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Natural Breeds of Cat Explored

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A life-long fascination with cats continues to find Ben enquiring into these incredibly evolved and adapted natural hunters.

natural-breeds-of-cat-explored

Natural Cat Breeds: What Are They?

A natural breed of cat refers to cat species that have developed due to naturally occurring adaptation to their local environment. In other words, natural cats have evolved without the direct intervention of people. Typically, these natural cats (sometimes referred to as landraces) have subsequently been developed into formal breeds by cat fanciers.

Landraces

LANDRACES: a local variety of a species of plant or animal that has distinctive characteristics arising from development and adaptation over time to conditions of a localized geographic region and that typically displays greater genetic diversity than types subjected to formal breeding practices.

— Merriam Webster Dictionary

Natural Cat Breeds Explored in This Article

 

 

 

Abyssinian

American Shorthair

Arabian Mow

British Shorthair

Dragon Li

Egyptian Mau

European Shorthair

Japanese Bobtail

Khao Manee

Kurilian Bobtail

Main Coon

Manx

Norwegian Forest

Russian Blue

Siberian Forest

Sokoke

Thai

Traditional Persian

Turkish Angora

Turkish Van

 

The Natural Domesticated Cat Family

All cats belong to the Felidae family. Within this family, there are three groupings:

  • Panthera (lions, tigers, and leopards)
  • Acinonyx (cheetah)
  • Felis (all remaining small cats)

All cats are predatory, and there is anatomical evidence that the Felidae family has all evolved from a common ancestor. An example of this being the shared characteristics of the skeletal structure.

The Abyssinian cat is known for its big personality. Their ticked coat is spectacular.

The Abyssinian cat is known for its big personality. Their ticked coat is spectacular.

Abyssinian Cat

Country of origin: Abyssinia (Ethiopia).

The Abyssinian Cat is an old established breed.

Build characteristics:

  • Medium-sized and slender-bodied with long-legs.
  • With its wedge-shaped head and large eyes, the Abyssinian is a distinctive and attractive-looking cat.
  • It has a silky ticked coat and quite large pointed ears.
  • They are recognized in 28 different colors, although these colors may be quite rare.

Identified health issues: In her article, Common Genetic Disorders in Cats, Jennifer Coates, DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine), writes "Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), a disease that causes blindness in mid to late life, is known to have a genetic cause in some cats. Two genes are involved in breeds like the Abyssinian."

American Shorthair Cat

Country of origin: United States of America.

  • A feline believed descended from shorthaired cats introduced to America in the 1600s.

Build characteristics:

  • Medium to large with a stocky frame.
  • The head is large, and their eyes are wide.
  • The American Shorthair can have various colors and patterns, although silver is the most frequently seen color.

This breed of cat is becoming ever more popular.

Identified health issues:

  • This shorthaired feline is generally a healthy animal.
  • Their flat face does occasionally make them susceptible to eye and respiratory problems.
natural-breeds-of-cat-explored

Arabian Mow Cat

Country of origin:

  • Arabian subcontinent.

With its roots in the hot, dry Arabian subcontinent, this cat is well suited to the harsh conditions within which it has thrived. In recent times the Arabian Mow has moved into cities and towns, quickly becoming domesticated, and it is now a popular breed.

Once considered a typical street cat in the middle east. Only recently recognized as an official breed.

This natural cat breed is over 1,000 years old. Native to the Arabian peninsula, they sleep during the day and hunt at night.

Build characteristics:

  • Medium-sized; this feline is long-legged.
  • Naturally adapted to the desert climate, they have large pointed ears, ideal for dispersing body heat.
  • Colors and patterns are many.

The Arabian Mow is a hardy and social cat. They thrive in a busy home, enjoy play and mix well with people and pets.

There are reports that this feline can be somewhat vocal. Often territorial when outdoors.

Their short hair means that they are easy to groom, only requiring an occasional brush.

Known health problems: The Arabian Mow is considered a healthy and robust breed with no widely reported inherent health problem.

British Shorthair Cat

Country of origin:

  • As the name suggests, this ancient cat is from Great Britain.

The British Shorthair descended from cats brought to Britain by the Romans, was employed in the Roman encampments, keeping them free of mice and even snakes.

Build characteristics:

  • A medium-sized cat, well built with a muscular frame.
  • This feline has a broad face.
  • The eyes tend to be large and round.
  • They have dense, plush coats.

The British Shorthair is a distinctive and popular cat, known for being good-natured and calm.

Known health issues: No genetically linked health issues identified.

