The most popular breeds remain fairly consistent.
By Michelle Jensen
|Persian cats rank first on the Cat Fancy Association's Top Breeds list.
The most popular breeds range from the classic Persian with its long coat and flat face to the very short coat and distinctly angular face of the Siamese. Other top breeds, according to the Cat Fancy Assn.’s chart of the number of registered breeders, are Maine coon, exotic and ragdoll.
“The standings remain fairly consistent,” says Carol Krza¬nowski, associate director of CFA. “[Persians] have been No. 1 as long as the association has kept records.”
Retailers either selling or adopting out any of these top breeds should make customers aware of each cat’s specific needs.
Popular and Registered
Persians: Though their exact beginnings cannot be traced, the Persian gets its name from its supposed country of origin. Despite their unclear beginnings, it is evident now they are top on the list of popularity.
Persians come in an array of colors, but they always feature the flat, open face and long coat, which needs daily maintenance. A daily run-through with a metal comb should prevent matting and lessen hairballs, and routine bathing and nail clipping will keep the coat healthy.
Since they have large eyes, a certain amount of tearing is normal and should be cleaned as needed. Retailers should advise customers with Persians to establish the bathing, brushing, face-washing and nail-clipping routine early in the kitten’s life.
Most likely to be seen curled up on a sofa or in a lap, this breed carries itself in a gentle manner. They prefer a calm and stable atmosphere, but can adapt to louder and more active households when necessary.
They are not excessive climbers and are relatively quite. When they do “talk,” it is with a rather soft, musical voice. It is not unusual for them to live up to 20 years, but average is about 15.
Maine Coon: The second most popular breed contrasts with the Persian in many ways including coat maintenance and body structure.
The Maine coon is a native American longhaired cat originally recognized as a specific breed in Maine. They were loved for their mousing skills, and the harsh winters developed the breed into a sturdy cat.
The Maine coon generally has large tufted lynx-like ears, round tufted feet and a long bushy tail. These big-boned cats can reach up to 18 pounds. They mature slowly, and don’t reach full maturity until about 3 years of age.
Featuring many different colors and patterns, the Maine’s smooth coat requires minimal maintenance—a weekly brushing is sufficient.
Maine’s are intelligent cats, and while they like to be near their owners, they are not as people-dependent as other breeds. They are not exceptionally vocal, but have small, quiet voices.
Good with children, dogs and other cats, the Maine coon is a sought-after family pet.
Exotic: The exotic is most easily defined as a shorthaired Persian. The Persian’s appearance and personality are combined with the convenience of a short coat.
The coat is thick, plush and short, giving the exotic a teddy bear look. It requires little combing and does not mat or tangle. This breed is sometimes referred to as “the lazy man’s Persian.”
Like Persians, this breed is laid back and not extremely vocal. They are generally a bit more interested and attentive than their Persian counterparts, however, because of the shorthaired breeds that were used as outcrosses to introduce the short coat gene.
Siamese: Originally from Siam (now Thailand), Siamese were first exported to England in the late 1800s. There they produced quite a mixed reaction, as the British were only familiar with British shorthairs and Persians. But this cat worked its way up to a very popular status.
Siamese: The Siamese features a very short, light coat with pointed markings that range from seal to lilac. They have blue eyes and one of two types of body structures—“applehead” (a muscular-bodied cat with a round head) or the modern show type (a long, sleek body featuring a wedge-shaped head). Both body types feature the same colorings and some cats are darker than others, depending on the climate in which they live.
This breed, unlike the previous three, is very vocal. Its mew has been compared to a baby’s cry, and Siamese cats constantly demand communication from their owners.
Top 10 Breeds
2. Maine coon
8. American shorthair
Source: CFA December 2006 registration totals
Generally good family cats, this breed is active, loves to play and can usually be taught to fetch or walk on a leash. It is often said to have a dog-like personality.
The Siamese can use a light brushing about once a week to reduce possible hairballs.Ragdolls
: Established in the 1960s by a breeder in Riverside, Calif., the ragdoll comes almost entirely from free-roaming cats.
Like the Siamese, ragdolls are a pointed breed with blue eyes. Color combinations include three patterns—mitted, bicolor and colorpoint.
The ragdoll coat features semi-long hair and requires minimal grooming with a steel comb to remove any tangles.
Bred to be large and affectionate cats, ragdolls are social with their humans. They generally do not extend their claws while playing and they are not excessive jumpers. Females can reach up to 15 pounds at maturity and males may reach 20 pounds.
Popular but Unregistered
Despite the popularity of purebred cats, retailers should not underestimate the appeal of the regular domestic shorthaired or longhaired cat. Some retailers take in and sell kittens from local customers.
“We sell cats and kittens we receive from local people who bring them to us,” says Jim Gentile, owner of The Pet Shop in Allston, Mass. “Some people don’t believe in fixing their animals, so we take them in and sell them.”
Lindy Jacobsen, manager of Pet Safari in Phoenix, says her store does the same thing.
“We take kittens from customers who bring them in and say they can’t keep them any longer, and they sell well,” she says.
Other retailers host adoptions of cats and kittens from rescue organizations.
The same general rules for each breed apply to domestic cats. The longer the hair, the more grooming required and the more tools necessary, such as metal combs, soft brushes and shampoo for bathing. All cats should receive routine nail clippings. <HOME>
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