Cat Breeds: It’s a Mashup

In analysing the differences between the cat breeds using DNA testing, I am compelled to come to the conclusion that it’s all a mashup. Nothing is what it seems. Everything is blurred and grey without clean distinctions. The breeds, themselves, have a different and distinct appearance – they have to, to be a cat breed – but at a DNA level there are some strange groupings and overlaps, but not much in the way of distinctive traits. I have written about the Persian which has no connection with Persia. This page goes a bit further.

I am using information from Sarah Hartwell’s site which in turn is based on scientific studies – all good sources. Ms Hartwell summarises information from the studies. When you read her article everything becomes a blur. If you try to find a handle on the subject, a pattern or some sense, you fail.

Cat Breed Mashup

Cat Breed Mashup. Photos of cats are copyright Helmi Flick. The mash potatoes are from iStockphoto (bought).

So, other than the Persian, what examples of a “cat breed mashup” are there? Below is a selection. I’ll start with a breed that is more or less how I like it.


One cat breed at least makes a bit of sense: the Sokoke. This is a rare cat breed that breeders say comes from the region of the Sokoke Forest in Kenya, Africa. Well, surprise, surprise, this breed is closely related to moggies (random bred cats) from the Kenyan islands of “Lamu and Pate group”. Where are these?  Well Lamu is an island that is about 150 kilometers north of the Arabuko Sokoke Forest. I find that interesting because at least it is somewhere near the forest but why isn’t it the Sokoke Forest itself? At least we are near Kenya. That is a result. Another scientist, Kurushima et al (2012), says the Sokoke cat is associated with the region around the Indian/Arabian Sea. That would include Kenya, it seems to me, but it also includes many other countries and places. It is vague.

Egyptian Mau

There is a lot of folklore surrounding this cat breed. It is said to be related to ancient Egypt.

The Egyptian Mau was worshipped by pharaohs and kings.. (CFA breed profile)

Yet DNA testing concludes that the Egyptian Mau is related to Turkish and Tunisian random-bred cats, with European influences. It is a bit like a recipe from the kitchen. This breed has been grouped with the Russian Blue, Siamese, Korat and Abyssinian cats and “clustered” with American Turkish Angoras and Turkish Vans, but not a sign of anything ancient or Egyptian. Where is that ancient, exotic blood; the connection with the pharaohs that we crave? If you want to see an Egyptian Mau go to Cairo and look at a grubby, spotted, persecuted street cat instead.


This cat breed has a tenuous connection with Burma. I doubt whether you’ll find a Birman in Burma. We are told that the Birman was imported into France in 1920 or thereabouts, in the form of one male and one female, but after than things become grey, very grey. The male cat died, which left things up in the air. The surviving female and her daughter were mated with other cat breeds such as the Siamese.  Then along came WWII which meant the breed had to be recreated again. In America, a couple of “Tibetan temple cats” were imported into the country. We’re told they were Birmans. They were crossed with other breeds. It’s another mashup. The Birman is meant to be a Burmese cat but is no longer.

Japanese Bobtail

I’ll end on the famous Japanese Bobtail. This is another cat with a long history, supposedly, of evolution within Japan and a long standing connection with the country. We are told that it has been in Japan for over a thousand years, being imported from China in the 6th century.

Well, put your preconceptions aside, the modern Japanese Bobtail is more closely related to European and American cats than the cats of Southeast Asia. This is because of that wonderful process called “selective breeding“.


These are personal views and I could be wrong. The desire to create new cat breeds – there are too many, in my opinion – from a domestic cat that looks pretty much the same throughout the world has resulted in losing what distinctions there were between cats of certain regions.

However, what has happened is to be expected. Little attention and respect has been paid to the origins of the modern cat breeds. It has all been about what breeders fancied. There are many other examples in addition to the ones I have selected.

The overwhelming conclusion, for me, is that the cat breeds are a mashup, to use modern parlance; modern breeding and modern concepts coming together to erase what history and distinctions there were amongst the “natural cat breeds”. I think it is a shame from a purely commercial standpoint. The cat fancy would have done better financially and gained more respect, if it had been more honest and respectful of the domestic cat.

Note: if someone wants me to address some more breeds just ask.

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Cat Breeds: It’s a Mashup — 59 Comments

  1. Is it just me but I would have guessed something similar anyway. People have travelled the world for ages and cats that are connected by land are free to move around. How could there not be a mash up. The real question is which ones are more related to some kind of wild cat or was it a gradual mix and mash. Which cats first began to spend time with humans. If anything, particular geographical origins of breeds of cats must represent simply moggies settling down in said area and making it their home and slowly evolving off in their own direction thus creating a ‘breed’. Perhaps the nature of a certain breed is based on the physical geography of where it’s ancestors settled.