Dragon Li Cat

Country of origin:

  • China.

This cat breed originates from China, where it existed in the wild. The Dragon Li has only recently been developed and introduced as a breed.

Build characteristics:

  • It is a small to medium-sized cat with muscular legs.
  • The Dragon Li is unique, with its large luminescent yellow-green eyes and golden-brown coat.
  • The tail is short and black-tipped.

The Dragon Li is regarded as an affectionate and loyal feline and remains relatively rare outside of China.

Known health issues: A resilient breed, this unusual cat is understood to be free from genetically related conditions.

Egyptian Mau Cat

Country of origin:

  • Unconfirmed.

There is continuing debate about the origins of this natural cat breed. However, the weight of opinion seems to be coming down on the hypothesis that its roots began with a spotted cat discovered in Cairo, taken to Italy before being bred with other spotted cats.

This cat is well known for being speedy, perhaps the fastest of all domesticated cats.

Build characteristics:

  • A medium-sized cat. It has a long body appearing muscled and strong.
  • The head is triangular, and it has large green eyes.
  • The coat is short in length and silky smooth to the touch.
  • The colors are silver, bronze, and smoke.

The Egyptian Mau is active and athletic, taking every opportunity to climb and jump. Known to be well-tempered, they adjust well to a busy home and enjoy outdoor spaces.

This unusual cat is a playful and loving pet that enjoys human company.

Health issues: There are no significant inherited conditions identified—possibly due to this cat breed not being extensively seen outside its original home.

natural-breeds-of-cat-explored

European Shorthair

Country of origin:

  • Continental Europe.

The European Shorthair is the oldest and most common breed of cat in continental Europe. They were first introduced into Europe by the Romans 2,000 years ago, who used this cat for catching mice.

Build characteristics:

  • A stocky and muscular cat.
  • The coat is short and dense (an evolutionary advantage as short coats don't tangle and parasites don't like it as much).
  • Sometimes have odd eyes.

Popular in some Scandinavian countries. Affectionate with people. Good company and a friendly family cat. Easy to groom, requires brushing once a week. Bonds well with families but can be territorial with other cats.

Known health issues: Naturally healthy, with no inherited matters identified.

natural-breeds-of-cat-explored

Japanese Bobtail

Country of origin:

  • This cat is native to Japan and Southeast Asia.

The Japanese Bobtail was first used to keep rodent populations away from silkwood barns. People in its native country consider this cat to be auspicious.

Build characteristics:

  • Small to medium in size with long slender bodies.
  • The hindlegs are generally longer than the front legs.
  • Their coat length can vary from short to long and is silky to the touch.
  • They can have a range of colors, including; white, black, brown, cream, tortoiseshell, and silver.
  • The Japanese Bobtail can also be a solid color or patterned.
  • A feline with an unusual tail that appears more rabbit-like than cat's.
  • Eye color can also vary to include; amber, aqua, blue, green, gold, hazel, orange or yellow.
  • Occasionally, the eyes can be differently colored (a condition called odd-eye).

An active and intelligent feline, they enjoy the company of people and are playful.

Known health issues: According to the International Cat Fanciers Association (TICA), published: April 13, 2020, "the Japanese Bobtail is considered an overall healthy breed.” However, they recommended their vaccinations and parasite treatments are kept up-to-date.

natural-breeds-of-cat-explored

Khao Manee Cat

Country of origin:

  • Thailand.

An ancient feline whose ancestry dates back hundreds of years. The Khao Manee has only recently been given official breed status outside of its native country,

Build characteristics:

  • With its striking good looks, the Khao Manee has a muscular build and relatively large ears.
  • The eyes are distinctively colored and can be a wide range of colors from blue, amber, yellow, or green—an animal often named Diamond Eye.
  • The coat is pure white, short in length, and smooth to the touch.

This cat is generally active, intelligent, playful, and communicative, thriving on attention and social contact. Requires brushing once or twice a week.

Known health issues:

  • The Khao Manee can be genetically predisposed to deafness.
  • Official bodies such as The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) actively states that "Randomly bred white cats are at higher risk of deafness."
  • The council have introduced measures to reduce these instances by requiring breeding cats to have hearing tests.

A Strikingly Beautiful Cat the Khao Manee

Kurilian Bobtail Cat

Country of origin:

  • Originally the Kurilian inhabited the Japanese Kuril Islands and the Kamchatka peninsula of Russia. Today it is little known outside of Russia, where it is the third most popular cat breed.

