Cat Breed Descriptions

Copyright © 1994-2004 Laura Gilbreath,

The breed photos are used courtesy of The Fanciers Breeder Referral List. All photographs are copyright © by the photographer, and may not be copied or downloaded.

This icon: indicates that a photo of this breed is available. Click on the icon to view the photo.


The Abyssinian is a very active, playful, and inquisitive breed. This slender, shorthaired breed is distinguished by its ticked tabby coat pattern, which is a pattern more commonly seen in wild cats. Though ruddy is the color most associated with the breed, "Abys" are available in blue, fawn, and red (also known as sorrel), as well.

For more information, see the Abyssinian Breed FAQ.

American Bobtail

This experimental breed has a naturally shortened tail, about half the length of a normal tail, but longer than that of the Japanese Bobtail. Whether the dominant gene controlling the mutation is the same as the Manx, or a new mutation, has not yet been established. American Bobtails are not widely recognized.

American Curl

The American Curl is recognized by its unusual ears, which are curled backwards. This is the result of a natural mutation. There are both longhair and shorthair varieties, and a rainbow of patterns and colors. This relatively new breed has an energetic, affectionate temperament.

For more information, see the American Curl Breed FAQ.

American Shorthair

The American Shorthair was developed from native American working cats. It is a moderately stocky, even-tempered cat with a short coat. Although this breed is accepted in a wide variety of colors and patterns, the silver classic tabby is perhaps best known.

American Wirehair

The American Wirehair is distinguished by its coat - as the result of a natural mutation, every hair is crimped and springy, including the whiskers. The original mutation occurred in a domestic shorthair, and the American Shorthair has also contributed to the development of the breed. Wirehairs may be either shorthaired or longhaired, in a variety of colors and patterns.


The Angora is the British equivalent of the Oriental Longhair. In addition to all of the usual Oriental Shorthair colors and patterns, the British standard also allows green-eyed and odd-eyed whites.

Asian Shorthair

Asian Shorthair is actually a generic term, which refers to an entire group of cats. The cats in the "Asian Group" are all of Burmese type, but of varying colors and patterns. Within the group, some of the specific colors/patterns have their own names, such as Burmilla and Bombay, but all are considered to be part of the Asian Shorthair breed. The breed was developed primarily in Britain. It is not currently recognized by any U.S. Registries.

Asian Semi-Longhair

The Asian Semi-Longhair is like the Asian Shorhair except that they have semi-long hair instead of short hair. These cats are also known by the name Tiffanie. They are recognized in any of the Asian Shorthair or Burmese colors and patterns. Like the Asian Shorthair, the breed was developed in Britain, and is not currently recognized by any U.S. Registries.

Australian Mist

The Australian Mist (formerly known as the Spotted Mist) was developed in Australia, and is descended from the Burmese, Abyssinian, and domestic shorthair. Its alert and friendly personality combines qualities of all three. The Australian Mist is a shorthair cat with a spotted coat, and they are available in a variety of colors. They are not yet recognized by any U.S. Registries.


The Balinese is a semi-longhaired variant of the Siamese. Its coat is of medium length, and very silky and fine. Balinese are found in all the colors and patterns associated with the Siamese breed.

For more information, see the Balinese/Javanese Breed FAQ.


The Bengal is a relatively new breed, descended from a cross between wild Asian Leopard Cats and domestic shorthairs. It is a large spotted cat with a short, glossy coat. Well-bred Bengals are active, intelligent companions, but buyers are advised to use caution since those within 3 generations of the wild outcross may still exhibit the wild temperament of their wild ancestors. Bengals are not accepted in all associations.

For more information, see the Bengal Breed FAQ.


Also known as the "Sacred Cat of Burma", the Birman has a number of fanciful legends associated with its origin. It is a semi-longhaired cat, accepted only in the pointed pattern, but is distinguished from the Balinese and Himalayan not only by its moderately stocky body type, but by its four white feet.

For more information, see the Birman Breed FAQ.


The Bombay's sleek, glossy black coat and copper eyes make it resemble a miniature black panther. It was developed from the Burmese breed and exhibits the muscular body type and affectionate, playful temperament of the Burmese.

In Great Britain, the Bombay is a specific type of Asian Shorthair, and not a separate breed.

For more information, see the Bombay Breed FAQ.

British Angora

See Oriental Longhair.

Brazilian Shorthair

The Brazilian Shorthair is descended from domestic cats brought over to Brazil by European colonists. It is a medium-sized cat, and comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns. It is not widely recognized.