    It’s just like humans really. We all know how similar humans are and we seem to think we know the origin of humans and we know there are different kinds of humans in all shape, colours and sizes – it’s the same right?

    The real ingredients to create a breed if you could go back in history would be to take some cats to an island and see them develop over the centuries on that island into a certain kind of cat – separate from the rest of the world – and there is your ‘breed’. But like humans they all must have come from similar or the same animal.

    Or did I miss something? It’s confusing.

    • That picture made me fancy a plate of mashed potatoes – it looks yummy – it just needs a good dose of pepper to make it perfect 🙂

    • No, you missed nothing. All domestic cats are the same except where you get evolution over centuries in a island population. Then you might get some slight individuality at a DNA level. I am not sure.

      It would have been nice if there was some originality in the DNA of the individual cat breeds. If cats from a certain area such as Japan had been left alone and simply made a bit prettier through very limited selective breeding wouldn’t it have been possible to end up with a cat breed that had some connection to the place where it is meant to come from?

      Then the history of the breed would make sense. At the moment we can forget about the history of individual cat breeds. It’s just a mashup.

  2. The revolting part of all of this is that breeders still claim their cats are pure as proved by the pedigrees, when in actual fact the genetic evidence is proof of falsification of those pedigrees. In the case of the Turkish Angora genetics show little or no relationship between the pedigree American TA and bona fide samples from the Ankara Zoo and Turkey. To seemingly overcome this little problem Professor Leslie Lyons mysteriously plucked several samples of Turkish random-bred cats out of thin air which amazingly tallied exactly with the American Angoras. Lyons et al conclusion that “2) The Turkish Angora breed contains the most representative cats of Turkey” is based on fictitious samples. At the same time the real samples from Turkey sent in by reputable breeders were either overlooked or cunningly obfuscated as Cyprus group cats This, the 2012 Turkish Cat Genetics Study was never published in any official scientific magazine or document, whereas several other studies by the same author and co-workers were published. These latter studies reveal a quite different story and include phylogenetic trees which show that American cat fancy Turkish Vans and Angoras are indeed related but to mostly West European and American domestic cats, not Turkish. This is in line with the widespread unscientific and unethical practices of the cat fancy. Their pure-bred cats are the exact opposite of pure and the ironic twist is that the moggies they so despise are actually very pure genetically and excellent representatives of their breed such as the free-born British SH and the sokak kedileri (Turkish Angoras) of Turkey and Cyprus.
    Sarah Hartwell’s critique of this mess can be found at.-

    Sometimes the excuse is given that pedigree cats are man-made and selectively bred to conform to desired requirements. What is forgotten is that certain breeds such as the Turkish Angora and Turkish Van are not man-made breeds but naturally occurring breeds in their country of origin, and no out-crosses are permitted. The CFA and TICA breed profiles are very clear about that. In other words this genetic proof of massive out-crossing is clear grounds for the disqualification of the lot of them.

    • Exactly – according to their own rule book they must disqulify themselves because their breeds have false ‘origins’. They are man made modern breeds and the cat fancy should change the way they put it and say that the breeds are modern and man made and they can stick to their rules according to that. Its not right to go around telling the world that these cats are somehow ‘original’ if they are not. It makes them look very stupid and hypocritical.

  3. If by some miracle the cat registries do change the breed description to that of man-made breeds, not naturally occurring, then I don’t think they can continue using the names Turkish Angora or Turkish van. These names are already in use in the country of origin. In any case the presentation of their concocted breeds is a matter of falsification and copyright violation.

  4. The discussion about Turkish Angora/ Turkish van interests me in part b/c of a cat I photographed in Morocco. Its looks, esp. head shape, were different that other cats I’d seen. It seemed like it might be related to the Turkish Angora or Turkish van breeds, just from looking at some pix on the internet. Based on this discussion, that would be wrong b/c the “cat fancy” name.

