Domestic Cat

domestic cat

Megan Photograph © Helmi Flick

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Introduction

I am writing about my favorite cat (probably), the good old moggy (moggie) or non-purebred cat or random bred cat. It is also sometimes described as a “mixed breed” cat. The last description is probably the least accurate as cat breeds are not usually involved. Although a purebred cat “mix” is a moggie and is often one removed from a purebred cat.

A moggie can technically, it seems, be pedigreed. Although all the show cat breeds are also domestic cats, for the vast majority of us the non-purebred is the cat with which we are most familiar. The word “moggie” can also mean a stray cat. The non-pedigreed or non-purebred domestic cat is my favorite because (s)he is the sort of cat that I have always lived with. This “type” of cat is also the most commonly encountered cat worldwide, by far, obviously.

It is interesting to think that the first domestic cat was a tamed wildcat. That domestic cat was a defacto purebred cat in my opinion as its parentage was pure wildcat; African or Eurasian wildcat. This is thought to have happened some 9,000 years ago. When domestic cats spread from Egypt thousands of years ago they were lean, moderate sized cats like the African wildcat. Over thousands of years these cats evolved, through random breeding into domestic shorthair (DSH) and long haired cats (DLH) – moggies.

Then at the end of the 19th century the very same moggies became purebred show cats through selective cat breeding under the auspices of the fledgling cat fancy in England. The domestic cat had gone full circle from a defacto purebred cat at the beginning of domestication, through random breeding and back through selective breeding to become purebred cats. In northern countries the DSHs developed cobby (less lean) bodies.

This cobby moggie became the British Shorthair cat. These random bred shorthaired cats were also the foundation stock for the American Shorthair cat when they were imported with the pilgrims. The imported longhairs, Angoras, became the Maine Coon it is thought. In warmer climates the evolution of the moggie turned towards leaner body shapes allowing for better heat loss. The fur became thinner and the downy undercoat disappeared.

These cats are now called “foreign” in shape. The Abyssinian cat is one such example of a foreign cat body shape. Yet other moggies became rare unusual cat breeds through mutations such as the rex cats (e.g. Devon Rex) and folded eared cats (Scottish Fold). Sometimes a new breed of cat was created from the starting point of two different types of non-purebred domestic cat. An example is the Ragdoll cat. There is still little difference in appearance between the Scottish wildcat and the tabby domestic cat. Might this be due to cross breeding, wildcat to domestic cat producing wildcat hybrids?

domestic cat moggie

Photo of Twist © Helmi Flick

domestic cat moggie

Photo of Kallie © Helmi Flick

Kallie and Twist are both tortoiseshell & white or calico cats.

The non-pedigreed domestic cat has, it is said, the most chance of being the healthiest as the “gene pool” from which (s)he stems is extremely wide (as wide as it is possible to be)1.

A purebred cat needs to be bred with a cat of the same breed or breeds (and sometimes moggies) that are allowed by the registries or cat associations. This results in a purebred cat but a narrower gene pool. However, in some feral colonies there may be inbreeding so it is not always the case that non-purebred cats are more healthy.

This potential conflict (purity of breed -v- health) is very much in the minds of breeders and associations and (effectively?) dealt with though a balanced approach to breeding including some widening of the gene pool (out crossing) when required at an early stage in development of the breed. This would make the cat non-purebred for a while but still a pedigree cat, however (see below).

domestic cat

Photo of Kallie © Helmi Flick

The word “moggie” apparently derives from the word “maggie” to describe old farmyard cows. This term came to be used in the cities to describe mangy, feral cats and then domestic cats generally. To an outsider there is a profusion of technical terms and some confusion about the meaning of the terms. There is an overlap in the use of the terms sometimes too.

This is a short video of some great looking mixed-breed cats. All the photographs are by and copyright, Helmi Flick.

Terminology

Purebred and Pedigree Cat from Michael Broad on Vimeo.

Purebred cat: a cat whose parents and grandparents are all of the same breed. There are then 3 generations in total of cats of the same breed. A purebred cat has to have the characteristics of a recognized breed. Pedigree cat: 3 generations of this cat must be registered with a recognized cat registry such as the Cat Fanciers Association – CFA (USA) or the GCCF (UK). The parents or grandparents need not necessarily be cats of the same breed.

The difference between these 2 terms is all about registration of the cat. Registries have different views on what is a breed.

