part, the result of the breeders' use
of selection to produce a strain of cat that "breeds true" generation after
generation. After four generations of such breeding, a cat is eligible for rec-ognition by one of the cat fanciers' associations, which regulate the breeds.
In the following breed distinctions, I have in the main followed the breed standards for the United States. But for group distinctions, the Brit- ish categories of long-hair, short-hair, and foreign are less confusing. This grouping will be followed here. In the United States, the main division is between long-hairs and short-hairs, The long-hairs are still referred to as Persians, and the short- haired group includes the so-called "foreign" breeds. Thus, for American classification, all long-hairs except the Angora, Balinese, Birman (not to be confused with the Burmese), Himalayan (or Colorpoint), Maine Coon, and Turkish (the Van cat) are considered Persians. This category depends, then, almost completely on the coat length, for within this large group of Persians there are major distinctions of temperament, body configuration, eye color, coat color, and even the coat itself. British classification no longer uses Persian to mean long-haired, and there is no attempt to group all such cats. Each recognized breed simply has its own standard. When British cat fanciers make distinctions, they divide cats into long-hairs and short-hairs for ease of description, not be- cause of any breed grouping. Also, the British tend to classify their cats as those intrinsically British and those that are foreign. At one time, the terms "Angora" (now a "foreign") and "Persian" were used synonymously. To stick to the long-hairs for the moment: The best thing for the reader is to forget any larger distinctions, which tend to be meaningless, and to* concentrate on a particular breed: its coat, color, eye color, body structure, general look, and temperament. What counts is the particular cat, not the class or group to which it belongs. If you like a long-hair, then you can search for one whose color pleases you. You might want a White, and then you have a choice of eye color: blue, orange, copper, or odd (one blue and one orange). If you like the Tabby that is, one with black markings then you have a choice of numerous color patterns with the black: blue, brown, cream, red, silver, Or you may choose for temperament. The Balinese, for example, has a temperament similar to that of the Siamese, although it has a longer-haired coat. Thus, there is a long-hair with the Siamese (a short- hair) temperament. The short-hairs, in which American associations group their own do- mestic variety along with the so-called "foreign" breeds, are also full of dis- tinctions, in color, eyes, and body and head configuration. The sole thing they have in common is length of coat, although not all short-hairs are short-haired. The Siamese is the most popular breed in this grouping. The great attraction of the Siamese, in addition to its sleek and beautifully col- ored coat, is its lithe appearance, its characteristic lean but strong body, its wedge-shaped head, which tapers to a sweet-looking muzzle, and its

                        THE BREEDS
oriental-shaped eyes, which slant slightly toward the nose.
Another very popular short-hair is the Abyssinian. This breed resem-
bles those we see in Egyptian art, where the cat was enshrined as an object
of worship. The Abyssinian is noted for its "fresh" look: alert, lithe, jungle-
like; yet it is friendly and adapts well within the family. In terms of coat
colors, the short-hairs offer a great variety. Within the Siamese alone,
there are numerous "point" colors; by "points," we mean the muzzle, ears,
tail, and toes. The points may be blue, chocolate, lilac, red, seal (dark
brown), and lynx (tabby stripes).
But to single out these breeds is not to play down the others. The
reader, once again, should not see the short-hairs as a single category, but
only as a form of classification; the thing
that counts is the individual breed
and the individual cat.
Whatever their grouping,
the breeds have interesting histories, some
of which we will pick up as we discuss each type. The origin of all cat
species, long- or short-hairs, appears to be a weasel-like animal called the
miacis. From this primeval and quite
vicious beast came, in evolutionary
stages, the dog, weasel, hyena, lynx, and what we know today as the cat.

                  THE LONG-HAIRS ANGORA

History and Origin

The Angora derives from Ankara, Turkey's capital, and at one time was
called a "Persian," meaning that like the Persian it was long-haired. Never-
theless, the types differ, with the Angora being far more slender and lithe
than the more massively built Persian. The breed was slow in making its
way to the United States because of close Turkish supervision. In fact, only
white Angoras were bred and raised. But by the 1960s, it began to flourish.
The Angora is a showman of sorts: affectionate, friendly, and avid to
learn and perform tricks. It makes a fine family cat.
The only acceptable color is white; any mixture disqualifies the cat at
shows. The eyes can be blue, amber, or odd. (Deafness may be present, a
factor in all white-coated cats, especially those blue or odd-eyed.)


