The Truth About Cat Breeds (irreverent)
People might hate me for writing this. It is deliberately irreverent.
Purebred cats are riddled with genetic disease; the longer established they are the greater the number of diseases. They aren’t even the real thing – we made them up. Many people talk about purebred cats (and dogs for that matter) as if nature created them that way. Wrong, we created them. The same people believe that moggies are inferior — second class with no class. Wrong, they can look superb and are healthier.
All domestic, feral and stray cats are a single subspecies of the North African wildcat; it makes no difference that the cat is a moggie or a pedigree.
Moggies are cats in their natural, healthy state whereas pure breeding is genetic manipulation devised by amateur genetic engineers for their amusement. Blame Harrison Weir, the founder of the cat fancy. He started it.
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All of today’s so called cat breeds were created in the last 150 years. They are not even the real thing because the real “cat breeds” are not breeds at all, they are moggies that are more genuine than the cat breed. Confused? The Real Turkish Angora or Van are paradigm examples.
In 19th century England, eugenics – improving the genetic quality of humans – was all the rage, encouraging upper class Dr Frankensteins to mess around with dogs and cats and then to tell the world what a wonderfully “pure” breed of animal they had created.
Purebred cats are arbitrary. Some people fancy messing around with genetics and playing God – hence the name “cat fancy”. At one time in the early days of the cat fancy any new breed was up for grabs. Nowadays the cat fancy has reached saturation point. There is no room for a new creation. The cat creating God is redundant.
Many purebred cats were made from a couple of moggies. Many were declared purebred cats because they happen to live in a country. These were named after the country of origin. These days there is little or no connection between the breed and country of origin – example: Persian, which has no connection with Persian cats, genetically. Anyway Persian cats don’t even come from Iran.
“Purebred” can mean “inbred”. ‘Purity” of genes does not equate to good or excellent. In order to “refine” and retain the distinguishable appearance of each cat breed breeders have to mate cats from the same breed. If they “outcross” (mate the cat with e.g. a moggie) foreign genes are introduced which both alters the appearance away from the desired standard and all of a sudden makes the cat no longer purebred unless the cat fancy allows it, which I guess they are sometimes reluctant to do.
It is said that the whole of the Singapura cat breed – the world’s smallest breed – is based on 4 cats (if that number is wrong, think very small number).
In the dog world the same rules (and worse) apply and 60% of golden retrievers die of cancer and 33% of King Charles spaniels have skulls that are too small for their brains (think how that feels). As for cats…
It is estimated that over 37% of Persians have PKD1 (polycystic kidney disease), a breed that accounts for nearly 80% of the cat fancy….and they have the famous “tear duct overflow” because their heads are a funny shape as if someone punched their face.
The more the cat fancy “refines” a cat breed the more they distance the cat from naturalness and health and in any case when “refinement” concerns appearance it is based upon subjective judgments about aesthetics. What one person thinks is refined another thinks is rat-like – I am referring to the modern Siamese which is only distantly related to the real thing.
We didn’t really need cat breeds as they cost the lives of moggies who need homes.
Bengals actually have a very wide genetic base as so many ALCs and domestics have been used to diversify the gene pool.
When did they decide the diversify the breed Sarah? Thanks for the info.
Right form the start. A number of breeders began their own bloodlines with ALC studs and suitable domestic females. Domestic outcrosses have included cats carrying Burmese and Siamese colour restriction and cats carrying longhair (hence the emergence of the Cashmere). You still get all sorts of colours popping up in Bengals such as blue, solid black and sorrel. A female derived from a margay cross was also added into one bloodline, which further diversified the gene pool. New bloodlines can still be added using ALC studs.
It’s Singapura that are descended from only 4 cats, btw, and there is great resistance to widening the gene pool despite the problem of uterine inertia. In Britain and part of Europe there are permissible outcrosses, but breeders using outcrosses are subjected to a great deal of abuse despite the benefits to the health of the Singapura breed. I think Singapura breeders in the USA would rather see the breed become extinct from inbreeding than improve genetic health through outcrossing.
Thanks Sarah. I’ll change the breed in the article 😉
Thank you for this honest and well-written article, Michael.
The Angora Cat Association
My pleasure. We think alike. Hope you are all well and your cats.
Those are the reasons often given by TV and TA breeders but how come Maine Coons, Siberians, Norwegian Forest cats were not required to become more refined or changed in some way? These 3 “breeds” are accepted just the way they have always been, or pretty close to it. Nobody says a Maine Coon is rough and unrefined, and they are extremely popular, much more so than the western tailor-made Angoras. It just so happened that the early breeders of the Angoras were sloppy and lazy as well as unscrupulous. The out-crossing was a matter of convenience and doing things on the cheap. They then made up a standard of points based on their results and then of course look down their noses at the original Angoras which unfortunately for them are one of the most beautiful cats ever. They call them street cats forgetting that the most important criteria for their legitimacy is that they originate from the streets of Turkish towns and cities. Lots of irrational thinking there which is typical of people with a lot to hide.
Wow harvey Beautiful. You sure have beautiful Cats.
Good points as usual. I think breeders still like to “refine” cats like the Maine Coon by fiddling around with various bits of anatomy. There are still some genetic diseases inherent with Maine Coons.
Yea. I like Pedigree but I still Prefer Moggies or Mixed Breed as I believe Moggies get a hard time in life.
