Though 95% of their DNA is similar to that of tigers, cats are comparatively cool-tempered lovely creatures with desirable personalities – generally sociable, friendly, and outgoing. Nonetheless, our feline pals are divided into various breeds, just like other groups of animals, and each breed differs from another based on appearance, temperament, or traits. But how many cat breeds are there?
Which of these are more popular or common? We will find the answers in this article.
How Many Cat Breeds Are There?
There are about 45 to 73 different recognized cat breeds existing today in the world. However, before going into the depth of the answer, a few things need to be clarified.
First, the answer will revolve around domestic cats only. And second, recognized breeds mostly include pedigreed cats, i.e., those bred by human control – thus giving them specific characteristics and appearance.
Having said that, finding out how many cat breeds are there depends upon the source of information and the standards set by different registries. Although the Encyclopedia Britannica lists only 15 cat breeds, there is no consensus among the cat-related organization and associations over this figure because every such entity has different qualification criteria for cat breeds to register. Similarly, there are a lot of non-pedigreed cats that have the characteristics of more than one breed and hence lack the unified standards set by these organizations for each separate breed.
The best way to answer the question, therefore, remains to know what the most renowned cat organizations and registries in the world have to say.
The International Cat Association
The International Cat Association (TICA) is the largest registry of pedigreed cats in the world – it recognizes 73 cat breeds. In the shows sponsored by it, the TICA also recognizes non-pedigreed household kitties into a different class.
The Cat Fanciers’ Association
By recognizing 45 pedigreed breeds, the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) is the largest cat registration organization in the United States. However, the organization acknowledges the possibility of more breeds existing. Some relatively lesser-known breeds in the list include the Korat, the Lykoi, and the Toybob.
Fédération Internationale Féline
Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFe) has 40 member countries and recognizes 48 different cat breeds. The organization has listed some seemingly same breeds separately. For instance, the Cymric and the Manx only differ in their coat lengths, but the registration body classifies them as two distinct cat breeds.
Do New Breeds Add to Cat Registries?
Usually, the registries stay the same; nevertheless, new breeds can be added for the sake of registration. For example, the CFA expanded its registry by recognizing the Khao Manee and the Lykoi back in 2018.
It is not a piece of cake for cat breeds to make it to reputable registries. Since all cats ultimately converge on the same line when their ancestry is pursued, there are a lot of discussions about whether a new breed is actually ‘new’ or simply the continuation of the old one before the decision of registry expansion is made. Similarly, some organizations, including the CFA, maintain strict rules and standards which delay the registration process. For instance, the TICA has recognized the Serengeti cat while the CFA is yet to do it.
Some popular and recognized newest cat breeds include:
- The American Curl
- The Aphrodite
- The Highlander
- The LaPerm
- The Munchkin
- The Peterbald
- The Tennessee Rex
- The Toybob
- The Toyger
What Breeds Make the Most Popular Cats?
As per the CFA, the Ragdoll is the most popular cat breed in the world. This breed is followed by the Maine Coon cat, Exotic cat, and Persian cats.
However, generally, the most popular breeds all over the world in the list of recognized pedigreed cats include:
- The Devon Rex
- The American and British Shorthair
- The Abyssinian
- The Sphynx
- The Bengal
- The Siamese
- The Himalayan
How to Tell What Breed Is a Cat?
It is difficult to tell what breed your cat belongs to unless she is purebred. If that is not the case, there is a high probability that she is a domestic long or short-haired cat. You can search over the internet to find out which breed has a resemblance in features to your cat. Your focus should be on the coat type and color, ear shape and size, overall body size and weight, eye color, and tail appearance. For example, if your cat has blue eyes, is pale or white, and has color patches on the face, ear, legs, and tails, she is likely a Birman cat. However, a somewhat accurate answer can be provided by the DNA test.
Wisdom Panel Complete Cat DNA Test Kit can detect over 70 different cat breeds. Besides, it can also be used for undergoing 45 different health tests on your cat.
Did You Know?95% of domestic house cats in the United States belong to either domestic long-haired or short-haired breeds.
Cats vs. Dogs: Why Are There Fewer Cat Breeds?
Though there exist less than 100 recognized cat breeds, there are about 197 dog breeds registered by the American Kennel Club. Hence, it is evident that cat breeds are fewer than dogs.
The reason lies in history: since human beings have not domesticated cats for the sake of individual purposes, interest was not shown in breeding them for specific tasks. On the other hand, many canines were bred in the past for individual purposes, most commonly including hunting and herding. As a result, more dog breeds evolved over time.
What Is the History of Cats?
As per National Geographic, cats appeared near human settlements, eating rodents that would impact the grain stores. It is believed that the first feline domestication occurred in Egypt around nine and a half thousand years ago.
Though it is not possible to tell exactly why the first domestication occurred, experts believe that it was due to some religious reasons, as cats were venerated in ancient Egypt and even ancient Greece. By the 16th century, domesticated house cats were almost found everywhere in Europe and eventually made their way into the New World – the Americas.
During the 19th century, the deliberate breeding of cats started. Cat fanciers took several breeds and mated them together to form cats of specific appearance and personality traits.
Around One-Third of US Homes Keep Cats!34% of the homes in the United States have feline family members. This makes up to 90 million domesticated cats in the country.
Conclusion: How Many Cat Breeds Are There?
There are up to 73 cat breeds in the world as of 2022 though this number may vary with different sources. Such discrepancy occurs mainly due to the difference in standards and criteria set by cat registries before granting a distinct cat a separate breed status. This very reason has also made the registration of new cat breeds a slow process.
Although it is undeniably alluring to own a furry cat pal, make sure you give it ‘purr-fect’ care regardless of its breed!