Identifying Cat Breeds

Identifying cat breeds is something that a significant number of people want to do. This, though, is a very tricky subject, probably more tricky and involved that people realize.

Firstly, why do people want to identify a cat breed? It suggests that people have a cat that they acquired/adopted other than from a breeder or a rescue facility or through a procedure that only dealt with purebred cats.

They perhaps feel that their cat is a cat of a certain breed. They may think that all cats are of a certain breed.

A cat that is part of a cat breed must be a purebred cat. The truth is that globally the percentage of purebred cats to random bred is minuscule.

Lets say there are about 500,000,000 domestic cats in the world. I will make a wild guess and say that there are about 100,000 purebred cats. I will no doubt be rapidly corrected. If I am correct that means that 0.02% of all domestic cats are purebred cats.

The point I am laboriously making is that if a person is seeking to identify the breed of their cat it is almost certain that the cat will not be part of a cat breed but a random bred cat. See: What Breed Is My Cat?

Sometimes cats do look very much like purebred cats. This is because the cat looks very refined. The refinement being the result of selective breeding. It shows. I always think that a classic example is the RagaMuffin in this story: The RagaMuffin Cat and the Princess. She was a rescue cat and a cat that was abused a little as I remember. But she shone through as a purebred cat.

If this is the case it seems to me that the first stage in identifying the cat breed is through appearance. This site has lots of high quality photographs to assist in that process – please start here. However appearance alone is not enough.

The trouble is that the cat breeds are not always that different in appearance. They almost overlap sometimes. This is because there are too many breeds! Sorry breeders. Think Thai cats and Siamese cats (see below) and also Siberian and Norwegian Forest cats.

Identifying cat breeds

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.

Identifying Cat Breeds – Cat you tell the appearance difference in the cats above?

Also appearance alone can be deceiving. Some individual cats might be purebred but not typical of the breed concerned. In other words from a breeder’s perspective they might be a cat that was poorly bred (not “typey”).

There is currently (March 2011) no complete DNA test that allows a person to identify cat breeds. That leaves the only true evidence from which a cat breed can be identified: documentary evidence. What I mean is a paper trail of parentage (pedigree) or a recognition by a cat association or cat registry that an individual cat is registered with that association/registry.

If you have a cat that has no history it seems to me to be all but impossible to find out if the cat is registered with an association. Someone can correct me on that too! I hope this helps.

Michael Avatar

Identifying cat breeds to Domestic Cat Breed

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Identifying Cat Breeds

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Mar 14, 2011Hi Kathy W
by: Michael

Interesting Bengal/Ragdoll cross. I have never heard of that before.

I wonder if the breeder was a bit misguided. There is a lot of myth surrounding the Ragdoll created by the cat’s founder Ann Baker.

The truth is that the Ragdoll is a domestic cat like any other; perhaps in general more laid back but not as much as legend states.

The Bengal cat be a little more aggressive because of the wild cat blood (Asian leopard cat) but the best way to get rid of the aggression is by socializing the cats to a high standard.

The Stucki’s breed Savannah cats, also a wildcat hybrid and I have seen nothing by very friendly cats. Their kittens mix in with the family before being re-homed.

Mar 13, 2011Different Breeds
by: Kathy W

We have a cat that we know is half Bengal and half Ragdoll. Where is the ragdoll?? We have no idea. He is Bengal through and through. That is the kind of things that make identifying difficult. He is a silver spotted tabby. The woman that bred him was having some aggresivness in her Bengals so she used the Ragdoll as an outcross. He is the most mischevious cat we own. He leaves nothing uninspected. He is a bathroom terrorist. If we didnt know he was part Ragdoll, that would probaly be the last breed to come to our mind when trying to figure out what he was.

14 thoughts on “Identifying Cat Breeds”

  1. Wondering if you can identify my silly girl. She has a grumpy face, big ears, and a red/black/brown coat. Some people have said a Torbie. 🙂

  2. I was told my kitten was Manecoon/Manx mix but friends have said it looks like a mix of something else, can you help me ? He is 2 months old

    • Hi Jennie, thanks for showing me your cat. He looks like my cat and my cat is a random bred spotted tabby. The most likely possibility is that he is not a purebred mix but a random bred which is not a criticism because random bred cats are just as good if not better. Dogs are often purebred or purebred mixes because there are far more purebred dogs than purebred cats. Most cats are random bred which means their parents and grandparents are not cats of a cat breed. Sorry is this disappoints you.

      If he looks like a cat breed it is an F5 Savannah cat.

  3. Hi. I’m just wondering if you can tell me what kind of cat my Oliver is? He has very big ears and stripes and some spots here and there. Spots are on his belly and stripes along his back/tail. I thought he was a tabby/random but his ears are much bigger than my other tabby and he is almost the same size as her but he is MUCH younger than her. Thank you!!

    • Hi Michelle M. Thanks for showing me you tabby cat. I think he is a mackerel tabby random bred. He does have large ears and breeders like to breed large ears for some cat breeds so I can understand your suggestion. However, individual random cats do vary in their appearance obviously and I think he is simply blessed with large ears. Thanks again. He looks lovely and cute.

  4. Syl’s owners moved and left him outside. Syl waited in front on his house for almost a year before he started to wander around. We found him out-front and now he’s part of the family but he still enjoys hanging outside during the late afternoon. We are wondering what kind of mixes he might be. Do you have an idea?

    • Hi Liz, thanks for sharing. He is most likely to be a ginger tabby random bred cat. He looks like that to me. That is not to say he is not a super cat. Your story is sad. He stayed in front of the house for a year. That is astonishing and very sad. I am pleased he has a nice home now.

        • Liz, your cat is gorgeous and what a loyal boy he is, to have waited a whole year in the hopes his owners would return. Thank you for offering him the loving home he truly deserves. I hope you have many happy years together ahead of you.

  5. I am the owner of what I believe to be a beautiful and loving Toyger named Leo but I’m not definite on his breed association. He could very well be a run of the mill domestic short hair tabby cat . He has beautiful tabby markings on his head and face then continuing throughout his coat . His base color is party . He has random leopard spots and his tail is very curly

    • Heavens he sounds divine. If you have a photo I’d be very pleased if you uploaded it to another comment. Just make sure it is not too large (see the text and link below the comment box).

      Thanks for sharing. If you have a Toyger it will be almost miraculous, by the way, because they are rare – most people buy them knowing what they have bought. Your cat is probably an exceptional looking tabby cat as you say.


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