By R. I. Pocock, F.L.S., F.Z.S., Superintendent of the Zoological Society's Gardens.
[Received February 5, 1907]
Proc. Zool. Soc - 1907, No. X. 10


Domestic Cats in Great Britain are classified by the National Cat Club under two headings: — (1) Short-haired; (2) Long- haired, otherwise called "Persians" or "Angoras." The "Persians" are subdivided according to colour into "Blacks," "Smokes," "Sables," "Blues," "Oranges," "Creams," "Whites," "Tabbies," "Tortoise-shells," &c. The "Short-haired" are similarly distinguished, after the elimination of certain types like " Siamese," "Manx," and "Abyssinians," to which special classes are assigned. ["Cats and all about Them," 1902; and "The Book of the Cat," 1903, by Frances Simpson.]

From the exhibitors' and breeders' points of view this arrangement has much to recommend it, and probably supplies the most feasible and satisfactory method of classifying the various breeds that are set side by side for comparison. The animals must be sorted out upon some basis, and it would perhaps be impossible to suggest a substitute that would meet the requirements of fanciers equally well.

But, from the standpoint of affinity and descent, I think it is open to the criticism that a primary importance is given to characters like the length and thickness of the fur, the tint of the ground-colour, and the absence of the tail, which can be shown to have no great systematic value; whereas a quite subsidiary significance is attached to the nature of the pattern of the stripes, a character which should be of the greatest moment in differentiating the breeds, if confidence be placed in the analogy supplied by existing species of the genus Felis.

It may fairly be asked, however, why a greater taxonomic value is claimed for the "pattern" than for the three characteristics mentioned above upon which fanciers establish their breeds. The answers are briefly these: —

1. The shortness of the hair in tropical Leopards and Tigers as compared with those that come from colder countries shows that no great systematic importance can be attached to length of coat. The difference between the extremes of long- and short-haired Domestic Cats is admittedly much greater than that between long- and short-haired Leopards or Tigers: but all gradations between "Persian" and ordinary Cats exist, so that no hard-and-fast line can be drawn between them; and probably no one doubts that the luxuriant growth characteristic of the former breed has been preserved and increased by artificial selection. In the matter of coat, the adaptability of Domestic Cats to changed conditions is proved by the evolution of a thick-haired breed in the Pittsburgh refrigerators [Quoted from Lydekker, 'Cats, &c.' p. 159 (1896) (Allen's Nat. Library)] and in the arctic island of St. Paul [See H. C. Marsh, 'Darwinism,' p. 21 (1883)], and by the alleged shortness and stiffness of the fur in Domestic Cats from Mombasa in East Africa [Darwin, 'Animals and Plants under Domestication,' p. 58 (ed. 1905)].

2. The conclusion that the shortness or complete absence of the tail in so-called "Manx Cats" has been brought about by selective breeding from favoured sports must be regarded as beyond dispute. There is no such thing as a tailless species of Felis amongst fossil or recent forms. The tail is short in Lynxes, but it cannot be claimed that an intermixture with any known species of Lynx has contributed to the abbreviation of the tail in the "Manx." When and where this breed arose has been much debated. Some have suggested Spain as its original country, others China. But in all probability the "sport" has appeared independently and been preserved by selective crossing on many occasions and in many places.

The liability of the tail to modification in Domestic Cats is shown by the frequency with which it is kinked or twisted as well as shortened in Burmese, Siamese, and Malaccan specimens; and by the stunting it acquired in a few generations in the Cats, above alluded to, that were bred in the frigid climate of St. Paul's Island and in the cold-storage warehouses of Pittsburgh.

3. With respect to tint or the ground-colour as a whole, irrespective of pattern, it must be remembered that albinotic and melanotic "sports" may arise in almost any group of Mammals. Amongst the Cats, albinos appear to be rare in a state of nature, probably in part on account of a correlated inherent delicacy in organisation, accompanied possibly by defective sight or hearing; probably in part on account of the conspicuousness of the coloration making capture of prey and escape from enemies, especially during cubhood, difficult. There are one or two records, however, of albino Tigers — the species, be it noted, in which the young after leaving the mother's protection are more capable of taking care of themselves and less liable to attack than any other Cat, with the possible exception of Lions. Melanisms are far more frequently met with in the genus. Black Leopards are familiar to all; black Jaguars are not uncommon, and black Tigers, Caffre Cats, and Servals have been recorded.

In other species the tint may be dimorphic, dark grey or dark brown and red or chestnut examples being about equally abundant, as in the S. American Felis jaguarondi, the West African Felis aurata, the Oriental F. temmincki, and the Bornean F. badia.

Thus in the genus Felis colour-variation in a state of nature may depart from the normal in the direction of "black," or "red," or "white," without respect to locality. Moreover, geographical variation also attesting inherent instability of tint is met with. The greyness of the Persian Leopard as compared with the rich tawny yellow of South Indian specimens is a case in point.

The tints of Domestic Cats themselves establish the same conclusion. Between "blacks" and "whites" all intermediates seem to exist. "Blues" are self-coloured slate or lavender-grey cats and appear to be merely stages in the direction of "blacks." "Smokes" are darkish grey or blackish cats with the basal part of the hair white. "Silvers" are the "palest conceivable edition" of Smokes. "Reds,'' "Yellows," and "Creams" are variations from the normal in the direction of "Whites."

4. On the other hand, notwithstanding individual and local variations, the pattern formed by spots or stripes in existing species of Felis is on the whole constant. Stripes may break up into spots or spots may run together to form stripes, or both spots and stripes may be altogether fugitive. Yet even in extreme and rare cases of this nature, the general "character" of the pattern, when detectable, remains the same, and there is abundance of evidence that the animals breed true to the local type. Nor, so far as I am aware, is there any reason to suppose that dimorphism in pattern ever occurs or has ever occurred in any species of the genus Felis.

