There will be no more new cat breeds. The number may even shrink. Some people would say the numbers should shrink. I believe that we can say with some certainty that we have more or less reached saturation point with respect to the number of different cat breeds.
There are at least 104 cat breeds all of which are listed with illustrations on this website. Many are on the fringes of the cat fancy. The world’s biggest cat association, the CFA, which is a register of cat breeds, recognize only 42 of them at the date of this post. The other large cat association TICA accept more (about 75), but still well short of the total. The behavior of these major cat associations informs us that there are already too many cat breeds chasing a slot on the purebred, pedigree cat registers.
The fact of the matter is that there is no room for more breeds. Also, there is probably a lack of appetite for more, both from cat breeders and the public.
Without wishing to state the obvious, a cat breed has to be different to another cat breed. It has to be physically distinguishable. The difference has, therefore, to be quite marked or obvious. There is already an over-population of Siamese-type cats that causes confusion with the buying public.
You could argue that a number of cat breeds should not exist because they are long haired or short haired versions of the primary cat breed. The Somali is a long haired Abyssinian and the Exotic Shorthair is a short haired Persian.
The true exotic cats, the wild cat hybrids, are under attack from local authorities. Some states in America ban high filial wild cat hybrids. For example New York city has banned the Savannah cat.
This chart shows the rise in cat breed creation, the peak years and decline:
It is clear that the middle of the 20th century was the peak for cat breed creation. Basically, there are four ways to create a cat breed:
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- “Discover” an interesting looking moggie in some far-off land and import it back to the West where you “refine” it through selective breeding to make it marketable to the public and acceptable to the cat associations. Classic examples are the Siamese and the much rarer Sokoke.
- Take one female cat from one breed and one male cat from another breed or a random bred cat. Mate them. Refine the product by inbreeding and voilà, you have a hybrid that is “new”. An example is the Bombay – a cross between a Sable Burmese with a black American Shorthair.
- Refine an existing moggie. The British Shorthair is an example.
- Moggie x moggie + selective breeding = purebred. This is how the Ragdoll started.