British Shorthair

The British Shorthair is a stocky, sturdy cat resembling a plush teddy bear. It is a calm, quiet companion. While blue is the color most associated with the breed, "Brits" are found in a number of other colors and patterns as well.

For more information, see the British Shorthair Breed FAQ.


The Burmese is an affectionate and even-tempered cat with a sleek, glossy coat. Though the original color is solid sable brown, other colors (not recognized in all assocations) include blue, champagne, platinum and tortie colors. The American Burmese is much rounder in appearance than the European variety.

For more information, see the Foreign Burmese Breed FAQ.


The Burmilla is a specific type of Asian Shorthair, and not a separate breed. Developed from a cross between the Chinchilla Persian and the Burmese, it is known for its shaded pattern, and short, sleek coat. Though silver is perhaps best known, other colors are also available. This is a relatively new variety, and not widely accepted.

California Spangled Cat

The California Spangled Cat is truly a designer cat: it was featured in the Neiman Marcus catalog in the early 90's. Like the Ocicat, it was developed to resemble a spotted wild cat. This breed is not widely recognized.


The Chantilly/Tiffany is a new variety, developed in North America from a pair of chocolate colored cats of unknown ancestry. It should not be confused with the British Tiffanie. Called "The Chocoholics Delight", the Chantilly/Tiffany has soft, silky, semi-long hair, with a slender body, and comes in colors like chocolate, cinnamon, fawn, and lilac, in both solid and tabby patterns. It is not widely recognized.

For more information, see the Chantilly/Tiffany Breed FAQ.


The Chartreux is an old natural breed which originated in France, said to have been raised as a companion by the Carthusian monks. Known for its wooly blue coat, brilliant orange eyes, and smiling expression, it is a sturdy, quiet, sweet-tempered cat.

For more information, see the Chartreux Breed FAQ.


The Chausie is a new breed - a hybrid of domestic cats and the wild jungle cat of Asia. This is a large cat - generally twice as tall as a domestic cat and 2-3 times as heavy. The breeders are striving to maintain the look and coloration of the jungle cat - the large size, tufted ears, and golden, solid black, or black and silver coloring. This breed is still developing and is not widely recognized.


The Cherubim and Honeybear are experimental variations of the Ragdoll. They have not been accepted by any associations.

Colorpoint Longhair

See Himalayan.

Colorpoint Shorthair

The Colorpoint Shorthair has the Siamese personality and body type, and appears in red point, cream point, lynx (tabby) point, and tortie point colors. In some associations these cats are part of the Siamese breed.

Cornish Rex

The Cornish Rex is known for its soft, wavy, curly hair: even the whiskers curl. Its coat feels like crushed velvet to the touch. The breed originated in Cornwall, and is distinct from the Devon Rex, though the coat appears similar to the untrained eye. Today's Cornish Rex has a racy, slender body, and is found in a wide variety of colors and patterns.

For more information, see the Cornish Rex Breed FAQ.


Cymric is the name given to a semi-longhaired variation of the Manx breed. In some associations the name is no longer used, where these cats have been accepted as a separate division of the Manx breed.

Devon Rex

The Devon Rex is noted for its soft, short, naturally curly coat. Its large eyes and ears give it a "pixie-ish" appearance. The Devon Rex originated near a tin mine in Devon, and is distinct from the Cornish Rex, though the coat mutation appears similar. They are available in a variety of patterns and colors.

For more information, see the Devon Rex Breed FAQ.

Egyptian Mau

The Egyptian Mau bears a striking resemblance to paintings of ancient Egyptian cats. These active, athletic cats have the spotted tabby pattern resembling wild cats, but are fully domesticated. They come in colors such as bronze spotted, silver spotted, and black smoke.

European Shorthair

The European Shorthair is descended from Scandinavian domestic cats. It is a very new breed, and still under development, and is not yet recognized.

Exotic Shorthair

The Exotic Shorthair has the body and head type of the Persian, but has a short plush coat. The breed was developed by crossing Persians and various shorthaired breeds such as American Shorthairs, Burmese, British Shorthairs, and Russian Blues. Exotics are available in the same rainbow of colors and patterns as the Persian breed.

For more information, see the Exotic Shorthair Breed FAQ.

Havana Brown

The Havana Brown is noted for its warm chocolate brown color. The British breed bearing this name is a brown variety of the Oriental Shorthair, while the American version is a separate breed with a distinctive body and head type. Though originally named for the brown color, a lavender frost color is also permitted in some associations.