It is needless to say more in support of the contention that if a decided difference in the "patterns" of Domestic Cats exists, it must be regarded as furnishing a surer basis for their classification than the length of the hair, the tint of the coat, or the stunting of the tail. It may also be claimed with assurance that the pattern supplies a more important clue to the ancestry of Domestic Cats than the features just mentioned.

Probably no one will dispute that all breeds of Domestic Cats have been derived from one or more than one ancestral type that was marked with bands or spots. This opinion is supported by two considerations. The first is this: spotting or banding of one type or another characterises the great majority of the existing species of Cats, using this term in its broad sense as co-extensive with the genus Felis [I purposely ignore here the subgeneric divisions of Felis adopted in Trouessart's ‘Catalogue of Mammalia,' because I cannot admit that these connote, at least in all cases, natural assemblages of species] . A few self-coloured Cats, like Lions, Pumas, Caracals, and others, exist; but their descent from striped or spotted forms is attested in most cases by the presence on the cubs [Young Caracals are not spotted or striped, but resemble their parents] of markings which are subsequently lost or by indications of them, especially on the legs or lower parts of the body, in the adults.

The second pertinent point is the prevalence of stripes forming a pattern of one kind or another, both in "Persians," "Short-haired," and "Manx" breeds, and the difficulty breeders experience in eradicating these markings in their efforts to preserve a particular self-coloured type. Frequently at all events the so- called "blotched" pattern can be detected in certain lights even in "Whites" and "Blacks," the two varieties which stand at the extremes of the colour-mutations of the diverse domestic breeds.

Assuming, then, that domestic breeds are descended from one or more than one striped or spotted species, we may safely set aside the self-coloured forms as derivatives and consider only the striped or spotted types in looking for the origin and for a reliable basis for the classification of Domestic Cats.

Domestic Cats in which the markings on the skin form definite patterns are called comprehensively "Tabbies." Of "Tabby" Cats, as fanciers well know, there are two kinds, the "striped" and the "blotched." These are not, however, regarded as different breeds. Nevertheless the patterns appear to be fundamentally distinct from each other in the sense that the differences between them are not differences of degree, but of kind. Without assuming the existence in the past of a number of intermediate stages which do not appear to exist in the present, it is impossible to reduce them to a common plan and it is difficult to see how one can have arisen from the other unless per saltum [The differences between these two types are described and figured by Mr. T. S. Rope ('Zoologist,' 1881, pp. 353-337). Perhaps the omission of this paper from the 'Zoological Record' may explain in part the want of consideration the facts have received from most recent zoological writers on this subject.].

One or the other of these patterns, when the pattern is traceable at all, may be seen in Cats of the short-haired, long-haired, or Manx breeds, whether the ground-colour be grey or red, or black or white, or any other tint. Neither at Cats' Homes nor at Cat Shows nor in the streets have I seen one cat out of the hundreds observed in which the pattern could not be assigned at once to one or the other of these types. Here, then, is evidence for the existence, side by side, of two fundamentally distinct kinds of "Domestic Cats." These I propose to regard as species, trusting to the analogy supplied by wild forms of the genus Fells and knowing no reason for thinking, much less proof of the fact, that one has been derived from the other, either as a sudden sport or by gradual modifications under the influence of selective breeding or by inter-breeding with any wild species of the genus.

The two types are described in some detail below (see pp. 151- 153). They may be very briefly diagnosed as follows: —

a. Sides of the body, from the shoulder to the root of the tail, marked with narrow wavy vertical stripes which show a tendency, especially on the thighs, to break up into spots; no broad latero-dorsal stripe . . . . . Striped "Tabby."

b. Sides of the body marked with three usually obliquely longitudinal stripes forming the so-called "spiral," "horseshoe," or "circular" pattern of fanciers; a broad latero-dorsal stripe on each side of the narrow median spinal stripe . . . . . . Blotched "Tabby."

It is difficult to ascertain from the writings of earlier naturalists whether they were familiar with these two types of Cats or not. There is certain evidence that the blotched or true "Tabby" Cat was domesticated in Sweden and known to Linnaeus as early as 1746. And that the Striped Cat was also domesticated in Europe at a still earlier date is proved, I think, beyond doubt by the figures published in Gesner's Hist. Anim. p. 345 (1551), and in Johnston's ' Quadrupeds,' pl. Ixxii. p. 126 (1657). If these and later post-Linnaean authors distinguished the two Cats, it must be inferred that they attached no significance to the difference of pattern, but regarded it as of the same value as the difference of colour and as the asymmetrical blotching of piebald specimens. Pennant, for example, speaking of the Tame Cat, says that it differs only "in color and some other trifling accidents" from the Wild Cat (British Zoology, vol. i. p. 94, 1812), and Kerr describes the stripes on the sides of the Wild Cat as being "perpendicular or spiral" (Anim. Kingd. p. 152, 1792), thinking apparently that the blotched "Tabby" was a domesticated form of the European Wild Cat and that the shape and direction of the stripes were subject to variation and of no particular moment.

Even the writings of later authors leave them open to suspicion on this point. Gray, for example, pointed out that a Domestic Cat brought by Darwin from S. America was remarkable for its striking likeness to the Caffre Cat. But there is nothing surprising in this if, as I suppose from the description, the Cat in question was merely a slightly aberrant example of the Striped "Tabby" breed. This Gray could hardly have failed to detect had he been familiar with the Domestic Cats of London. Again, since Blanford and Mivart both regarded Indian specimens of the "Striped breed," known as F. torquata, as examples of a genuine wild species, it may be inferred that they were both ignorant of the fact that Cats inseparable from that type, as figured by Cuvier, might be seen any day in London, where and at the time when their volumes, below (p. 159, footnote) cited, were being written.

