Cat Body Types

Cat body types vary significantly. In the cat fancy, a cat’s shape or conformation is referred to in the breed standards in a particular way.

There are in fact a limitless number of body types. They can, however, be placed into 6 categories. This categorization is almost arbitrary but useful nonetheless.

All the photos and text on this page are protected by copyright except where indicated. Violations of copyright are reported to (DMCA). Sorry about that but needs must.

Here they are:


This refers to a slender body; some would say skinny to use a term employed to describe people. On a more technical level, the head is long and triangular, the body is long and lean, the tail is long and so are the legs. Cats in this category are, for example, the Cornish Rex, Modern Siamese (the Cat Fanciers Association – CFA – would call this, simply, the Siamese), Balinese (long haired Modern Siamese), Oriental Shorthair and Oriental Longhair.

Here is an example of the oriental cat body type:

Modern Siamese oriental body shape
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.

Modern Siamese – photo copyright Helmi Flick



Again this refers to a slightly slender cat. Perhaps a better description would be athletic, although this is my description. Once again trying to be more technical and hopefully not confusing the body should be long and the legs in proportion and slim with fine boning. The tail should be long too and tapered. While the head should be a modified wedge. The ears should be large while the eyes are almond or oval shaped. Breeds in this category are the Abyssinian, Somali (long haired Abyssinian), Japanese Bobtail, Japanese Bobtail Longhair, Russian Blue, Nebelung and Turkish Angora.

Here is an example of the foreign cat body type:

Abyssinian Cat foreign body shape
Abyssinian – photo copyright Helmi Flick



The semi-foreign cat body type describes a cat that is a little less slender or more thick set than cats with a foreign body conformation. It is a variation of the foreign type. The lines should be long and boning medium. That is probably obvious. For me, cats in this category are in the middle range of body conformation, very much standard cat shapes. Breeds described as semi-foreign would be the American Curl, American Curl Shorthair, Devon Rex, Egyptian Mau, Havana Brown, LaPerm, Munchkin (the body is normal but the legs are short giving the impression of being more cobby (see below) in my opinion, Tonkinese, Sphynx (this cat has a slightly odd body shape with a substantial body but limbs that look thinner in comparison) and Snowshoe cats.

Here is an example of the semi-foreign cat body type:

Havana Brown cat semi-foreign body shape
Havana Brown – photo copyright Helmi Flick



We have passed through the mid point and are now heading towards the rounded/stocky/chunky end of the spectrum of cat body types. These are my words and not cat fancy words, of course. Types of cats that are considered to have this body conformation would be the American Shorthair, American Wirehair, Bombay, British Shorthair, Chartreux, Korat, Scottish Fold, Selkirk Rex and Singapura (I’d place the Singapura as in between semi-cobby and semi-foreign). In fact, it perhaps goes without saying that individual cats of many cat breeds will cross over to other types of cats in terms of body shape. The boundaries are not rigidly defined.

Here is an example of the semi-cobby cat body type:

British Shorthair semi-cobby body shape
Brit SH Cat – photo copyright Helmi Flick


See the Singapura Breed Standard to see how the CFA standard describes this well balanced cat.


The body should be short and compact. The shoulders are broad. The head is rounded and the tail usually short. These are thick set cats, rounded cat breeds, are the type of cats that fall into this category and include: Burmese (this would refer to the USA type, the UK Burmese cat shape is different (see European Burmese, which is more Oriental in shape), Manx, Cymric (long haired Manx), Persian, Himalayan (pointed Persian) and Exotic Shorthair (shorthaired Persian).

Here is an example of the cobby body type:

Manx Cat cobby body shape
Manx Cat – photo copyright Helmi Flick


See the Manx Cat Breed Standard to see how the cobby body fits in with the rest of the body and the CFA breed standard.


These are simply large cats that are not rounded or stocky (cobby) and include the Maine Coon (one of the largest domestic cat breeds), Bengal (this cat can be a little smaller than substantial, sometimes, in my view), Birman, Norwegian Forest Cat, Pixiebob, Ragdoll, Siberian and Turkish Van.

Here is an example of the substantial body type:

Ragdoll Cat substantial body shape
Ragdoll – photo copyright Helmi Flick


The cats listed are a selection. There are many more cat breeds, albeit that some are on the fringes of the cat fancy (see domestic cat breeds for what I call fringe breeds). Start here: Photos of cat breeds A-H to see the more established breeds (this lead to two more pages of pictures of breeds).

Comment: A visitor made the following comment on cat body types. Make of it what you will:

Re “foreign type”, “semi- foreign type” and “oriental type”

In what I have seen in breed standards, the long, “tubular” body style and fine boning of a modern style Siamese or Oriental Shorthair is now called “oriental type” in the cat fancy.

The term “foreign type” was used long ago to describe the early Siamese and is now appropriately used in the standard for the TICA Thai (Old Style Siamese) – a noticeably long body but not so tubular and stretchy as the modern meezers and OS. The Russian Blue is another one described as “foreign type”

The Tonkinese, for example, is described as “semi-foreign type”.

Cat Body Types to Different Cat Breeds

15 thoughts on “Cat Body Types”

  1. I recently was given qaq very skidding cat , she is beautiful but I doubt she is the turkish angora the original owner claimed she is , but u have no doubt she us nit the qveraage caaat found in Cali near me. she is almost 2 x the height if my stray cats.if the pic isn’t clear in these points she is very slender . long body very wedge shaped to her face and her eyes are the lightest softest green I have seen and huge on her face much longer back legs . any idea what she may be . her temperament is scared . but she wants to be pet . not held . and I Invaded her space lol so when I put her down she popped up and slapped me lightly with no claws . it was very prissy girl like and funny actually . never been slapped by an offended cat before . and ears not so big . he’d is small and build ks very slim and delicate

    • Hi, Ashley, and thanks for commenting. The cat you are referring to would be a random-bred cat but with a very distinct Mediterranean appearance. Also, this cat has a Turkish Van coat type. That does not mean that she is a Turkish Van purebred cat because she is not. But the coat markings are those of a Turkish Van living in a Mediterranean country where the cats are slenderer and the coats are white with the kind of markings you see on your cat. That’s all we can say about the cat at this stage. You see lots of these sorts of coat types and body conformations in, as mentioned, the Mediterranean area where temperatures are high.

    • Definitely Van-type. Can’t tell if purebred without documentary evidence on pedigree but strong Van appearance. Thanks for showing. So, yes, a Turkish Van cat but you need evidence of pedigree.

  2. My kitten being a Persian traditional AKA dollface chinchilla is a find 6 months old boy. He is medium-bodied, however, his middle body between his front and back paws is very long :D, I am just curious to know if that means anything, or there is a specific reason he looks like that.

    • Hi Azy, it is probably just the way the cat has been bred. Persians should be cobby really so this anatomical feature of your cat is not in compliance with the breed standard. However, that’s not important unless you are showing your cat at cat shows. I’d say that it is nothing to be concerned about. If you have a picture you might like to upload it to another comment. Thanks for asking.

  3. Why is it an insult to be thought gay?
    Is it an insult to be thought straight?

    Who cares what your sexual orientation is anyway?

    I’m here to learn about cats!

    • It is not but it is said homophobically as I have stated i.e. with the intention of insulting. The point needs to be made as a section of society equates men who like cats as gay.


Leave a Comment

follow it link and logo