These are the purebred cat breed registrations at the number one cat association in the UK – the GCCF – over the period 1988 to 2010 to which I have compared the 2020 figures. They are published with the association’s permission. The spreadsheet was compiled in about 2008 and is therefore now of historical interest which makes it more interesting when you can compare that information with modern-day registrations of the cat breeds in the UK. Therefore, below the spreadsheet I have published GCCF cat breed registrations for 2020.
The reason I have done this is to provide a source of analysis. The number of cat breed registrations indicates cat breed popularity in the UK. In my opinion it is not as accurate as a popularity poll. Polls tell us what people think about the cat breeds whether they have a cat or not. Whereas number of registrations is simply that, an indication of the number of cats bred by cat breeders. There will be a similarity between the two sets of figures though. This website’s long standing poll results can be seen here and you can vote as well (as at around 2010).
My initial thoughts about the GCCF registrations are as follows:
The Persian has the highest number of registrations over the period to 2010. Yet there has been a dramatic fall off in numbers. In 1988 there were 11,483 registrations while in 2010 there were 1,494. And in 2020 the number is 908. This number is 8% of the 1988 number. In other words, there has been a 92% drop in popularity of the Persian over around the past 30 years.
The Persian cat’s popularity has dived and the reason, I suggest, is health and maintenance. The flat-faced Persian has inbuilt health problems. And people in general like healthy cats for common sense reasons. The contemporary Persian is a mistake from a commercial point of view. It seems to me that the American version of the Persian has had an influence here. The American breed standards insist upon a flat-face with all the elements in vertical alignment. An extraordinary objective. The British breed standard under the GCCF does not require this vertical alignment and therefore the Persian cats bred in the UK will be of more moderate appearance and therefore healthier because there will be less in the way of facial deformities which cause to duct overflow in the American cats and breathing issues.
Another reason for the decline in the popularity of the Persian is the increased popularity in other breeds such as the Maine Coon, British Shorthair and Ragdoll. The same decline in the Persian’s popularity has occurred in the USA.
The long overly coat of the Persian requires daily grooming otherwise it becomes matted. Persians have trouble being outdoors as they collect dirt in their coat.
Both the Burmese and Siamese have also suffered a steep decline in numbers up to 2010 and a further decline since then to 2020. The reason is the same as above, I propose. The Siamese and Burmese are related cats. The modern, over-slender, foreign bodied Siamese is overbred with a compromised immune system with accompanying Siamese cat health problems. Sorry to be so brutally honest. Please breed the original Siamese cat – see Siamese cat history.
In contrast you will see that the Maine Coon and the Ragdoll have shown increases in registration numbers. These cats are not free of genetically inherited illnesses but they are generally considered to be healthy cat breeds.
And, importantly, the Ragdoll is artificially bred to have a certain character which is suited to modern life and cat containment which is a trending topic in the world of domestic cats. Looking to the future, there is no doubt in my mind that there will be a gradual increase in the West, initially, and then in other developing countries to keep domestic cats confined for their safety and to protect wildlife. The Ragdoll fits into that future scenario very well.
The British shorthair tops the list in 2020 because this is in general a well-balanced cat breed with no outstanding inherited health problems. It’s a breed which is easy to maintain and it has a nice character suited for indoor life as well.
Ease of maintenance due to minimising veterinary bills which brings anxiety and concern into cat ownership has become more of an influencing factor nowadays than before. And the coat of the British Shorthair is much easier to maintain than the Persian’s coat. It’s a delight to touch being very dense and short. I’m sure that cat owners don’t want to be obliged to groom their cat once or twice a day in order to avoid matting which is the case with Persians as they have overly long coats which have been created through artificial selection as has the flat-face as mentioned.
The Bengal initially shot up in numbers because of its exotic appearance but has consistently fallen back. This may also be due to health issues such as Bengal nose and HCM. Another reason why the Bengal cat is much less popular than before is probably because they require more input from their human caregivers. They are more energetic because they are wildcat hybrids. They are much harder to contain. They are more likely to be less content when contained.
They are an exotic cat but I sense that nowadays cat owners had become more pragmatic and in a more competitive world they want a cat which fits almost seamlessly into their lives. They want a domestic cat companion which is easy to maintain and which can support them rather than place demands on them. The wildcat hybrids are more demanding than the more placid cats such as the British shorthair.
I will leave visitors to study the numbers and trends. The above observations are the ones that stand out to me.
Below are the GCCF registrations for their accepted breeds for 1988-2010:
Below are the registrations for 2020 which, as mentioned, I believe provide a useful comparison with the earlier registration numbers. These figures do really point to popularity, as also mentioned, and to issues which are important to cat adopters. We can thank the Internet for the better knowledge that adopters have nowadays. There has been a sea change in knowledge about the breeds since I started this website in 2007. I feel that I have contributed to the improvement in knowledge through this website.
I am thankful for the GCCF allowing me to publish this page on GCCF registrations. It shows a transparency that is laudable.