Setting aside breeders and owners of "Fancy Cats," who could hardly be expected to appreciate the significance of the differences of pattern above described, although well aware of their existence, two scientific writers on Cats must be mentioned as clearly apprehending the fact. One of these is Rope, whose paper, published in 1881, has been already mentioned; the other is that astute observer Blyth, who so long ago as 1845 [ Journ. As. Soc. Bengal, xiv. pt. i. pp. 342-343] pointed out that the two types of pattern are found in the Domestic Cats of Europe. In an additional note on the subject published in 1856 [Op. cit. xxv. p. 443.], he spoke of the true Tabby pattern as being possibly a "modification (and a very remarkable one) of the markings of the wild F. sylvestris of Europe."

Rope apparently did not know of Blyth's papers. All the more remarkable is it therefore that both authors describe this Tabby as being marked with pale streaks on a dark ground; and this description was repeated by Hamilton in his notice of Rope's paper. It is obvious, however, that no Cat can be scientifically described as marked in this way. Hence it is possible that the misleading terminology employed by Blyth, Rope, and Hamilton may have suggested to the readers of their writings that the blotched "Tabby" markings belong to the same category as the piebald or skewbald, usually asymmetrical coloration of black-and-white or brown-and- white cats, dogs, horses, cattle, and other tamed or domestic mammals infected with either melanism, albinism, or erythrism, or with any two of these taints, or with the three combined. This may partly account for the fact that the difficulty of deriving the blotched Tabby pattern from that of F. ocreata or F. sylvestris, and of accounting for the origin of the breed, seems never to have been fully realised, or, if realised, never seriously faced. And doubtless a contributory cause to this result has been the artificial character of the classification of Domestic Cats adopted by fanciers, which gives emphasis to valueless features and obscures the fundamental importance of the pattern.


In the foregoing and following pages the European Wild Cat is referred to as Felis sylvestris. This requires explanation, since the species in question has, by almost common consent, been hitherto called Felis catus.

In my opinion there is no possibility of evading the conclusion that the Cat to which Linnaeus gave the name catus was not the European Wild Cat, but the Domestic Cat of the blotched Tabby kind. In the 10th edition of the 'Systema,' 1758, accepted as the starting-point in zoological nomenclature, Felis catus is characterised in such terms as to leave no room for doubt on this head. In the first place, there is a back reference to the 'Fauna Suecica,' 1746, whereof Felis catus it is said "habitat in domibus; cicurata: exoticae originis" [lives in houses; tame: exotic origin]. In the second place, the diagnosis in the 'Systema' runs as follows: — "Felis caudata, elongata; corpore fasciis nigricantibus; dorsalibus longitiidinalibus tribus; lateralibus spiralibus" [Cat with long tail, black body markings, three longitudinal stripes on the back, spirals on the sides]. The spiral lateral stripes are obviously those that form the so-called "circle" or "horseshoe" characteristic of the blotched "Tabby"; and the three dorsal longitudinal stripes are also typical of that animal. This description is totally inapplicable to the European Wild Cat, which moreover does not occur in Scandinavia, and was apparently unknown to Linnaeus, except from books. It is equally inapplicable to the "Striped" race of Domestic Cats. On the other hand, it exactly fits the blotched Tabby Domestic Cat, and was quite likely taken from a specimen lying on Linnaeus's hearthrug at the time.

There is no doubt from the context and the bibliography in the 10th ed. of the 'Systema' that Linnaeus believed this Cat and the European Wild Cat to be the same species of animal; but that error does not in any way affect the certainty of the conclusion that he knew only the domestic blotched "Tabby" and described it as catus.

The name "domestica" must, I think, be discarded as a synonym of catus, since both Schreber and Erxleben, the two earliest post-Linnaean authors to use that term, quote under the heading domestica Linnaeus's diagnosis of catus. And since all the so-called Tortoise-shell Cats that I have seen belong to this type, the name hispanica Erxl. may also be placed amongst the synonyms of catus; vulgaris Fischer is also a synonym.

The name catus" then, is no longer admissible for the European Wild Cat. For this species there are two names available, which were apparently published in the same year; and between these a choice has to be made. These are: —

ferus Erxleben, Syst. Regni Anim. i. pp. 518 & 522 (1777).
sylvestris Schreber, Saug. iii. p. 397 (1777), pi. cvii. A. (date ?) [For discussion of the dates relating to Schreber's work see Mr. C. D, Sherborn's paper, P. Z. S. 1891, pp. 588-589.]

The synonymy of Felis catus ferus published by Erxleben shows that he followed Linnaeus in regarding the European Wild Cat as what may be called the "agriotype" of the various domestic breeds, such as domestica [common shorthair], angorensis [Angora/longhair], hispanica [tortoiseshell shorthair], and caerulea [Chartreux], described on pp. 520-522; and the excellent diagnosis of the Wild Cat published on p. 522 beginning Catus Ferus major, proves that he was acquainted with that species, and applied the name ferus to it, and not to feral examples of a domestic breed.

