How many cat breeds are there, anyway? Good question.
Cats are generally classified as either domestic (without a lineage) or purebred (with a documented lineage). But even among the experts, there is no agreement. Three main feline-related associations specializing in purebred cats indicate different numbers of groups.
Naturally, the non-championship domestic household cat is the most common cat of all. This is the type we commonly think of when we talk about cats as pets in general.
Let’s look at some of the more popular purebred cats, too.
Because this breed originated in Thailand, the name “Siamese” has stuck since the 19th century. Siamese cats are known for their distinctive markings called “points” that are the areas of coloration on their face, ears, feet, and tail. This breed is also known for its almond-shaped piercing blue eyes, triangular head shape, long and slender bodies. The International Cat Association describes Siamese cats as being affectionate, social, intelligent, and playful.
Luxuriously long-haired, this Asian breed is not to be confused with the Siamese cat. Originally from Iran and popular since the 17th century, they’re sometimes called Shirazi for the city by that name. A distinctively “pushed in” round face and small, flat nose are features of this glamorous-looking breed. The cat’s fur may be in various colors and good grooming is important to keep this cat’s coat healthy. Many say these cats are calm and sweetly tempered, especially toward people they know.
You guessed it…the Maine coon cat does originally come from Maine where they’re now the official state cat. Largest of all domesticated cat breeds, it is one of the oldest natural breeds in North America. The breed was known for being polydactyl (six-toed) to help them get a grip when walking in deep snow or hunting, although that special characteristic of a Maine coon has largely been bred out. Despite their large size, the male coon in particular, these cats are intelligent and gentle in nature.
This breed gets its name for appearance reasons, rather than place of origin. The cat’s relaxed attitude is mirrored by a floppy, laidback demeanor. Affectionate and docile, the big blue-eyed ragdoll is large and muscular with semi-long hair that’s soft and silky in a color point coat.
This shorthaired all-American breed looks quite a lot like the mixed-breed domestic cat, but is in fact, a purebred. An all-American breed (similar to its cousin, the British Shorthair), these cats are large, intelligent felines with a round face and short ears.
Unlike the mixed-breed domestic cat, the purebred will have kittens with its same markings. American Shorthairs are seen as friendly, playful, and independent.