Yes there wouldn’t be so many unwanted moggies if people thought about giving them a home instead of breeding ‘special’ cats for money and prestige.
To truly love cats is to love cats for themselves, as they are, simply to love all cats.
Yep that’s how i feel I’ve never had a pedigree all my life. Sorry if there are mistakes, I got jasmine in my arms as i type. I agree with what you said too Ruth.
I know little about breeding.
But, what I do believe is that every living thing on this planet deserves to be here INTACT, the way they landed here.
I realize that belief may mean that domesticated cats wouldn’t even be in existence.
But, so be it.
How I agree Dee!
Hi Michael. Re.- ” It is a no-win situation. They should outcross for health but if they do they end up with no breed really. It is catch 22. ”
There is absolutely no need to mate them with cats of a different “breed’ or non-breed or different geographical origin. They can get all the Turkish cats they want in Turkey, but that costs more money than just borrowing the neighbours cat. These are the same people who are so smug and superior about the purity of their breed. They got caught out by the science of genetics.
Good point. I wonder though if because they have do changed the appearance of the TA and Van so much that they see the original as unacceptable, too random bred-like, too course and not refined enough? They are obsessed with appearance as opposed to genuineness and integrity.
It is very hard for the cat fancy to understand that Turkish Angoras and Turkish Vans are NOT cat breeds. They are a naturally occurring cat from Anatolia and nobody bred them. They do that by themselves without any help from humans. This inability or unwillingness to understand leads to very strange things which tend to ridicule the people involved.
It was recently suggested to me that some cat breeds were out crossed in order to save the breed from extinction. I retorted that far from saving a breed from extinction, out crossing would cause it’s extinction, since the original gene genome will be 50% diluted at the first mating, and so on. Studying the DNA results of the American Angora shows that only 5.995% of the original Turkish Angora remains. Such cats have no claim to the name Turkish Angora. Well, you might say at least they have a healthy wide gene pool and diversity and consequent robust health and immune system. . Wrong! Once the desired type was achieved from all that out crossing, the few “perfect” individuals were ruthlessly inbred to maintain that type. In fact any benefit from the breeding program was thrown away in the pursuit of standardisation as if the cats were some kind of industrial product. And how comes these pure-bred cats still have perfect pedigrees that prove their impeccable Turkish ancestry when they are almost totally unrelated to Turkish cats? The answer is obvious.
For all of their efforts they have achieved losing the original cat “breed” as well as ruining the robust health of the original natural cat.
I suggested that people shy away from cats with long pedigrees as the longer they have been in the hands of breeders twitching and jerking to the commands of the cat associations the more likely they have strayed from the original and the higher the inbreeding coefficient. They are quite unable to comprehend that the natural cat as found in nature is a superior animal. Do they really think they do a better job than nature.?? Needless to say this was seen as heresy and flew in the face of all they have been brainwashed to believe as pure, perfect, and wonderful. We see the results of this lack of professionalism and decency with all the health problems that “breed” cats suffer from.
You are going to have to reprogram people’s brains to get that message across. The cat fancy did a good job in convincing people that these breeds are cat breeds and not human arbitrary creations. I am sure most cat breeders think of them as breeds. Most breeders won’t know the full unmitigated truth.
The deep flaw at the heart of cat breeding is in your statement:
It is a no-win situation. The should outcross for health but if they do they end up with no breed really. It is catch 22.
This is the best article I’ve read all the week! Spot on and what we’ve been saying all along. Cats should be allowed to be cats, they shouldn’t be tweaked, changed, interbred, purified, standardised OR declawed. The best thing in the world is a neutered, plain down to earth domestic long or short haired cat, far healthier, far more attractive, far more fun than a “pedigree” mutation.
Agreed. I hate to say it but there is a strong case for no cat breeds. They are products for human entertainment both for the breeder and the buyer.
Thanks Michael, Your right-Cats are bred so we will have a specific type for our amusement, which unfortunately & much too often is at the animals expense & ours .
Pleased you agree. I was being a bit irreverent though.
So-Too many animals have suffered already, due to our superficial ideals & lust for so called perfection, which does not exist_I think it would be wise to stop trying to fix nature if it isn’t broken.____
That’s not nice* to fool Mother Nature _
I don’t think anyone should hate you for telling the truth! I’m all for honesty and it’s true that messing about creating new breeds of cats and dogs is all wrong.
In my vet nurse days I saw plenty of the suffering of pedigree animals because of them being bred/interbred to create new breeds.
Siamese cats with illnesses and flat faced Persian cats with breathing difficulties and needing Caesarian sections because they couldn’t help themselves to give birth.
Pekenese dogs with an eye popped out because they bulged so far that a slight accident could cause that.
A neighbour has a King Charles spaniel with eye problems because as you say her skull is too small for her brain.
Breeding wild cats with domestic cats to create half wild cats for prestige and show and for making money is wrong too. Cats with wild in their ancestry being confined in houses or enclosures, never having any freedom to run unfettered for miles, it’s heart breaking.
Human beings are very selfish and have messed with the animal kingdom far too much and the animals are paying the price. Some by their deformities, some by their imprisonment and some by dying unwanted.
They are not ours to use and abuse, to be entertained by experimented on, or to eat, we are supposed to be their caretakers but how many humans truly do care?