How many cat breeds are there? The answer to the question depends on whether you want an absolute answer or an answer based upon what various cat associations accept as cat breeds. There are many cat associations each one with their own personal view on what to accept or reject as a breed. My research indicates that there are or were at least eight cat associations in America. As at 2023, the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) recognised 43 breeds (45 at June 4th, 2022). The International Cat Association (TICA) at June 4, 2022 accept 73 cat breeds.
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However, over my years of writing this website I can say that I have seen 104 cat breeds. Perhaps some of them have been “discontinued” but, certainly, the fact that certain cat associations accept to reject certain breeds means that they under-report the total number of cat breeds. They often reject breeds for reasons such as inherited health problems. They might feel that the breed should not have been created because of these health issues. For instance, both the CFA and TICA never accepted the dwarf cats of which there are 14 because of their inherited health issues and because it is ethically questionable to breed cats with dwarfism.
There may be other reasons such as the breed cannot be distinguished well enough from other cat breeds (e.g. the Ojos Azules). I have always felt that it is a criteria of a cat breed to be able to distinguish it clearly from others. This is quite a crowded marketplace. The era of great expansion of the cat breeds (mid 1950s) is over.
Many years ago, I took the trouble of preparing a short video which skims through 104 cat breeds – see below. It is not meant to be anything more than confirmation that this number of cat breeds exist. By all means, please visit the site more to read more about these cat breeds. All the information that you require is on this website.
Cat Associations based in Europe, the UK and Russia have different ideas about the cat breeds, different categorisation and different numbers of recognised breeds.
Wild cat hybrids are a bone of contention. Some people think they should not be cat breeds. At one time the people at the CFA believed this and didn’t accept the well-established Bengal cat for instance. Years ago, they changed their opinion. TICA being more adventurous accepted wild cat hybrids in principle.
The concept of cat breeds is interesting in a way. Any random bred cat can become a cat breed provided it is selectively bred and its parentage recorded (pedigree) and the created breed accepted by a cat association. That is how many cat breeds started anyway. The well-known Ragdoll cat comes to mind.
All cat breeds started life as moggies. At one time say in about the early to mid-1800s there were no cat breeds. Cat breeds therefore are a human-made creation and wholly artificial.
All cat breeds are one species of cat, Felis silvestris catus. And that species is a subspecies of the wild cat. Of course, it is domesticated.
You will get some feral cats in places such as Egypt that are possibly more purebred Egyptian Maus than the most purebred American Egyptian Maus. This is because selective breeding can disconnect a cat breed in the West from its origins in the Middle East for instance. And so, the Egyptian Mau in Egypt, perhaps in Cairo, as a stray cat is going to be more purebred possibly then those that have been created through selective breeding in America.
How many cat breeds are there? My guess is that there are or were probably about 120 cat breeds. There are far more dog breeds because the dog was first domesticated well before the cat and therefore there has been more time to develop dog breeds. The dog was considered utilitarian.
Hope this helps.
Below are some more pages on cat breeds.