    I did post the pic (to a flickr group) asking for input, but got no comments. I can’t figure out how to post a photo here, but here is the flickr link:

    I’d be very interested to have input from Harvey, Michael, or whomever… does its look ring any bells as to cat types in the areas you’ve been discussing re: the real Turkish cats?

    including this link in case it might bring up the picture

    Update: Michael added the photo:

    Shop cats in Sidi Mimoun Marrakech

    • Hi VG. The best way to add photos from your Flickr account is to use the Flickr embed code. Just copy and paste it into the comment, which is what I did. However, you can never delete the original Flickr photo or your Flickr account otherwise the picture will disappear 😉

      Harvey is very knowledgeable on the origin of the domestic cat species especially the Turkish Angora and cats of that area. Thanks Harvey for your input.

      About the cat in the picture

      The word I used to describe the breeds – Mashup – applies really. For pedigree purebred cats it shouldn’t have happened in my opinion. But for moggie street cats, as Marc says, we have to expect a mashup over time but there are some distinctions region to region. When you have cats transported with traders all over the world from the point of the first domestic cats east of the Mediterranean you will get a mashup of genes and the cat in the picture is an example. I see a nice looking bicolor cat with a bit of tabby (faint M on forehead). The head markings are van-like. There is some classic Turkish Van in her it seems to me but I am not sure where that leaves us. I suppose it might mean that this cat has Turkish cat influences, which would not be surprising.

      It is difficult to talk about types of cats in regions of the world because there is a blurring of the boundaries. There are some faint distinctions but that is about it.

      • Michael, I did try to add the photo by using the Flickr embed code, but it didn’t work for me. That is what I was referring to as “second link”. I copied and pasted the link, but it just didn’t show up.

        Thanks for adding the photo.

      • Michael, thanks for comments about the cat in the picture. Apart from the markings, it was the head/ jaw shape that intrigued me, b/c it was unusual compared with the other Moroccan cats I saw. But, I get your point- not sure where this gets us!

  5. Hi Michael!

    We are so glad you extended this topic further.

    Out thoughts on this topic:

    Michael wrote:

    ”The desire to create new cat breeds – there are too many, in my opinion – from a domestic cat that looks pretty much the same throughout the world has resulted in losing what distinctions there were between cats of certain regions.”

    In certain regions natural cat breeds still can be found, but again differences are just too small (cat fancy wants extreme differences, natural breeds will not have them). Most of cats no matter from which country and region it comes from look like normal CATS. Breeders often call this ”moggie” look but this is a look of the CAT in general.

    Michael wrote:

    ”The cat fancy would have done better financially and gained more respect, if it had been more honest and respectful of the domestic cat”.

    Yes, but cat fancy itself is something what shouldn’t need to exist in first place. Cat fancier’s logic relies on differences between cats which they identify as ”breeds”. The random bred cats are seen as inferior. Sure no breeder will agree, but the fact that certain cats they call ”breeds” somehow seen more privileged and worth to breed and being shown, while those freeborn ones are seen as homeless pets, which should be neutered in all cases and put to shelters… So what makes one cat worth more than others?

    I have seen some photos from Southeastern Asian cats. They had some interesting colors like chocolate and pointed varieties and appeared slender than cats in Turkey and Europe. However there were some photographs from other cats in the area which looked pretty much usual. We should never make conclusions about the natural breeds from seeing a few cats and some selective photographs of them. There is a lot of diversity within the natural breed. Moroccan cat looks like a cat you would see in Turkey, maybe the angle of photo taken was unusual. In Turkey, I can see variety of looks in our cats. They all belong to the same breed however. Look is determined by very few genes that usually say very little what the breed cat belongs to. After all as accepted by DNA studies, all domestic cats come from Middle Eastern wildcat – lybica. Cat breeds term does not equal to word ”species”. Those are just varieties of the domestic cat.

    Harvey said

    ”Turkish Angora and Turkish Van are not man-made breeds but naturally occurring breeds in their country of origin”

    Let me correct you. Turkish Van is not a breed in Turkey; It’s the same Angora cat! Turkish Van is the same nonsense like Turks think white cats are Van cats while the only difference is a colour of fur which doesn’t decide a breed. No cat breed can have such a limited colours like ”Van pattern” or being recognized only as grey, black, white etc. Cat colours are very old mutations and they spread everywhere and found in almost all cats with a few exceptions like pointed chocolate which are not found in Turkish cats,for example.

    Lastly: maybe we need to rethink the cats we call ”moggies”. Scientific evidence shows us that there is no such a thing as impure mixed cat – most of cats belong to certain random bred varieties found in some geographical areas. Some may be something in between (like European ”race” with some Anatolian expected in Moroccan random bred cats or let’s say, Tunisian cats which are something like 70 % of European and 30 % Anatolian).

    We have either random bred cats or cats which are man made.