The Himalayan has the stocky body type, long hair, and placid temperament of the Persian, but has the pointed pattern of the Siamese. In some associations, Himalayans are considered part of the Persian breed. In Britain, the Himalayan is known as the Colorpoint Longhair.


See Cherubim.

Japanese Bobtail

The Japanese Bobtail has existed in Japan for at least 1000 years. It is distinguished by its naturally short tail, which resembles a bunny tail. The most commonly seen Japanese Bobtail pattern is the tri-color, or mi-ke (white with red and black) good-luck pattern, but other colors and patterns are also accepted. This breed is recognized in both shorthaired and semi-longhaired varieties.

For more information, see the Japanese Bobtail Breed FAQ.


The Javanese is like the Balinese, but it appears in the lynx (tabby) point and tortie point patterns, as well as additional point colors such as red and cream. In some associations, these cats are part of the Balinese breed.

For more information, see the Balinese/Javanese Breed FAQ.


The Korat is a small cat known for its sleek silvery blue coat, heart-shaped face and prominent gooseberry-green eyes. Korats originated in Thailand, where they are regarded as "good luck" cats. They are energetic and affectionate companions.

For more information, see the Korat Breed FAQ.


The LaPerm is distinguished by its strongly curled coat - hence the name. This was the result of a natural mutation in a domestic shorthair cat. LaPerms can be either longhair or shorthair, and are available in a variety of colors and patterns.


See Persian.

Maine Coon

The Maine Coon is known for its large size, easy-going temperament, and rugged appearance. This native New England breed is well-adapted to that harsh climate, with a heavy, shaggy coat, bushy tail, and tufted ears and toes. Though the brown classic tabby pattern is perhaps the best known, Maine Coons are available in a variety of colors and patterns.

For more information, see the Maine Coon Breed FAQ.


The name "Malayan" is sometimes used to describe Burmese cats of colors other than solid sable.


The Manx is distinguished by a feature it lacks - a tail. This natural mutation is thought to have originated on the Isle of Man, hence the name, Manx. The "Manx gene" produces cats with tails of varying length, from the "longie" (normal tail) to the "stumpy" (short tail) and "rumpy" (no tail). Manx cats are stocky and rounded in appearance, with short backs and long hind legs that make them appear rabbit-like. The thick coat can be either short or semi-long, though in some associations the longhairs are known as Cymrics. Manx are available in a variety of colors and patterns.

For more information, see the Manx Breed FAQ.


The Munchkin is short-legged (like the Dachshund dog), the result of a natural mutation. It is still considered experimental and is not widely recognized.


The Nebelung is a new breed, intended to resemble a long-haired Russian Blue. It is a slender cat with a medium-long, silky blue coat. This breed is not widely recognized.

For more information, see the Nebelung Breed FAQ.

Norwegian Forest Cat

As indicated by the name, the Norwegian Forest Cat originated in Norway. It is a hardy, sturdy cat with a thick, heavy coat, well-equipped to survive in the harsh Scandinavian winters. They have almond-shaped eyes and sweet expressions. "Wegies" are found in most colors and patterns.

For more information, see the Norwegian Forest Cat FAQ.


The Ocicat looks like a small wild spotted cat, but is in fact a domestic breed created by combining the Siamese, Abyssinian, and American Shorthair. "Ocis" are active, affectionate, and very social. They are available in various patterns, though only the spotted patterns may be shown, and in several different colors.

For more information, see the Ocicat Breed FAQ.

Ojos Azules

The Ojos Azules is a new mutation, named for its blue eyes. Normally blue eyes are only found in white or pointed cats, but Ojos Azules come in all colors. Development of the breed is currently on hold. It is still experimental and is not widely recognized.

Oriental Longhair

This breed is the semi-longhaired variety of the Oriental Shorthair. Like the other Oriental breeds, it has the slender body and active, people-oriented temperament of the Siamese. It appears in a variety of solid and tabby colors. This breed is not accepted in all associations.

In Great Britain, this breed is known as the Angora.

For more information, see the Oriental Shorthair/Oriental Longhair Breed FAQ.

Oriental Shorthair

Oriental Shorthairs are like the Siamese in body type and personality, but Orientals do not share the characteristic Siamese coloring (colored points on the head, tail, and legs). They are generally solid or tabby-patterned in a variety of colors.

For more information, see the Oriental Shorthair/Oriental Longhair Breed FAQ.