But for the following reasons I think sylvestris should be preferred: — (1) Schreber adopted this name from Brisson's Regn. Anim., Quadr. p. 265, which, being published in 1756, is pre-Linnaean so far as nomenclature is concerned. Nevertheless, the diagnosis of F. sylvestris suggests that Brisson distinguished this Cat from the domestic catus of Linnaeus. (2) Erxleben quotes both Brisson's and Schreber's works in his bibliographical synonymy of F. catus ferus. Of Schreber's work he correctly cites pl. cvii. A. inscribed Felis Catus Linn. ferus. Hence I infer that he saw or knew by hearsay of this plate. I cannot, however, find proof that it was published, properly speaking, before the issue of the text in 1777. Since, therefore, the name sylvestris in the text has page priority over the name ferus on the plate, preference should be given to the former and the latter regarded as a synonym. (3) The name sylvestris has been used for this Cat by some modern writers, notably by Blyth and Hamilton. For these reasons I think it advisable to adopt sylvestris instead of ferus as the specific name for the European Wild Cat.

Apart from the convenience of having a name for a Cat which not uncommonly occurs feral in the tropics, the determination of the correct name for the "Striped" Domestic Cat is a matter of no great moment. Moreover, it is practically impossible to settle with certainty which name should be chosen out of the many given by earlier writers to various domestic breeds in different parts of the world [These names have to be catalogued to prevent their inadmissible use in a different sense by later writers (see Sherborn, Index Anim. p. 187, 1902)]. In addition to domestica and hispanica, already referred to, the following are the most important: — caerulea Erxl. for the "Blue Cat," which seems to be a pale or incompletely melanistic sport perhaps of the striped, perhaps of the blotched type; angorensis Gmel., for the long- haired breeds, which were no doubt originally of the "Striped" type; ruber id., for a red variety with a dark dorsal stripe; sinensis Kerr, for a Chinese race alleged to have pendulous ears; aureus id. ( = longiceps Bechst.), for a yellowish, short-legged, long-headed, sharp-nosed breed, said to inhabit New Spain; madagascarensis id., for a Madagascar Cat with a twisted tail; striata Bechst., for a black-striped "Cyprian" Cat, which is diagnosed as follows: — " Mit schwarzen Streifen auf hellem Grunde, die auf dem Rucken gerade, auf den Schenkeln aber gekrummt sind" [With black stripes on a light background, straight on the back but curved on the thighs] (Bechstein, Pennant's 'Uebersicht, etc' ii. p. 679, 1800). In a general way this description applies to both types of Cats under discussion, and perhaps on the whole more closely to the "blotched" than to the "striped" breed. But if the "Cyprus" Cat came originally from Cyprus, a conclusion by no means justified by the epithet, it belonged in all probability, as did the Angora Cat, to the "Striped" and not to the "Blotched" type [See Temminck, Mon. Mamm. i. p. 128 (1827); and Fischer, Syn. Mamm. p. 208 .(1829).].

But whatever opinion may be held with regard to angorensis and striata, there is no doubt that examples of this Cat, whether feral or not, furnished types for the following forms: —

F. torquata F. Cuvier, Hist. Nat. Mamm. pi. 126 (1826), recorded from Nepaul, Bengal, &c. (see infra, p. 165).
F. inconspicua Gray, Charlesworth's Mag. N. H. p. 577 (1836).
F. huttoni Blyth, J. A. S. B. xv. p. 169 (1846), xvii. p. 247, xxii. p. 581, from Candahar.
F. ocreata agria Bate, P. Z. S. 1906, p. 317, from Khania in Crete.

The figure of F. torquata and the description of F. huttoni leave no room for doubting the identity of the Cats; and the types of inconspicua and ocreata agria are in the British Museum and have been compared by me with English examples of Striped Cats.

This type (torquata) may be described as follows: — Ground-colour typically iron-grey or yellow-grey. The four cephalic and cervical stripes sometimes distinct, sometimes indistinct. The ad- median cervical stripes not abbreviated on the anterior area of the nape; the external cervical stripes not diverging from the middle line on its posterior area. Dorsal area of body from the shoulders to the root of the tail darker than the sides, the pigment often resolvable into three narrow, almost contiguous stripes, two laterals more or less interrupted, and a more complete median which is usually continued down the middle line of the tail. On the summit of the shoulder the lateral stripes are frequently thicker and more heavily pigmented than they are posteriorly. From the dark dorsal area on to the belly pass a number of vertical wavy transverse stripes, which are usually more distinct on the thoracic than on the abdominal region, where, as also on the thighs, they are more or less broken up into spots, which may or may not show signs of transverse linear arrangement. The neck and the shoulders may be striped or merely speckled. The fore and hind limbs are transversely barred; the former are typically black behind up to the wrist and the latter up to the hock. The tail also is transversely barred above, sometimes throughout its length, sometimes only in its distal portion, the tip being black. In specimens that I regard as typical of this Cat the pattern is very similar to that of the European Wild Cat (F. sylvestris). In others the transverse stripes break up into more or fewer, larger or smaller spots. In others the spots are evanescent, the fur being merely "ticked," a gradation being traceable from the first or sylvestris type to the last, which are, I believe, the so- called "Abyssinian" and "Ticked" breeds of the fanciers. I have obtained all these types from the Cats' Home in Camden Town, London, in the space of a few weeks, as well as a fine red variety of the spotted kind. With the exception of the sylvestris- type, all these phases can be matched approximately in the series of skins of F. ocreata preserved in the British Museum. Specimens which are intermediate between the "spotted" and the "ticked" types— those, that is to say, in which the spots are very small and closely set, giving a blackish appearance to the skin except on the legs and ventral surface where the stripes are apparent — deviate from the normal in exactly the same way as the two South-African Leopards described by Dr. Gunther differ from normally spotted Leopards. [P. Z.S. 1885, p. 243, pi. xvi.; id. op. cit. 1886, p. 203, fig. See also W. L. Sclater, Manim. S. Afr. i. p. 36, fig. 10 (1900).]