    Let’s hope our association will get more support about the work on natural cat breeds. We know our ideas are quite revolutionary and won’t makes us rich 🙂 It’s all about the truth…
    We would be pleased to do some scientific research on natural cat populations around the world.

    Maybe one day… 🙂

    Warm Regards from Turkey

    • One day, I’ll come and visit you because we think in exactly the same way. We should meet.

      Firstly, I always agree with what you say because, as far as I am concerned, it is always correct. We have to be honest to recognise that.

      In certain regions natural cat breeds still can be found, but again differences are just too small (cat fancy wants extreme differences, natural breeds will not have them). Most of cats no matter from which country and region it comes from look like normal CATS. Breeders often call this ”moggie” look but this is a look of the CAT in general.

      Totally true and correct. People cannot make cat breeds from the existing domestic cats unless you make (create) breeds from genetic mutations such as hairless cats and dwarf cats etc..

      There are no natural cat breeds. There are just domestic, feral and stray cats. Breeds should not be made out of genetic mutations. In which case, there are no cat breeds, which is what you are saying. fancy itself is something what shouldn’t need to exist in first place…

      Yes. The cat fancy is a human invention, for humans and about humans at the expense of the cat.

      ..So what makes one cat worth more than others…?

      The most valuable cats are the cats that need our help. Ignore everything else.

      ..there is no such a thing as impure mixed cat…

      Agreed because the so called pedigree, purebred cats are probably less pure than the persecuted feral cat on the streets of some unknown town in an unknown place.

      My Best Wishes from London, England.

  6. Marc said: ”Its not right to go around telling the world that these cats are somehow ‘original’ if they are not. It makes them look very stupid and hypocritical”.

    Cat fancy makes rules… and breaks them at the same time…
    Not so smart, but since nobody cares to show what is the truth , cat fancy will get away with lies… Persian is also classified as a ”natural” breed. Natural breed!? ABSURD…

    Kind Regards

    • Persian is also classified as a ”natural” breed. Natural breed!? ABSURD…

      Yes….. love you guys because you tell the truth, the way it is.

    • It makes them look very stupid and hypocritical…..

      I really hate to say it (and I truly mean that) but the cat fancy is stupid. Note: don’t misunderstand me. I respect people but for me the cat fancy screwed up big time. There was no foresight and strategy. Nor was there much in the way of ethics and cat welfare. 80% of the litters of the contemporary Burmese have a congenital defect! True. It is a disaster of selective breeding focusing on appearance.

  7. Hi Michael
    ” There are no natural cat breeds. There are just domestic, feral and stray cats. Breeds should not be made out of genetic mutations. In which case, there are no cat breeds, which is what you are saying.”
    I think this statement needs to be tidied up a bit.
    Most people may think that this means there are no naturally occurring cats, only cat fancy breeds and those that have escaped and run wild. This misconception couldn’t be further from the truth.
    Cat fancy breeds are derived from naturally occurring cat populations which have existed for many years in some cases with little influence from humans especially in regard to selecting for type. Their relationship with humans is on the cat’s own terms. The relationship was symbiotic in the same way that birds and other small animals helped humans by controlling insect and vermin populations. The freeborn cats of Turkey continue to this day to live and procreate pretty much in the same way as they did prior to the agricultural revolution only that now they include food from human sources on their menu, and find shelter near to humans. These are not pets that have escaped. It is more accurate to say they are wild cats that may be adopted as pets with varying degrees of success. They have existed for millennia long before humans even knew about them, and are true naturally occurring cats (not breeds). I know cat fancy people find it hard to understand this because of their particularly artificial mindset. They can only visualise breed cats and escaped pets, and wild untameable felid species, and have no conception of geographical areas where cats have always lived freely but have learned to tolerate human presence to varying degrees. Furthermore a cat has a flexible mentality. It is able to transfer it’s kitten-to-mother reflexes and instincts to a human that behaves pretty much as it’s feline mother did, by feeding and protecting it. This is the secret of domestication. Extended kitten-hood.

  8. ”Yes….. love you guys because you tell the truth, the way it is.”

    Thank you, Michael. We really love your website. It’s educational, democratic and inspirational.

    Our priority is a research. Never one sided view, no biases. We do promote the Angora cats but avoid any unproven exaggerated claims. We don’t sell lies. We also want to encourage people to think critically. The truth isn’t easy to find, and still there are many things we don’t know. Science doesn’t always answer the questions and it’s still so less is done on cats in general.

    We care about all random bred freeborn cats. The Angora cats are just one example.

