I believe that this is a unique map showing the places of origin of nearly all the mainstream cat breeds with further details and some videos available when you click on the blue marker flags. Drag the map by left clicking on it and moving the mouse. Zoom using the controls. Cick on the blue flags to see the breed and some detail.
Warning: This map portrays the conventional view of breed origins as stated by breeders and cat associations. However, for example, from a genetic standpoint, the Maine Coon is really all European and the same goes for the Persian and American Shorthair. The Japanese Bobtail may not have originated in Japan – in fact it is not very Japanese, genetically. Please remember that. It is complicated. This page provides some background to this statement.
The history of some breeds is not that clear. Some of the natural and very long standing breeds are clearer such as the Siamese cat or Turkish Van. The names of these cat breeds tell what we need to know, almost. However, with the natural breeds we can usually only locate the country of origin. When the cat breed has been created – a hybrid – it should be possible to locate the town or the exact address because the creation and development would have been carried out by a cat breeder. The problem here is that things get a little hazy if the breeder is no longer in business and so on. Sometimes we know the breeder who created the breed but not the exact location or at least that seems to be the case. One example is the Toyger. I know who created the breed and her cattery but for the time being can’t find out where it is (other than the USA). If anyone can add information please comment.
Other factors which can present obstacles to clarity in preparing a map on cat breeds places of origin are:
There are a number of cat breeds that started out as feral cats and/or random bred cats and which were refined to become show cats. These cats are the natural cats and they still exist in both forms (moggie and purebred). For example, there are still feral or random bred British Shorthair cats in Britain. And there are still feral Egyptian Mau cats in Egypt and moggie Turkish Angoras in Turkey, which, ironically it more pure genetically than the much better know American version. The history of some breeds are so long that we can only generally guess as to the origin and this naturally leads to a variety of thoughts as to how it happened. A classic is the Abyssinian cat. I have my theory on this cat based on the evidence. But all theories are probably as good as each other.
Gradual evolution of a cat breed can present a problem. An example is the Maine Coon cat. The precursor to this breed came over with the settlers from Europe in the early 1600s and the cat developed from that time, naturally. What is the place of origin? I decided on Maine, USA, a conventional view. But, in reality, the cat would have developed/evolved in other places over the long time – 400 years – since importation into North America. Also, importantly, as mentioned, the true DNA of this cat is European so the place of origin of the Maine Coon is many places arguably.
The origin of breeds can be lost through breeding as breeders outcross to other breeds or random bred cats and the original DNA gets totally lost. The Persian is a good example of this.
The origins of breeds through mutations can sometimes be muddied by the simple fact that the mutation would not be confined to one place; why should it? The origin of the breed is anywhere, in effect. However, in these cases the origin can be said to be the place where the particular breeder who developed the breed found the mutated cat. Examples are the Rex cats and the Sphynxs (hairless cats). See Cornish Rex and Sphynx cat.
Cat breeders don’t sometimes (understandably) provide addresses of their cattery so even if one knows the cattery that created a hybrid cat breed the location remains a bit of an obstacle!
Sometimes I get a feeling that a little bit of judicious glossing up of the origin of a breed has taken place (or am I being unfair?). In which case an article is going to be tricky. One such example is the Singapura cat. This cat should come from the drains of Singapore as a feral cat but can we find small cats lurking around the drains of Singapore that look like the Singapura? No, not according to Sarah Hartwell, who has been there.
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Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.