The Persian is perhaps the most widely recognized cat breed. It is certainly the most numerous of all the breeds. The Persian is known for its extremely long, fluffy coat, very stocky body type, round head, large eyes, and flat face. Persians have a sweet and gentle temperament, and are among the most placid of all breeds. Buyers are advised that the long, soft coat requires daily grooming.

Persians are available in a myriad of colors and patterns. Persians with the pointed ("Siamese") pattern are sometimes called Himalayans. In Britain, the Persian is known as the Longhair, and the Himalayan is known as the Colorpoint Longhair.

Pixie Bob

The Pixie-Bob looks like a miniature bobcat - spotted coat, short tail, etc. According to some, the Pixie-Bobs are a bobcat hybrid. This is a new breed and not widely accepted.


The Ragamuffin is a variant of the Ragdoll. It has not been widely accepted.


The Ragdoll is known for its docile and placid temperament. It is a large, semi-longhaired cat, exhibiting the pointed (Siamese) pattern. They are available in seal, blue, chocolate, and lilac point colors, either with or without white markings on the face and feet. They are not accepted in all associations21

For more information, see the Ragdoll Breed FAQ.

Russian Blue

The Russian Blue is a natural breed thought to have originated in northern Russia. It is noted for its short, plush, silvery blue coat, brilliant green eyes, and semi-foreign body type with long legs and body. This is a graceful, playful breed with a quiet temperament.

For more information, see the Russian Blue Breed FAQ.

Scottish Fold

The Scottish Fold is characterized by its distinctive ears, which are folded forward and down, and by its large, rounded eyes, which give it a sweet, wide-eyed expression. They are mellow and affectionate cats. Scottish Folds are found in both longhair and shorthair varieties, in a great number of color and pattern combinations.

For more information, see the Scottish Fold Breed FAQ.

Selkirk Rex

The Selkirk Rex was developed from a natural mutation that arose in the U.S. Like the other Rex cats, the Cornish Rex and Devon Rex, this breed has a naturally curly coat. Unlike the other Rex breeds, the Selkirk has a rounded, stocky body type and comes in both longhaired and shorthaired varieties. This new breed is not accepted in all associations.

For more information, see the Selkirk Rex Breed FAQ.


The Siamese is distinguished by its brilliant blue eyes and its colored "points" (ears, face, tail, and feet), which provide a striking contrast to its light-colored body. It is vocal, demanding, lively, and affectionate. Today's show Siamese display a very long, slender body type, and a long, wedge-shaped head with huge ears. Some breeders work with a more moderate, rounded type of Siamese, known as the Traditional (Applehead) Siamese.

Siamese were originally recognized in the seal, blue, chocolate, and lilac point colors. In some associations, additional colors and patterns are accepted as part of the Siamese breed, while other associations call these cats Colorpoint Shorthairs.


"Siberian" is the name given to Russia's native semi-longhair. This large, powerful cat is still quite rare in the U.S., and is not yet widely recognized. Brown tabby is the most popular color, but it is available in other colors as well.


The Singapura is a small, short-haired cat distinguished by its large eyes and its unusual warm beige colored and brown ticked coat. They are somewhat rare.


The Snowshoe is a cross between the American Shorthair and the Siamese, producing a sturdy, pointed cat with white markings on the face, chest and feet. This breed is not widely recognized.


The Sokoke is a shorthair cat descended from feral cats found on a farm in Kenya. They have a very unusual and attractive blotched tabby pattern and look a bit like an ocelot. This breed is still under development in Europe and is not reocognized by any U.S. cat associations.

For more information, see the Sokoke Breed FAQ.


The Somali is perhaps most easily described as a long-haired Abyssinian. This lively breed with a bushy tail has sometimes been called the "fox cat". Its dense, soft coat exhibits the ticked tabby pattern - the pattern most commonly known in wild cats. They are available in the blue, fawn, red (sorrel), and ruddy colors.

For more information, see the Somali Breed FAQ.


The Sphynx is distinguished by its hairlessness, though actually it is covered by a soft down. Because the Sphynx lacks hair to absorb natural skin oils, it must be bathed frequently. Despite the lack of hair, coat color and pattern are visible in the downy coat and the underlying skin. The Sphynx is not recognized by all associations.

Spotted Mist

See Australian Mist.


The Sterling was the name proposed for the silver Persian. The decision was made to keep these cats within the Persian breed, and the Sterling name has been dropped.


The Tiffanie is also known as the Asian Semi-Longhair. It is a semi-longhaired cat with Burmese body type, and recognized in any of the Burmese or Asian Shorthair colors and patterns.