    Like you, we don’t like to offend people, there are breeders who are great people, and some of them are our friends. But we can’t look to this issue focusing on individuals and feelings.

    Let’s be honest, cat fancy is stupid and superficial.
    We often ask the question: what cat fancy has ever done for cats in general? So far no one was able to answer this… Then follows a deeper question we should ask themselves and other people: ”do we need cat fancy?” It doesn’t seem lives of cats would be anyhow effected if some people stopped breeding the cats they believe are special breeds… And cat shows don’t seem to be important events either.

    ”One day, I’ll come and visit you because we think in exactly the same way. We should meet”.

    You are always welcome here, Michael. You are a good person. I believe there are many things we could learn from each other.

    ”In which case, there are no cat breeds, which is what you are saying”.

    Yes. We don’t need cat breeds, do we? Cat breeds are like label or brand-name. They devalue the CAT, reducing to some kind of commodity that looks nice or plain weird… sadly some people buy ”purebred” cats for fairy tales/myths (”swimming cat” even if doesn’t swim, still sounds good!) Those fairy tales are basically ”breed’s history”. May seem innocent, but still lies.

    ”The cat fancy is a human invention, for humans and about humans at the expense of the cat.”

    Agree. This is the conclusion we have made, when we refused to play according to the rules of cat fancy. I am glad you think the same.

    ”The most valuable cats are the cats that need our help. Ignore everything else.”

    Yes. Like you said ”There was no foresight and strategy. Nor was there much in the way of ethics and cat welfare.” Cat fancy does not care about the welfare. Sure in their websites they write that they are concerned about all cats and so on, but it is written just to make themselves look good. And ethics… How is it ethical to breed the cats which wouldn’t able survive without humans outside? And what about the genetic defects associated with a particular looks? Why take a risk?

    ”Agreed because the so called pedigree, purebred cats are probably less pure than the persecuted feral cat on the streets of some unknown town in an unknown place.”

    If purity means being a representative of a natural ”breed”, then yes. But even so it doesn’t seem to be important. Some cat populations may overlap different varieties of random bred cats. This is also OK.

    Think about how widely European cat can be found… it extends almost all Europe if we believe what DNA studies teach us. And The Angora is not only in Turkey probably seen in some areas in Middle East as well. Nobody can sell a cat which is free, this is why almost nobody cares about them.

    But we do care…

    Best Wishes from Izmir, Turkey

  9. Harvey Harrison: Yes, correct. Natural breeds/varieties do exist, but they are just a few known. The differences between them are small.

  10. Hi Michael. These poor Burmese and others are examples of what those breeders with their particularly artificial mindset can do. In contrast there is the example of my Suleiman of completely natural origins who as a kitten sailed through contact with an unrelated panleucopenia infected mother and kittens without even a sneeze or sniffle. That poor mother was brought to my house in Costa Rica by a well-meaning but hopelessly incompetent animal shelter worker who swore that she had been vaccinated ” like all the shelter cats”. She and her 2 kittens died as well as 2 of 5 kittens from a different litter. The survival rate of 60% is extremely rare with this usually 100% fatal disease and testament to the robust immune system of natural cats. Suleiman’s mother and sire were likewise totally unaffected. I later learned that all kittens and un-vaccinated cats brought to that shelter usually died. I also learned that they never used any kind of disinfectant at the shelter on the grounds that disinfectants were bad for the cats. Perhaps they thought that diseases were good for them. In fact they had this policy so that they wouldn’t have to spend money on their upkeep! I never went near that place ever again.

  11. Harvey Harrison: ”Most people may think that this means there are no naturally occurring cats, only cat fancy breeds and those that have escaped and run wild. This misconception couldn’t be further from the truth”.


      • I don’t know if a word ”breed” fits here. Those are random bred varieties.

        From Leslie A. Lyons studies: European cats, Anatolian/Eastern Mediterranean (later discarded and ignored maybe because no USA cat breeds are originated from them), (Southeastern) Asian cats are identified as distinct cat populations.

        There may be some more we don’t know about.

        The study ”The Near Eastern Origin of Cat Domestication”(Driscoll, Raymond; 2007; Fig. 2. B) recognizes these types of domestic cats: Asiatic, Mongolian, European and Near Eastern (this is where the Angora belongs; Near Eastern wildcats and domestic cats are shown in the same group).