Build characteristics:

  • The Kurilian Bobtail is wild in appearance, often likened to a Lynx.
  • The back legs are a little longer than its front legs, and this cat is an excellent jumper.
  • The coat is water-resistant and is an example of a natural characteristic developed from its environment.
  • Its coat can be most solid colors but can also be tortoiseshell.

They tend to find a high point from which to survey all around them.

A cat that seemingly enjoys playing in the water, so care is needed around garden ponds.

Known health issues:

  • As with all cat breeds from a relatively small initial breeding population, there is always a risk of genetically inherited conditions.
  • However, the (TICA) states that "Kurilians are generally a healthy, natural breed."
natural-breeds-of-cat-explored

Main Coon

Country of origin:

  • The Maine Cat is one of the oldest natural cat breeds in America. This cat is the state official State cat of Maine.

Build characteristics:

  • One of the largest cat breeds.
  • The Maine Cat has a long shaggy, yet silky coat.
  • A distinctive-looking cat noted for its rectangular body and long flowing coat.
  • The cat has all the classic points of a hunter, large ears, large eyes, and a large muscular body.

The coat requires regular grooming to maintain its condition.

Owners report this cat as being a gentle giant and very sweet-natured.

Known health issues: Jennifer Coates DVM writes "Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (a type of heart disease) is caused by identified genetic mutations in Maine Coon cats." There are further reports that hip dysplasia can be problematic.

natural-breeds-of-cat-explored

Manx Cat

Country of origin:

  • The Manx Cat originated from the Isle of Man in the 18th century. Folklore suggests that the cat came from ships of the Spanish Armada.

Build characteristics:

  • The Manx Cat has front legs shorter than the back legs, which gives it a "rounded" appearance.
  • It is known for being a skilled hunter.
  • Renowned for having no tail (although some do have a stumpy tail), they are the only cat deliberately bred to be tail-free.
  • Color and patterns are many.
  • This breed has shorter front legs than back legs.

Grooming is a must, especially as they tend to shed hair during the spring and fall.

Affectionate and playful, the Manx cat is considered an ideal family cat.

Known health issues:

  • There a few health concerns surrounding this breed, so much so that several defects have been grouped and named as being "Manx Syndrome," these include; urinary tract issues, problems with bowels, digestion, and short spine arthritis.
  • The GCCF actively seeks to reduce short spine arthritis instances by amending the standard of points to no longer include a short back as being desirable.
natural-breeds-of-cat-explored

Norwegian Forest Cat

Country of origin:

  • The Norwegian Forest Cat has naturally evolved to living in a cold climate.

Build characteristics:

  • Another large cat, muscular bodied and strong-legged.
  • This cat has a woolly undercoat with glossy, water-shedding hairs on top.
  • Ears have tufted tips, and the paws have tufts.
  • There are many coat colors.
  • The eyes can be green, copper, or gold.

The Norwegian Forest cat requires frequent grooming.

They are considered sweet-natured and friendly.

Known health issues:

  • Heart conditions and hip dysplasia can be a problem with this breed.
natural-breeds-of-cat-explored

Russian Blue Cat

Country of origin:

  • A cat with its roots in Russia.

Build characteristics:

  • Medium to large in size with its long legs and graceful body, it is quite an elegant cat.
  • Eyes are almond-shaped and green.
  • The coat is unique to this breed and sets it apart from many other cats.
  • It is double-coated and dense but feels fine to the touch.
  • The Russian Blue can vary from a light-silver to slate grey.

This cat's nickname is Archangel Blues, believed so named after sailors took the cat from the Archangel Isles to Europe in the mid-1800s.

An affectionate pet that generally thrives when sharing a home with people.

Known health issues:

  • The Russian Blue is a healthy animal with no hereditary or genetic disorders identified.

Siberian Forest Cat

Origin:

  • Russia's national cat, often referred to as the Siberian Cat.

Build characteristics:

  • Barrel-shaped and muscular, the Siberian Forest cat is a largish and powerful breed, known for its jumping ability.
  • The head is broad and somewhat wedge-shaped.
  • The eyes are large and round.
  • The fur coat is dense and water-resistant.

An intelligent feline that generally craves attention. Often reported as being fascinated with water.

Regular grooming will help maintain the cat's long hair.

Known health issues:

  • Generally healthy, although some may be prone to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (heart condition).
natural-breeds-of-cat-explored

Sokoke Cat

Country of origin:

  • This tabby cat discovered in Kenya in 1978 is named after the Arabuko Sokoke forest. A breed of cat that is understood to have been around for hundreds of years. Probably the rarest domesticated cat in the world.