In the British Museum Collection there are skins of this Domestic Cat from such widely separated localities as Crete, India, Madagascar, Celebes, and Mexico. The specimen from Celebes was shot on Bonthain Peak. It is noticeable that its stripes and spots are browner than in typical European examples; and in the skull the posterior portion of the nasals is more compressed and the interparietal crest is higher and traceable as a ridge all along the parietals. The narrowness of the nasals recalls that of the skulls of two Siamese Cats that I have seen (cf. infra, p. 163), and the height of the interparietal crest is paralleled in the skull of a rufescent Indian Cat t which formerly belonged to Mr. H. C. Brooke and was, understand, a well- known prize-winner at Cat Shows some few years ago [This Cat, Mr. Brooke tells me, was brought as a kitten from a hotel in Bombay.]. For further information about torquata, see below, pp. 164-165.

The following description, taken from a number of skins, will perhaps convey a tolerably clear conception of the plan (cf. text- fig. 60, p. 154) to which the patterns of F. catus, however diversified in detail, are reducible: —

Ground-colour typically brownish or grey, frequently washed or clouded with blackish. Head and face normally striped. The internal or admedian cervical stripes abbreviated on the fore part of the nape, and entering the anterior apex of a diamond-shaped space (c.sp.), which is bordered laterally by the posterior ends of the external cervical stripes and the anterior ends of a pair of broad suprascapular stripes (supr.sc). The latter lie near the middle line on the summit of the shoulder, and diverge forwards to meet at an obtuse angle the posterior ends of the backwardly-diverging external cervical stripes. From this angle stripes pass obliquely forwards and downwards on to the sides of the neck and throat, the posterior of them lying in front of the shoulder and forming a throat collar. From the suprascapular stripe one broad vertical stripe, the scapular stripe (sc), passes over the shoulder and loses itself in the uppermost of the transverse brachial stripes of the fore leg. This scapular stripe forms the anterior border of the postscapular space (p. sc.sp.), which is bounded behind by a second broad vertical stripe, the postscapular stripe (p.sc), descending from the posterior end of the suprascapular stripe.

Extending along the middle of the spine from the posterior apex of the cervical space there is a very narrow spinal or median dorsal stripe (sp.), which passes down the middle line of the tail. Running forwards on each side of this from the root of the tail to the posterior end of the suprascapular stripe, which it frequently joins, there is a very broad latero-dorsal stripe (lat.dors.). Beneath or externally to this on the body there are three broad stripes whose direction is obliquely longitudinal. The upper of these, the supero-lateral (sup.lat.), forms a bold downward curve posteriorly, while the inferior, the infero-lateral (inf.lat.), curves upwards anteriorly. They thus partially circumscribe an elliptical or subcircular area, in which lies the short and broad medio-lateral stripe (med.lat.), which frequently has the form of a large spot or blotch. These three stripes form the so-called horseshoe," "circular," or "spiral" mark characteristic of this type of Domestic Cat.

On the thighs there are broad transverse stripes, the upper of which, the femoral stripe, extends obliquely downwards and forwards from a point beneath the posterior end of the latero-dorsal stripe to a point beneath the downcurved posterior end of the supero-lateral stripe. In the space between the three stripes just mentioned lies a large spot or stripe, which frequently fuses with the femoral stripe. On both fore and hind legs the stripes thin out and die away towards the paws, which are typically black behind up to the wrist and hock. The tail is black at the tip, and marked throughout with transverse black bars, which are very broad where they touch the median caudal stripe.

Text-fig. 60. Diagram of the Pattern of the Blotched Tabby (Felis catus).
c.sp., cervical space; p.sc.sp., postscapular space; sc., scapular stripe; supr.sc, supra-scapular stripe; p.sc, postscapular stripe; sp., spinal stripe; lat.dors., latero- dorsal stripe; sup.lat., supero-lateral stripe; med.Iat., medio-lateral stripe; inf.lat., infero-lateral stripe.

The pattern of this Cat varies considerably in detail with respect to the width and degree of fusion of the stripes. The cervical and postscapular spaces are sometimes hardly apparent, and the stripes may widen and fuse to such an extent that an almost totally black Cat results. It is possible that the blackness of some Cats is attributable to this process; but usually the blackness is due to the melanism of the ground-colour, the stripes retaining their normal width and being detectable under reflected light by the greater glossiness of the hair. The stripes in white Cats are often visible in the same way. Tortoise-shell variations of this Cat are nothing but partially erythristic or erythro-melanistic sports, frequently with pronounced albinism affecting particularly the legs, inferior areas, and even other parts of the body. In simple cases the blotching may be seen to be due to the red tint occurring only on portions of the stripes, the remaining portions of which retain their normal black hue. The result is a mixture composed of red and black stripes on a yellowish ground-colour. But in more complicated cases the red and black also invade the ground-colour in patches, either the red or the black, but more commonly the black, predominating. On these skins the original pattern is almost entirely obscured. It is a well-known but none the less singular fact that Tortoise- shell Cats are generally females and "red" Cats generally males. This circumstance is the foundation for the saying that the "red" Cat is the male of the "Tortoise-shell"; but since the Tortoise-shell is as much melanistic as erythristic, male black cats have equal claims to be so regarded.


Criticism of the opinions of authors on the subject of the origin of "Domestic Cats" must be prefaced by the remark that, with one or two exceptions, they failed to realise that an explanation was required of the origin of two distinct kinds of Cats differing so much from each other that no one would hesitate to regard them as representing widely divergent species if they occurred in a state of nature.