        • wow you really have alot to say and it all makes alot of sense. It’s far from being my field of knowledge but I agree with everything you say. I hope you can write a book or make some kind of presentations to the world because of your valuble insight especially with the cats of your region. The cat fancy should be asking you questions but I guess we know that won’t happen soon. But people in the world should know the reality of all of this before they decide they want to buy a pure bred cat of some kind.

          It’s clearly a huge area of knowledge and history that needs to be completely redefined. Thanks for sharing. I really think you have got the right handle on all of this.

          Are you writing a book? I have seen your fantastic website too by the way.

          • It makes you think that the cat fancy is a human fabrication. A chimera…meaning an impossible fancy or a wild illusion for the entertainment of humankind at the expense of nature….Maybe it is.

          • Thank you dear Marc, for your kind words.

            Yes, we are planning to write a book.

            Of course, all of these comments will be forgotten. Nobody will read them…

            All our research (based on existing scientific studies, critical thinking, regularly updated) will be published in our association’s website –
            At the moment there are just a few people who are involved in this project. Anybody can contribute to this. We don’t care only about the Anatolian cats/the Angoras, its about ALL cats.

            We are still working on The ”Turkish Van” article and the next one will be about the random bred cats, genetics etc and the reality of those so called ”breeds”.

            Michael and others: Thank you for your support and encouragement.

            • That is great news. It is a book I would be interested in. Your personal knowledge of the situation regarding the Anatolian/Angora cats probably serves as a very good model for other so called ‘original breeds’. By decoding and reiterating the entire situation around the Turkish cats in relation to popular belief as has been created by the cat fancy you probably make light the same situation happening with the so called original cats of other regions. It’s most probably happening all over – as is made clearer by the studies referred to in this article.

              In a way it sounds like a situation where in simple terms what is ineeded is a sort of revolution against the authority of the cat fancy by way of making light of all of the misinformation and hypocrisy that it has created. The main problem being the loss of the real history and truth of the matter and the fact that people just regurgitate the gospel of the cat fancy as if it were truth. I just read a section on your site that talks about some doctor being taken for an expert talking about Angoras as if he were reading straight from the cat fancy manual. It would be sad if the real history of the origins of cats was to be totally lost.

              I really hope you work and your book gets catapulted right into the middle of everything for all to read and see for themselves.

      • Michael et al., I am now confused. I had the impression from what I think you have said in the past that Maine coons, Norwegian Forest Cats, and Siberian cats are “natural breeds.”

        And thanks everyone, this is a fascinating discussion.

        • They are “natural breeds” or we are told they are. The trouble is, at heart, they are just moggies like any other cat ;). The cat fancy made them into a “cat breed” (a cat that looks different to other cat breeds but is not really). The Norwegian Forest Cat is a Norwegian long haired moggie. It still is. The Maine Coon is a long haired English moggie. The Siberian is a Russian moggie. The cat fancy separated them out into breeds when in fact they are random bred cats from different parts of the world but with the same origins – a place just east of the Mediterranean. There is little to separate them in appearance and at a DNA level I doubt there is any difference.

          When scientists classify wild cat species they look for slight differences in DNA. All cat breeds are the classified the same as all domestic, feral and stray cats anywhere in the world: felis silvestrus catus.

          • Thanks for the response Michael.

            I think I understand now, but correct me if I am wrong. If one uses the word “breed” it means breed in the context (only there) of “the cat fancy”. “Natural breed” = such b/c of the cat fancy. That is the context of the phrase “natural breed”.

            Let me quibble, there has to be some difference at a DNA level. But vanishingly small. One of the things that scientists have noted is the very very small difference at the DNA level between humans and our closest primate relatives. I’d have go back and find the articles, as I can’t remember the details, but at the time, the finding was quite a shock to human scientists!

            • Yes, I agree with what you say. The idea of a cat breed is a cat fancy invention. There are small differences at a DNA level between some breeds but, as I say in the article, it is a mashup of confusion.

              • Yes – so the underlying point of all of this is that the word ‘breed’ isn’t what it seems and it is a word whose meaning needs to be updated according to what we know from studies such as the one referred to in the article. Infact the word breed is perhaps a term created by the cat fancy in this context for the purpose of marketing their creations. It’s sort of like saying ‘package’ in busines or phone contract terms. They are trying to sell a ‘package’ or ‘breed’ which is based on a simple list of criteria. Nothing more, nothing less. All business.