Coat and Body Structure 
 The coat is less heavy than that of the Persian, of medium length and of silky texture; it may wave, and it tends to become finer as the cat ages. The body is lithe, with a longer trunk than the Persian, giving the impres- sion of sleekness and grace. While the cat may appear dainty, it is actually strongly built, although fine-boned and with tapering silhouette of both head and body. BALINESE History and Origin The Balinese was at one time called a "long-haired Siamese/' since it had Siamese qualities with a coat at least 2 inches in length. It was es- tablished as a new breed in 1968, as the Balinese. The Balinese differs from the Himalayan, another breed with which it was confused, by virtue of its similarity to the Siamese body structure, which is lithe; whereas the Hima- layan is of the Persian type, with a more massive and solidly built body structure, Characteristics Many of the Siamese characteristics are found in the Balinese, but the voice is lower and the temperament seems more even. It is affectionate and yet an exotic showpiece. Color The body color whether white, bluish-white, or ivory should con- trast sharply with the points: seal-point, chocolate-point, lilac-point, blue- point, and so on. Whatever the body color, the points should be well defined and without any white, The eyes are deep blue. Coat and Body Structure The coat is long and silky, and it requires less grooming than for a Per- sian type. It sheds relatively little, mats hardly at all, and requires little more care than that given short-hairs. The body, like that of the Angora, is 
somewhat dainty, but lithe and muscular. The overall silhouette is of slen-
deraess, with potential strength. Both head and body convey a tapering ef-
History and Origin
Once known as Magpies, Bicolored cats are those of any two colors,
with all kinds of variety permitted:
black and white, but also white with
blue, orange, or cream. The American standard calls for coat and type like
those of the Persian. The Bicolors are a long-recognized breed, and for a
time there was an attempt to approximate
the intricate patterning of the
Dutch rabbit, but this was given up, and the color scheme is less formal.
The Bicolor is now a standard feature in American shows, although some
independent cat fanciers do not permit all variations of color.
The Bicolored is a hardy cat, the result of a good deal of mixed breed-
ing across lines. It is, in this sense, like a mongrel in the dog world at
ease with itself and not bred to a fineness or high-strung quality.
It is solid,
hardy, long-lived.
The standard with most registering bodies is a combination of any solid
color and white; no more than two-thirds of the coat should be colored and
no more than half white. The color areas should be clearly defined and
even. The eyes are round, set well apart, and deep orange or copper.
Coat and Body Structure
The coat is like that of the Persians, and it needs careful and frequent
grooming. Its appearance should be of clearly defined color patterns, with
good contrasts. Texture is silky, like feathering, with frill and tail full. The
body, resting on solid and short legs, should be massive, full, giving the ap-
pearance of solidity and strength.

History and Origin
Although Burmese in origin, the Birman, which is long-haired, should
not be confused with the Burmese cat, which is short-haired and otherwise
quite different. Many legends have grown up about the Birman, including
one that made the breed the sacred cat of the Temple of Lao-Tsun. The
breed as we know it did not begin to develop in the Western world until
after the First World War; it almost disappeared after the Second World
War and was then revived in the 1960s, a period of great activity in cat
breeding. It was recognized in the United States in 1967.
The Birman is noted for its easygoing personality;
it is affectionate, a
good family cat, intelligent, and loving.
It also shows well, since it is not
The standard for North America is the seal, the blue, the chocolate,
and the lilac, with points, respectively, seal, slate, cinnamon, and laven-
der. The eyes should be blue, as deep as possible and even tending toward
Coat and Body Structure
The coat fur should be silky and long, with the belly hair curled some-
what. The neck should be well ruffed. The body is stocky and strong; the
front paws with five toes, the hind four. Overall, the breed conveys the
sense of solidity; the head is also full and flattening out above the eyes.
History and Origin
The Black is one of the oldest and most desirable of the long-hairs,
though for some time in the nineteenth century it was quite
rare. From the first, the difficulty came in trying
to obtain the distinctive coat: black, flow-
ing, and of sufficient length. To gain
that combination, it proved necessary
to breed by outcrossing; that is, in order to produce
a Black, a black-coated
cat was bred with a blue (dam or sire), or with a tortoiseshell, cream, and
even red and silver Tabbies, In the United States, beginning at the turn of
the century, the Black proved very popular.
Even with its luxuriant, flowing appearance, the Black is a gentle and
easygoing breed. The males are recommended as studs, and as pets both
sexes prove mild and affectionate.
The coat must be black to the roots, lacking any shading, rustiness, or
striping or markings. The eyes are orange or copper-colored, without any
green rim.
Coat and Body Structure
The coat is long and flowing and requires regular grooming, or else it
will appear "worn" or off-color. The body is full, cobby, and solid, with a
broad head. Despite its size, the Black should look graceful.
(Known in the United States as the Blue Persian)
History and Origin
The Blue or Blue Persian has proven to be a very popular breed, and,
except for the Siamese, is the most shown of the pedigreeds. The basic
breed for the Blue derived from Turkey, probably, and was once referred
to as Angora. This breed was of somewhat a sleeker and smaller size than
the Persian. By means of extensive breeding, self-colors (solid colors) were
developed, although the process took a long time. By the latter part of the
nineteenth century, at the Crystal Palace show in 1889, the Blue had
emerged as a self color, without any tabby or white markings. The popular-
ity of the Blue was enhanced by Queen Victoria s ownership of one, and
continued ownership by royalty (the "royal Blue") kept the breed in de-
mand. It became popular in the United States after the turn of the century,
and has only recently begun to fade somewhat. In breeding, Blues are nee-essary to produce the Blue-Cream, by mating with a Cream female. This
type of cross-mating is necessary, as the Blue-Cream males are usually
The Blue has plenty of personality, enjoying attention, and, in fact,
demanding it. It enjoys being made a fuss over and enters into the life of
the family.
There should be.no white markings or shadings; the coloring should be
solid and even, The eyes are deep orange, and should be large and round,
not deep-set.
Coat and Body Structure
The coat should be thick, very long, and soft, giving the appearance of
a fur frill. It requires no special grooming procedures, however. The body
now preferred as a standard follows the Persian: broad head, small ears,
massive, cobby body all giving the sense of fullness but not coarseness or
History and Origin
Not until the late 1920s was the Blue-Cream recognized in Britain and
not until 1931 in America. The controversy surrounding the recognition of
the breed had to do with the color patterning,
since the Blue-Cream was
often referred to as a Blue Tortoiseshell, not as a definite breed. The red-
dish quality of the Tortoiseshell must be avoided, or else the Blue-Cream is
not clearly defined. The typical mating is of a Blue and a Cream to produce
the breed, usually female, for males are very rare and, when born, are
themselves usually sterile.