Moggy: Technically, a non-purebred cat or moggy can be a pedigree cat on the above definition. The word pedigree meaning a recorded and registered history. In contrast, the ordinary domestic cat that we know has parents of, usually, unknown or mixed breed and there is usually no record. This cat is therefore neither purebred nor pedigree. In practice we think of purebred cats as pedigree cat as this will most often be the case (i.e. purebred cats are often registered). Likewise we think of non-purebred cats as non-pedigree cats, which is almost all the time, the case.

domestic mixed breed cat

Photograph of Bonkers © Helmi Flick.

A bicolor cat carrying the white spotting gene

The Moggy and Purebred – characteristics

The purebred cats have well defined appearances. One purebred domestic cat has to be distinguishable from another. The moggy is a domestic cat that has mixed parentage and so hasn’t got this attribute. This cat is usually a short haired (dominant gene) cat of various coat colors and has a standard body conformation. These are called DSH – domestic short hair cats. Although some purebred cats are allowed by the cat associations to have a very wide range of coat types and colours – an almost infinite number.

The purebred cat, particularly the top show cat, as illustrated by Helmi Flick on this website has an eye catching and highly attractive appearance. Not all pedigree or purebred cats are as amazing as some of the cats on this website though. The major variation in appearance of the random bred domestic cat comes from the variation in coat color and pattern, the most common, of which, is the tabby coated cat (and tabby and white). Another frequently encountered coat is the tuxedo (black with a white spot on the chest).

The white spotting gene affects very many cat breeds none more so than the mixed breed cat. A discussion on the solid and white cat coat and many other coats can be seen on a blogger subdomain to this site, POC Blog (please use the labels or the search facility). The following link will take you to a long list of posts on varioius cat coats (link opens in a new window). As mentioned there is a greater prospect (minimized with careful and considerate breeding) for ill health with purebred cats due to inherited health problems and narrow gene pool.

The non-purebred domestic cat has hybrid vigor. In short the purebred cat is more cosmetically attractive but the moggy more durable, in general. Here is a comment from a visitor about her moggies:

To all the cats I loved before… Pinkie, Hansje, William, Bruintje, Witje, Poes Paul, Lodevicus, Bibi, Tim-Tim, Tigri, Micky, Didibri, Bageera, Beauty, Oberon, Hopper, Simon ‘Bollie’ Bolivar, Snoopy, Timmie, Yaba, Smokkelpoes a.k.a. Smoes, all Moggies that I loved and loved me back. What’s so special about a cat that swims, behaves like a dog, listens to his name, or bonds with humans? All of my Moggies had characteristics that you will find with specific cat breeds. The difference between a Moggie and a purebred cat seems to be their uniqueness in looks and behaviour. None of my moggies looked exactly like any other cat (Moggie or Breed), none of my moggies behaved exactly like any other cat. Maria Clara (Netherlands)

domestic cat moggie

Photograph of Olive Oyl © Helmi Flick

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Registries and MoggiesTICA: Non-pedigrees. Moggies are known as Household Pets in the Cat Fancy. They do not need to be registered by the TICA to be shown at a TICA show.However, if you want to go on and win some rosettes in TICA shows, you should register with them and your Moggy will have to be “altered” (neutered or spayed). TICA say that Household Pets that have been altered are accepted for registration regardless of their appearance and parentage.GCCF: This registry (the biggest in the UK), call all unregistered cats with one or more parents who are unregistered, Household Pets. This will nearly always mean moggies, but of course could mean the purest of purebred cats that had a complete parentage history but who was simply unregistered.Household Pets can be shown at all shows and without a guiding standard are judged on condition and temperament. They have their own class at the Supreme Show. The Moggies that you see at the Supreme Show are very special looking cats much like the ones you see on this page.CFA: Thisregistry (the biggest at Jan 2008) has a Household Pet Class. Moggies can be shown without registration and if older than 8 months must be altered. There is no CFA standard (as is the case for all purebred cats) but they are judged on the things that count in the show world, such as disposition, unusual markings and overall uniqueness.Breeders

Of course there are none unless you factor in careless people who fail to neuter their cats.

You can pop down to the nearest rescue center and find the most beautiful moggy you saw and you will fall in love and spend a thousand precious and tender moments together over the long years ahead.



From Domestic Cat to Home page

Domestic cat – Sources:

  • 1. Cat Watching by Desmond Morris
  • CFA
  • TICA
  • myself


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Domestic Cat — 2 Comments

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