  12. Hi Michael. The “natural breeds” you mentioned. Maine Coon, Norwegian Forest, Siberian are in the process of becoming cat fancy breeds. They all derive from the naturally occurring West European cats which due to being subjected to certain natural selection processes which according to the cat fancy developed somewhat different characteristics which they seize upon to create 3 new new breeds. They are all genetically identical but then the cat fancy gets to work and decides that Norwegian Forest has a straight nose, the Maine Coon is bigger and has large pointed ears, etc. and so begins the process of manipulation which will inevitable lead to some kind of fake creation totally different from the original natural cats, but they will still call them a natural breed. You would not believe the hostility and insults we get from Turkish Angoras breeders when we try to introduce some logic and ethics into breeding the Turkish Angora. As you mentioned they don’t even respect their own rules and are aggressive and threatening with people who do. I am not the least bit impressed or intimidated by them. I am winning. .

    • Hi Harvey, thanks for all your contributions to this fascinating discussion.

      Niggle- alas, those three breeds are firmly part of the cat fancy, way past “in the process of becoming…”. And, as I told Michael, they can’t be genetically identical, though the differences may be vanishingly small.

      I have a Maine coon polydactyl “rescue cat”. I found her online and adopted her at 6 yo. Because I asked for her “pedigree”, I learned the cattery of origin, and where she went from there. From original cattery, to local cattery, to private home, then to “rescue”. I contacted the original cattery saying “I have one of your cats”. That information was conveyed to the local breeder, who was shocked that she had been put into rescue, instead of being returned to her.

      I went to one cat show, and one only, so that I could meet the local breeder. After that interaction my conclusion was “well, I wouldn’t have returned my girl to you either”. I’m not saying I know why she was put into rescue, all I’m giving was my reaction.

  13. Hi Michael. But the 3% genetic variance between humans and chimps contains extremely important genes that make a world of difference.

    • Hi Harvey- so, your memory of 3% is the same as mine. I am not quite sure if your comment had an element of snark to it, that is, tongue in cheek. I suspect so. Correct me if I am wrong. I mean, if 3% means a world of difference between chimps and humans, and it seems to, then the difference in genetic makeup of different cats has to be, let me approximate, one-gazillion % less than that between chimps and humans.

  14. Hi Valley Girl. Yes they have been recognised as natural breeds for many years but what I meant was that the cat fancy will soon or has already started to work on them and change then into non-natural breeds. I have seen Maine Coons with close -set erect ears rather like the fake American Angora. Sadly the cat registries don’t seem to give a damn about any manipulation or even check that breeding is as stated. Who knows what they will end up like. probably the same will happen to them like the TA, so changed that the original genuine ones are no longer accepted as representative of the breed. Your rescued Coonie finally had a lucky break. Too many people want everything too easy and looking after a cat would take them away from more important things like watching soap operas and eating doughnuts.

    • In fairness to the person who put my girl up for adoption, I gather that she was in ill health, and could no longer care for her two MCs.

      What really shocked me was my interaction with the rescue agency. Ms. Cat had been stated to be FIV FeLV negative on the petfinder ad. At the very end of the adoption process the rescue person (actually the person who was in charge of the rescue place) said, ~ “oh, and we said she was FIV FeLV negative because she’s always been an indoor cat, but we actually haven’t had her tested. When you take her to the vet, if you find out she is FIV or FeLV positive, you can return her.”

      You cannot image (or probably you can) how pissed off I was, although I didn’t confront the person. I just wanted to get Tootsie home asap. Like I would return her, like she was a faulty lampshade or something? She was not FIV or FeLV positive, but the whole episode still makes me very angry. As a result, I concluded that there is a dark side to the “cat rescue business” as well.

    • p.s. Sorry, I wasn’t clear- what I meant was I don’t know why she was put up for adoption, rather than being returned to the local cattery.

      But, “cats as furniture” and get rid of them if they behave like cats has been a frequent topic of discussion at PoC.

  15. Hi Michael. Yes theory are all sub-species of certain small wildcats, but due to geographic isolation genetic differences have crept in and any genetic analysis will show clear difference. This enable cats from Turkey to be identified as such and other cats that may be registered as Turkish to be of non-Turkish origin. The fake Turkish Angoras are identified in the Kurushima study as being predominantly W European, and in the Ascent of Cat breeds as an Egyptian Mau and Tunisian street cat mix. The problem is that E Maus are not Egyptian, they are W European and the Tunisian cats are probably from France, so both studies coincide. Turkish cats have a distinct genetic marker which coincides with random bred cats in that specific geographic area. The science of genetics has caught up with those frauds. They can kick and squeal for all they want but they will not be let off the hook.