Build characteristics:

  • The head is small and wedge-shaped, with the top of the head being flat.
  • Eyes are quite large and set wide apart.
  • The ears are moderately large.
  • A slender but muscular body and long-legged giving the appearance of being refined and delicate.
  • The coat is short and can be greenish amber to blue.
  • An excellent climber.

The Sokoke enjoys company, is loyal, and well suited to living in the home.

Known health issues:

  • There are no significant health issues reported.
  • Ear infections are known to reoccur.

Sokoka the Rarest Breed of Cat

Thai Cat

Country of origin:

  • This cat has contributed enormously to many cat breeds' gene pool. The Thai cat has been much revered in Thailand for centuries.

Build characteristics:

  • A medium-built cat that is muscular.
  • The Thai is well known for its heart-shaped face.
  • The coat is short and off-white with shading in color.

Gentle natured, the Thai cat is vocal and enjoys joining in with family activities.

Health issues:

  • Long-lived.
  • A healthy cat with no inherited issues identified.
natural-breeds-of-cat-explored

Traditional Persian Cat

Country of origin:

  • First recorded in Persia (Iran) in the 16th century.

Build characteristics:

  • A medium-sized feline with a small, rounded head with a short nose. T
  • The eyes are big and round, an aspect giving rise to their nickname "doll-face Persians."
  • Their coats are long and come in a variety of colors and patterns.

A beautiful-looking cat is often referred to as the cat world's glamour puss. A pet that is known for being calm and enjoying a quiet life. Perhaps not best suited for a rowdy household.

The Traditional Persian can be high-maintenance.

Known health issues:

  • Can be sensitive to heat.
  • Problems reported with eyes from leaky tear ducts.

Facts About Persian Cats

Turkish Angora Cat

Country of origin:

  • The Turkish Angora is an ancient and naturally occurring cat breed from Turkey. This feline gained its name from Ankara in Turkey (formerly known as Angora).

Build Characteristics:

  • A medium to large cat.
  • The eyes can be blue, green, gold, occasionally odd-eyed.
  • The ears stand tall.
  • The coat is of medium length and silky to the touch.
  • The coat can be many colors and patterns, including white, red, cream, black.

This cat can be a quiet, sweet-natured, and affectionate pet in the home. While they enjoy playing, they can become upset at sudden changes.

Health issues:

  • Reasonable care is needed to prevent the Turkish Angora from becoming overweight.
natural-breeds-of-cat-explored

Turkish Van Cat

Origin:

  • The Turkish Van cat is an ancient natural breed originating in Iraq, Iran, Russia, and Turkey. Its natural home was the mountainous areas of Asia.

Build Characteristics:

  • A large cat with bucket-loads of energy.
  • The coat of the Turkish Van is silky to the touch and water-resistant.
  • Coloring is predominately white with red or brown on the face and tail.
  • Eyes blue or amber, but each eye may be a different color.

A feline with a love of water and a capable swimmer, nicknamed the "swimming cat." But don't be fooled; the Van cat is also a competent climber with a love of high places.

Health issues:

  • Generally considered to be a healthy cat.

Turkish Van Cat Fun and Interesting Facts

Cat Breed Poll

References

  • Coates, J. DVM. (2016, December 16). Common Genetic Disorders in Cats. https://www.petmd.com/cat/slideshows/7-common-genetic-disorders-cats
  • Andrew, J.Allen, DVM. Ph.D., DACVIM. (2018, August). Metabolic disorders of cats.The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF). https://www.msdvetmanual.com/cat-owners/metabolic-disorders-of-cats/introduction-to-metabolic-disorders-of-cats#v3247652
  • Japanese Bobtail at a Glance, (2020, April 13). International Cat Fanciers Association (TICA). https://tica.org/breeds/browse-all-breeds?view=article&id=1946
  • Stephen B. Adams, DVM, MS, DACVS. (2018, August). Components of the Musculoskeletal Systems in Cats. https://www.msdvetmanual.com/cat-owners/bone,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders-of-cats/components-of-the-musculoskeletal-system-in-cats
  • Houle, T. (2014, December 16). The American Shorthair. PethealthNetwork.com
  • Wedderburn, P. (2019, March). Cat breeds: the hidden problem of inherited diseases. http://www.veterinaryirelandjournal.com/small-animal/74-cat-breeds-the-hidden-problem-of-inherited-diseases

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.