A great deal has been written on this topic. Opinions at one time were nearly equally divided on the point, some authors regarding the European "Wild Cat (F. sylvestris), others the Egyptian Cat [F. ocreata) as the ancestral stock. Of late years, however, the latter species has grown greatly in favour for the distinction, partly on account of the unquestioned adoption and reiterated publication on the part of recent writers of a statement made many years ago, but none the less erroneous, that the Domestic Cat has a longer and more tapering tail than the Wild Cat of Europe (1), and partly on account of Nehring's assertion (2) that the Domestic and Egyptian Cats resemble each other, and differ from the Wild Cat in having the back of the hind leg from the hock to the pad blackish. This statement is negatived by three facts: — the area in question is not blackish in all Domestic Cats; nor in all examples of the Egyptian Cat; nor does it lack the dark tint in any specimens of the European Wild Cat that I have examined.

(1) Macgillivray, in his excellent account of the British Wild Cat ('British Quadrupeds,' Jardine's Naturalist's Library, pp. 188-195, 1854), long ago pointed out that the tail of the Domestic Cat is thinner and more tapering than that of the Wild Cat, because its fur is much shorter. Dr. Hamilton also exposes the fallacy of the above-stated belief ('Wild Cat of Europe,' pp. 41-42, 1896). One modern writer speaks of the tail of the Wild Cat as "clubbed." I have never seen a specimen with a tail to which this epithet meaning broader at the tip than at the base could be applied.

(2) SB. Ges, nat. Freunde Berlin, 1887; pp. 26-27, & 'Humboldt,' 1888, pp. 139-141. Nehring (Zeits. fur Ethnologie, xxi. pp. 558-9, 1889) suggests that Domestic Cats are descended from two main stocks — one from S.E. Asia, the other from N.E. Africa. From the former arose the "Chinese" Domestic Cat; from the latter the Egyptian House-Cat. The Egyptian House-Cat was the forerunner of the European Domestic Cat, with an infusion, especially in Germany, of the European Wild Cat. But whether the stock of the Asiatic House-Cat was F. inconspicua Gray, or F. manul, or some other smaller Asiatic species, the author leaves undecided. It does not appear that Nehring realised the existence of the two types of European Domestic Cats I have described. Also he can scarcely have been acquainted with the peculiarities of F. manul or with the nature of the affinity between F. inconspicua and F. ocreata.

The prevalent idea on this subject has been expressed as follows: — "The black sole of the foot suggests that the Caffre Cat is the chief stock from which the Domestic Cats of Europe have been derived"; and "that the European Wild Cat was not the direct descendant [? lapsus for ancestor] of the domesticated breeds of the western part of the continent is rendered pretty evident by its short and clubbed tail, to say nothing of the absence of dark soles to the hind feet " ['Cats &c.' in Allen's Nat. Library, pp. 15rt & 157 (1896), by R. Lydekker.]. And again: — "It has been maintained by many naturalists that the European Domestic Cat is chiefly derived from the north-eastern race of this species [F. ocreata] found in Egypt; at least, the domestic form is certainly not derived from the European Wild Cat " ['Mammals of S. Africa,' i. pp. 43-44 (1900), by W. L. Sclater.]. The foundation for this positive opinion entertained by Mr. Sclater may be found, I think, in his belief (Cat. Mamm. Indian Mus. ii. p. 934, 1891), taken from Blasius, that in the skulls of the Domestic Cat the frontal and squamosal bones are separated from one another by the parietals and alisphenoids, and the nasals are not produced posteriorly beyond the frontal processes of the maxillae, the converse being the case in the Wild Cat. I have before me the skulls of four "London" Cats. In one of them the nasals project well beyond the maxillae, in two as far back as the maxillae, and in the fourth not so far. Again, the distance between the frontal and the squamosal is in one skull as much as 3 mm., in two others it is only about 1 mm. or less, while in the last the squamosal and frontal touch on one side but not quite on the other. Nevertheless, it is perfectly true that, as a very general rule, the squamosal and frontal are separated by the junction of the parietal and alisphenoid in Domestic Cats as they also are in F. ocreata. But this is also the case in both the skulls of the Scotch Wild Cat that I possess [There is no reason to doubt that both these skulls belonged to pure-bred Wil Cats; this I can vouch for, since I have the skins.] In one of them the parieto-alisphenoid bridge measures 4 mm., in the other 2 mm. The bridge is also present in one of two skulls of this species in the Museum of the College of Surgeons, whereas in the other the frontal and squamosal have a long sutural union.

Thus, as Dr. Hamilton has already shown, the claims of both Blasius and Nehring regarding the differences above alluded to between the Wild and Domestic Cats of Europe will not stand the test of the examination of skulls and skins.

It appears to me that much barren discussion on this subject would have been saved by the realisation of the closeness of the affinity between the Egyptian and the European Wild Cats (F. ocreata and F. sylvestris). The type of pattern they present is not found in any other species of Felis, the nearest approach thereto being that of the Tiger (F. tigris) and in a remoter degree of Pallas's Cat (F. manul). The similarity in pattern between the two, coupled with their geographical distribution, almost induces the adoption of the view that they are but northern and southern forms of the same species. There is as yet, however, no positive evidence that they actually intergrade to the extent of justifying the conclusion that their distinctive features are merely of sub- specific value.

The characters they have in common are as follows: —

Close resemblance in the shape, size, and structure of the skull and teeth. [Amongst the skulls in my own collection and in that of the British Museum I have so far failed to find any constant characters for distinguishing the two species. By the sum of a number of small features in the teeth and bones, the skull of sylvestris can generally be recognised from that of ocreata. But up to the present every character which I thought might prove to be distinctive of sylvestris has broken down under the examination of a long series of skulls of ocreata, a species which, in its broad sense, is extremely variable in its cranial osteology. So far as the skull IS concerned, the differences between the two species must be regarded as of " subspecific " value. ]

General similarity in size and shape of the body, of the paws and ears, and in the length of the tail, though this organ is apparently a little longer at least in North-African examples of F. ocreata than in F. sylvestris.