  16. Hi Valley Girl. Ha Ha. That genetic difference is nothing to do with just memory. It means that we share 97% of our genes with chimps but we have 3% that they don’t have. That 3% covers a wide range of differences from reasoning ability and general IQ to muscular strength, etc.
    The genetic difference between cats certainly must be very small but it is detectable and very useful in determining in which geographic area(s) a certain cat originated. Genetics can detect the difference between children from the same mother but different fathers. This is used with 100% certainty to settle paternity cases.

    • I meant that you knew the number 3%, and I that was what I remembered w/o doing the google.

      I see now that your comment wasn’t meant as snark, but I was confused because in a comment above you had said that MCs, NFCs and Siberians were genetically identical. Rereading your comment, let me try to unwrap this. Maybe you weren’t saying that the three “breeds” are genetically identical with each other, rather that each “breed” in and of itself is genetically identical. Still can’t be so, and reading your other comments I suspect you would agree.

  17. Hi Valley Girl. Yes it is often very unpleasant to learn what other people get up to, and pets are considered disposable items without importance or feelings. Yes, a person in ill health must first take care of him or herself, but don’t they say having a pet is healthy? I have heard that excuse before and it goes down very well in most cases. I have 30 cats to look after so i am not much impressed by people who can’t take care of just one or two despite some health problems. This is a natural “breed’ conservation effort on my part. I keep them away from mad spaying societies who have no understanding of rare cat conservation, or the difference between a Turkish Van and a furniture van.

  18. Hi Harvey,

    I tried to click on your name, hoping it would tell me more about your efforts. Alas..

    But, good for you. Have you written at PoC giving the details of your efforts?

    I am minor league compared to you. I rescued one cat. I do come from a “cat family” however. Always “moggies” ? ;). Always strays. Tootsie is the first “purebred” in the family lineage! I have to confess that I got fascinated by the silly personalities of MCs that I saw, looking at lots of YouTubes. I was not going to have another cat, ever, b/c of kitty loss grief, but then…

  19. Hi Valley Girl. They are genetically identical in that they all belong to the same breed group, the W European group. They don’t go deep enough to distinguish one individual from another, only that they belong to the same group. My cat from the Ankara Zoo and many others from Cyprus and Turkey were reported to be genetically identical because they have the same genetic markers. Would it be more useful to say very closely related like mother and son when dam and sire are also closely related ? You can see all my tribe on Facebook if you type-in vancats1938 Harvey Harrison on FB and send a friend request

  20. These fine differences are however very important. Without them we would not have been able to determine that the cat fancy Angora is unrelated to the original Turkish Angoras from the Ankara Zoo and Turkey. The pronounced physical differences are now backed up by genetic proof. Don’t underestimate these small genetic differences. They are crucial to our campaign to restore the genuine Turkish Angora. We all know that pedigrees can be and are used to legitimise fakes. The cat registries do not make enough effort to verify the information supplied to them when registering litters and new cats. If the information re Turkish Angoras were correct then the breed would suffer from very high inbreeding factor due to all being descended from very few foundation cats, but this is not the case. This alone should raise a red flag.

    • They are crucial to our campaign to restore the genuine Turkish Angora

      I am totally for what you are for 😉 The real TA is far better and “real”. I support all that you do. In a different world, though, with different attitudes or turning the clock back 170 years there would be no cat breeds at all. The idea of cat breeds is a relatively modern concept and it has led to a cat fancy that has been self-indulgent and short-sighted at the expense of the cat.

  21. Pingback: Angora Cat | Pictures of Cats

  22. I was thinking of creating a new traditional Persian cat breed called “MUMBAI PERSIAN CAT” but sadly my male stud cat “Matata” has proved to be the costliest “Stud cat Failure”!He just doesn’t know the method of mating and is now playing the role of the “Joker” in my house.Hilarious but true. Real life can be more bizarre than fiction.Seems every cat breeder of some repute is trying to create a new cat breed and i wonder where, when and how this craze would end.In India , the recently formed “Indian cat Federation” affiliated to the “World cat Federation” of Germany has plans to create a new local Indian breed called the “BILI( means cat in Hindi language)” from the local stray Indian cat.Below is a photo of handsome 5 year old tomcat “Matata”, the super flop stud cat.

      • Michael, he is a major headache for the house. At times he marks his territory in the house by spraying in his favourite places.Sometimes he also yowls at night.In fact he has become a nuisance and i do find difficulty in maintaining him in the house.My other cat, his dam “Matahari” is absolutely peaceful and a typical Persian cat in behaviour and character, docile, quiet.

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