Developed in North America, the Chantilly/Tiffany is a silky, semi-longhaired chocolate-colored cat. It is distinct from the British Tiffanie, and not at all related. See Chantilly/Tiffany.


The Tonkinese was produced by crossing the Burmese and Siamese breeds. This playful, people-oriented breed has a moderate body type and a sleek, soft coat, and features a unique pattern known as "mink": it is pointed like the Siamese, but the body is colored in a shade harmonizing with the point color, and the eyes are aqua in shade. "Tonks" are available in a range of colors intermediate between their Burmese and Siamese parent breeds. In some associations non-mink colors and patterns are also accepted.

For more information, see the Tonkinese Breed FAQ.

Traditional (Applehead) Siamese

The Traditional Siamese has a rounder, more moderate body and head type than today's show Siamese. It is a talkative, affectionate cat, and appears in the traditional seal, blue, chocolate, and lilac point colors. In most associations these are registered as Siamese (although they do not meet the current show standard), but in a few associations they are recognized in their own breed category.

For more information, see the Traditional Siamese Breed FAQ.

Turkish Angora

The Turkish Angora is a semi-longhaired cat that originated in Turkey. They are long-bodied and graceful with a fine, silky coat. Though solid white is the most well-known color, they come in a variety of additional colors and patterns.

For more information, see the Turkish Angora Breed FAQ.

Turkish Van

The Turkish Van is a semi-longhaired cat distinguished by its unusual pattern: the cat is white except for a colored tail and color on the head. (This is called the "Van" pattern, and is seen in other breeds as well.) Turkish Vans are said to be fond of water and swimming.

York Chocolate

The York Chocolate is a new breed, developed from domestic, non-pedigreed cats. It is distinguished by its semi-long hair, soft, silky coat, and plumed tail. As its name implies, the cat is known for its chocolate coloring, and comes only in solid chocolate or lavender, or solid chocolate and white or lavender and white bicolor. It is not widely recognized.

What is NOT a breed?

A recognized cat breed is defined by a breed standard, which describes the cat and its physical characteristics in detail. A breed standard includes much more than just color, pattern, or hair length. In fact, color and pattern alone do NOT define a cat breed, since most cat breeds include cats of a wide range of colors and patterns.

The following are NOT cat breeds:

Calicos and Tortoiseshells
Cats of these patterns are found in many breeds, as well as in the domestic population. There is an excellent FAQ at which offers much more information.

Extra-toed, Polydactyl, aka "Hemingway" Cats
Polydactyl cats have extra toes on one or more of their feet. This condition is called polydactyly, and is the result of a not uncommon genetic mutation. The condition is also hereditary, and polydactyl parents often pass the trait to their offspring. It can occur in any cat breed, but it is considered a defect, and these cats should not used for breeding. The cats are sometimes called "Hemingway Cats" because Ernest Hemingway was said to be fond of them, and there is a colony of them around his house on Key West. For more information, see:

Ginger, Marmalade, Orange Tabby Cats
These are reddish-orange tabby cats - cat fanciers refer to the color as "red" rather than "orange". This color is found in many cat breeds, as well as in the domestic population.

Maltese (Gray) Cats
Solid gray cats are sometimes called "maltese" cats. Cat fanciers refer to this color as "blue". While there are several cat breeds (Chartreux, Korat, and Russian Blue) that come ONLY in this color, this color is also found in many other cat breeds as well as in the domestic population.

Tuxedo Cats, Jellicle Cats
These are black and white cats with white paws, chest, and belly, and often some white on the face. This color can be found in many cat breeds, as well as in the domestic population.

What Breed is My Cat?

Less than 1% of the cats in the *world* are pedigreed cats - i.e. cats of a specific breed. Most cats are simply members of that wonderful melting pot called felis domesticus - with its seemingly infinite variety.

What makes a cat a member of a specific breed is its ancestry - its pedigree. If the cat's parents were registered cats of a particular breed, then the cat is a member of that breed. So even though a cat may LOOK like a pedigreed whatever, it isn't considered a member of that breed unless you have the pedigree to back it up.

For more detailed information, read the excellent FAQ at:

Back to the Fanciers homepage

Please direct comments, questions, or corrections to:

Updated 4/17/2004
Laura Gilbreath
Orca Starbuck

Copyright © 1994-2004 by Laura Gilbreath. Content may not be reproduced, disseminated, published, or transferred, in any form or by any means, except with prior written permission.