General similarity in pattern: in both species the sides of the body are typically marked with wavy vertical dark stripes extending from the spine to the belly, and better defined, as a rule, on the thoracic than on the abdominal portion; the upper parts of both fore and hind limbs are transversely banded with broad bars, almost always darker than the transverse stripes on the body; the fore leg is black below from the toes to the wrist and behind at the elbow, the two internal brachial stripes, normal in felines, being well developed; the hind leg is normally blackish below from the toes up to the hock. The distal portion of the tail has a black tip and about three well-defined black stripes pre- ceding it, the proximal portion of the tail being much less distinctly barred and marked at best with an ill-defined median dorsal stripe. The throat is unstriped or only indistinctly striped, and usually exhibits a white spot; the thoracic and anterior abdominal areas of the ventral surface are spotted; the posterior abdominal and inguinal areas are unspotted and tinged with yellowish buff, especially on the inner side of the thighs. Identity prevails even in the colour of the individual hairs, which are slate-grey at the base, then buff or cinnamon, then black, the distal portion being yellowish or greyish white with a black tip.

The principal differences between them are as follows: —

In F. sylvestris the four paired stripes on the head and neck are well defined; on the occipital region they diverge from the middle line and run backwards almost to the shoulder as four wavy widely separated stripes, the ad median pair being, as a rule at all events, better emphasised than the laterals, which lie quite at the sides of the upper surface of the neck. In F. ocreata the head- and neck-stripes are usually badly defined; when present on the neck they are narrow and lie close together.

Tn F. sylvestris there is generally a very distinct black wavy median spinal stripe, usually extending from behind the shoulders to the root of the tail. In F. ocreata the entire spinal area is markedly darker than the sides of the body, sometimes showing traces of three narrow stripes; but the median is never so strong as in F. sylvestris. In the latter, however, a pair of narrow interrupted latero-dorsal stripes is sometimes traceable.

These are the most obvious distinctions. Others are less constant. For instance, in F. sylvestris the ears are, generally speaking, of the same colour as the head, though not infrequently they are washed with yellow either all over or only towards the tip. In F. ocreata they are almost always yellower or redder, generally very decidedly so, especially in African specimens; but, on the other hand, in an example of F. ocreata sarda in the British Museum the yellow on the ear is no more conspicuous than it is in some examples of F. sylvestris.

In F. sylvestris the coat is longer and thicker than in F. ocreata. This imparts to the former Cat a heavier, more robust, and shorter-legged appearance, and especially suggests that the tail is blunter at the apex [Quite similar differences in the thickness of the tail may be seen in Siberian and Indian Tigers.]. The value of this difference is discounted by the fact that F. sylvestris is a more northern type than F. ocreata [A very good description and au excellent figure of this species may be found under the name Felis lybica in Anderson's and de Winton's 'Mammals of Egypt,' pp. 171-176, pl. xxiv. (1902).], and that the length and density of the fur varies a good deal in the latter, which appears to be a species endowed with great capacity for environmental adaptation both as regards coat and colour.

Yet, in spite of the obvious resemblances above mentioned, the assumption of the total diversity of the two forms seems to have been pretty general, if we may judge by the absence of all comparison between them in monographs of the Felidae.

Now the characteristics which the Egyptian and European Wild Cats have in common are all possessed by the Domestic Cats of the "striped" type; and they are not found in any other species of Felis known to me. Hence there is no difficulty in the way of believing that our "striped" Cat is the direct and but little modified descendant of either F. sylvestris or F. ocreata, or probably of both combined. F. sylvestris inhabits Spain, Italy, Greece, and Asia Minor; and F. ocreata Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, and Sardinia. Thus one species or the other is found in the countries bordering the Mediterranean basin, where the civilisations of Europe had their origin. If Egyptian Cats were taken to Greece, Italy, or Spain, it is highly probable that they interbred with the native Wild Cat, especially at a time when the latter was far more abundant than it is now and when precautions to prevent the tame animals from straying are not likely to have been rigidly observed. But even if such crossing took place, I do not believe its effects could be traced in the progeny with any certainty, on account of the resemblances between the parent forms.

It may however, in my opinion, be assumed that the differences our English striped Domestic Cats exhibit from F. sylvestris on the one hand and from F. ocreata on the other, coupled with an unmistakable likeness to both, are attributable to that cause. To assume that the striped pattern of this Cat is due to interbreeding between domestic "Tabbies" or Blotched Cats and specimens of F. sylvestris needlessly complicates a quite simple question.

It is difficult to decide which of the two species our Striped Cats most resemble. Typical short-haired individuals recall F. ocreata in the length of the fur on the body and tail; whereas in the colour of the ears greater similarity is presented to F. sylvestris than at all events to African examples of F. ocreata. In the proximity of the stripes on the neck, resemblance is evinced to F. ocreata; but their distinctness recalls, though in a lesser degree, those of F. sylvestris. In the distinctness of the spinal stripe, the domestic form lies nearly midway between the two; but the transverse stripes on the body and tail are as a rule more sharply defined than in typical members of either of the wild species: but their want of definition in some long-haired specimens is quite paralleled by that of F. sylvestris, and suggests that their indistinctness in the latter is attributable to length of fur.

In the length of the tail the Striped Cat seems to be nearer F. sylvestris. There is no evidence that this organ is shorter in the domestic form than in the wild species just mentioned; whereas in North-Afriican examples of F. ocreata the tail is longer than in either of those types [Anderson and de Winton, 'Mammals of Egypt,' p. 172.].

