There will be no more new cat breeds

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 will be no more cat breeds
There will be no more cat breeds. Collage by Michael using Picasa 3.
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

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:

  1. “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.
  2. 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 voilร , you have a hybrid that is “new”. An example is the Bombay โ€“ a cross between a Sable Burmese with a black American Shorthair.
  3. Refine an existing moggie. The British Shorthair is an example.
  4. Moggie x moggie + selective breeding = purebred. This is how the Ragdoll started.

14 thoughts on “There will be no more new cat breeds”

  1. I dont see why there breeds when there are thousands and millions of normal and even Pedigrees dieing in Shelters around the world. It saddens me that alot of suffereing goes on for poor moggies. People should choose rescues already in shelters and not buy a pedigree.

  2. I hate what some breeders are doing to our beloved cats- Your words about the Persian are so on the money. They cannot breathe well- with that pushed in face- and I wonder how the exotic shorthair will fare..

    Some of the breeds created using “wild” cats still maintain that “wild” disposition. My vet doesn’t enjoy working with Bengals. While these cats are beautiful- I still consider them wild, with dispositions that can be downright dangerous at times.

    But I bet my bottom dollar that there will be “new” breeds- since some breeders are more interested in “new” than making sure that the health of the existing breeds are greatly improved. I must give kudos to the Maine Coon breeders, and others who put the health and disposition of their cats way in the forefront- above all.

    It grieves me that “mini” breeds are appearing. And the teacup cats give me the chills- their short little legs are downright disgusting.

    • If there are any new breeds they’ll have to shoehorn them between the existing ones. There is very little room left for a cat that looks sufficiently different to be called a new breed. It has all been done. It is like many other things that run out of steam. The craze for new breeds is over or almost over in my opinion.

  3. Is there a new breed coming out next year?

    This is an actual question I have been asked by a cat lover. Though what true cat lover would think of a cat as a fashion item with a new style each year? Was she collecting new breeds like other people collect stamps? Admittedly I collect information “as breeds happen,” but I’m a gene-geek.

    As a rescuer, I’ve came across quite young cats being traded in when the owner saw a different breed in the latest series of (insert product name) advertisements. A young and very stressed British Blue female, bought because of the Sheba ads, was traded in for a Chinchilla Persian seen on carpet advert. The owner didn’t actually admit this, she just claimed the British Blue was “dirty”. A year later, the Chinchilla was packed off for rehoming as the owner had seen a breed of dog on an advert. In the dog world, much the same happened with “handbag dogs” after the public saw a celeb carrying a small dog like a fashion item.

    Some eccentric breeders have treated their breeds as fashions, regularly launching a new breed. Ann Baker and her Ragdolls, Cherubims & Honeybears springs to mind. All too often her ads ended with “and a new breed coming soon!” (for the curious, the touted “coming soons” were the Little American and the Catenoid). Baker viewed her cats as commodities and sold breeding franchises. When she died, her other “breeds” mostly become the “RagaMuffin,” while the “coming soons” never materialised.

    I’ve worked with a number of breeders, especially those whose cats contain wildcat genes, helping to define goals and identify pitfalls so that their new breed has a sound gene pool and sound temperament. Sound breeding programmes progress, using lots of genetics theory rather than simply “let’s see what happens if we mate those two cats”. Far from creating this season’s new fashion, those breeders know it takes several years before they can show representative cats as “exhibition only.” Some breeds never even make it that far.

    Just like fashions, many new breeds fizzle out for some reason or another. Maybe they are too similar to an established breed. Maybe their genetic health is suspect. The California Spangled has come and gone. The Bristol never took off (in part due to the roaring success of the Bengal). The Singhalese wasn’t distinct enough. The British Savannah was near identical to the American Serengeti. The rather gorgeous Rexed Maine Coon fell foul of cat fancy politics.

    Just think how many unnecessary cats would be brought into the world to feed a demand for a “new breed next year.” What’s also worrying, is that a demand for novelty could lead to more extreme breeds – even stumpier Munchkins, wrinklier Sphynxes, even flatter-faced Persians. even longer-faced Orientals. Then comes pressure to update breed standards to reflect the “new look” (as previously happened with Persians and Siamese) … and if that happens, cat shows could well and truly cross the line and become freak shows.

  4. First off, Brilliant collage, Michael.

    Second, although I have a purebred Maine coon, I got her via rescue.

    I happened to be able to trace her journey from cattery to cattery to private home to rescue.

    I’ve been to one cat show, ever, because it was an opportunity to meet Tootsie’s owner (and I mean owner) from second cattery. In a prior series of emails, I contacted cattery #1 to say I have one of your cats… and she contacted cattery #2, and the person emailed me, saying that she couldn’t understand why Tootsie was put into rescue by private owner, because she would have been happy to take her back.

    Hmmm… I’m only speculating here, and wildly so, but having met person of cattery #2, I wouldn’t have returned Tootsie to her, myself.

    There was only one Maine coon breeder I talked to at the cat show whom I respected. Granted I didn’t talk to all. But, my strong impression was that most breeders are in the game for the sake of their own egos- kind of like people who enter their 5 year old girls for beauty contests. The breeders, imho, based on not so much evidence, often see/ treat cats as objects. And, the better the object, the better to reinforce their egos.

    Harking back to a prior topic, I say, with only a hint of jest, that cat breeders are likely more evil than cat strollers. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Good news. I was wondering as to what future specimen would the “ULTRA FACE PERSIAN” develop into once breeders and owners were fed up of seeing the same face at cat shows and hence wanting a “NEW DISCOVERY”! Seems that today the “Traditional Persian Cat” is rarer than the “Ultra-Faced Persian” simply because it is no more a “SHOW BREED SPECIMEN” and hence less patronized by Professional cat breeders in the west.Hope ultimately only three versions of the Persian cat are in place,1) Original traditional Persian cat. 2) Ultra-faced Persian cat 3)Short haired ultra-face Persian.Since i own Traditional Persian cats , hence a reference to this particular breed.

    • One day all Persians will be the more natural and far better Traditional Persian. For me, the ultra Persian – flat face – is a mistake, a human folly to the detriment of the cat ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Yes there are plenty of different cat breeds already.
    Instead of trying to breed more, people should be concentrating on ensuring that the many cats dying in Shelters for lack of homes are cared for instead of bringing more cats into a world where in many countries they are second class citizens.

    • I agree Ruth – it’s the same old boring argument that will always take precedence over any kind of breeding. Until cats are no longer homeless and being killed in the millions, every year, then what right do we have to breed more of themโ€ฆ We will probably be sitting here in 10 years making the same objection because it doesn’t look like the problem is going to ever be solved. It’s a tragedy.

    • I agree with you Ruth, the problem really is not with reputable and responsible breeders, but those “back-yard” breeders who have sought to make a living out of cat or dog breeding.

      Responsible breeders, like ancient farmers sought to find a specimen that can be preserved for actual benefits and continued for future generations to come. Many of these breeds would have been extinct if was not for these dedicated cat, dog, cattle and other animal breeders.

      What world governments have to do, is to reduce the amount of irresponsible breeders, and allow for a tax rebate for those taking care of a living being, like one would care for ones child.

      • Hi Manner, thanks for commenting. In principle I agree with you but I don’t agree that cat breeders have been preserving a specimen for benefits. We don’t really need cat breeds at all. Before about 1870 there were no cat breeds in the formal sense. We could have left things like that permanently but the ever meddling human had to try and play God and create cat breeds. I don’t like it myself but I respect other views.


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