In connection with the likeness this Cat presents both to Felis ocreata and F. sylvestris, it is apposite to note that out of four authors who have described specimens under the belief that they represented wild species or races, two compared them to F. sylvestris and two to F. ocreata. Blyth [J. A. S. Beng. xxv. p. 442 (1856)], speaking of an example from the Punjab Salt Range, says "it is of the streaked or spotted type, the colouring and markings of which are not much unlike those of the European Wild Cat (F. sylvestris)"; and Mivart ['The Cat,' p. 420 (1881)], in his description of F. torquata, remarked, "this Cat has much resemblance to the European Wild Cat." Blanford, on the contrary, says "the characters of the upper premolars distinguish F. torquata from the allied F. caffra (or caligata) [ = ocreata ['Mammals of British India,' p. 86 (1888). The character Blanford refers to is the nearness of the first maxillary premolar to the second — a very variable feature in the skulls of Domestic Cats and also, though in a lesser degree, in those of F. ocreata]; and Miss Bate described a specimen from Crete as the type of a distinct subspecies of F. ocreata [P. Z. S. 1906, p. 317].

The origin of F. catus appears to be at present quite unknown. It may be held: —

a. That it arose per saltum as a sport from the other Domestic Cat (torquata), and that the pattern persisted in virtue of its own inherent dominance without the aid of Man, or in virtue of the guiding factor of selective breeding. In opposition to this must be urged the complete absence of evidence that species of Felis are ever dimorphic in pattern, and the ascertained fact that they breed true to the specific or subspecific type.

b. That it arose from torquata by the slow and gradual process of preserving and breeding from fancied varieties. But in answer to this it may be pointed out that there is no reason to think that selective breeding of Cats was ever seriously practised until the latter portion of the nineteenth century. Moreover, if the catus type arose by that process, intermediates between it and torquata would probably be seen everywhere.

c. That it resulted from the interbreeding of F. ocreata and F. syIvestris. When two distinct species cross, the hybrid sometimes reverts in some respects to the characters of a common ancestor of both. There is no reason, however, for thinking that the pattern of catus was the pattern of the ancestor of sylvestris and ocreata; and it seems to be in the highest degree improbable that the progeny of two closely allied and similarly striped species like sylvestris and ocreata should be marked in a totally different manner from its parents. There is, moreover, good reason for thinking that the torquata-breed. was the resulting hybrid of that cross.

d. That it resulted from interbreeding between sylvestris or ocreata or torquata and some exotic species introduced into Europe. There is, however, no reason to believe that either tamed or wild representatives of any exotic species other than ocreata were so introduced, apart from menagerie- kept animals.

e. That it is the direct descendant of some existing exotic species. It is quite evident, however, that it is not the direct unmodified descendant of any known species of Felis, since its pattern is unique in just the same way and to the same extent that the pattern of the Tiger is unique in the genus.

f. That it is the survivor of some extinct, probably Pleistocene Cat of Western Europe. By the method of exhaustion of other possibilities, one falls back upon this supposition, which at least has this in its favour, that no very obvious or cogent reason can be advanced against it.


As already explained, "Manx" Cats may be either of the catus or torquata type. Apart from the abbreviated tail, which has been discussed and dismissed as of no systematic significance from the zoological standpoint, Manx Cats differ or are alleged to differ from ordinary short-haired Cats in standing relatively higher at the hind-quarters. I have not seen any measurements substantiating this claim; and it is difficult to decide to what extent the greater apparent posterior stature is an optical illusion caused by the absence of the tail. It is quite possible, however, that suppression of the tail is correlated with greater height at the sacrum, and that, to put it crudely, the caudal material is distributed to or absorbed by the hind-quarters. Some Lynxes certainly seem to stand higher on the hind legs than the majority of species of Felis. Be this as it may, the circumstance that height at the posterior region is considered by fanciers "a point" in the Manx breed throws the fact — if fact it be — under suspicion of having been fostered by selective breeding and of being therefore unworthy of consideration from the phylogenetic and systematic point of view, zoologically speaking. In other words, as little importance should be attached to the character as to the absence or abbreviation of the tail.

With regard to so-called "Persian" or "Angora" Cats [Desmarest (Nouv. Diet. vi. p. 122, 1816) gives Anatolia as the original country of this breed], there seems to me to be no reason to suppose that any other species is involved in their ancestry than in the ancestry of the short-haired breeds most common in Europe. Both the "blotched" and the "striped" styles of pattern occur; and no other type of pattern is known amongst them, so far as I am aware. The skull, moreover, is not distinguishable from that of short-haired Domestic Cats. The small systematic value that should be attached to the long coat has been already insisted upon. Nothing seems more likely than that tame Cats were imported from Egypt into Persia; the European Wild Cat (F. sylvestris) occurs both in Asia Minor and Persia, and F. ocreata has been recorded from Syria and Arabia. Hence it seems needless to look beyond the two species just mentioned for the origin of "striped" 'Persian" Cats, even on the supposition that they came originally from Persia. That the "blotched" Persians had the same origin, whatever that may have been, as the "blotched" short-haired Cats is in the highest degree probable. For myself, I think it quite needless to consider that so trivial a character as long hair is to be traced in all cases to Cats imported into Western Europe from Asia Minor or Persia. The suggestion — first made, I believe, by Pallas, but repeated even in modern literature on the subject — that the Central Asiatic species, Pallas's Cat (Felis manul), contributed to the "Persian" breed, has nothing to be said in its favour. Felis manul is quite unlike all domestic breeds. The ears are small and set very low on the sides of the head, leaving a great width of forehead between them; the facial and body markings are different; and, lastly, the pupil of the eye contracts to a circular disk [The illustration of this species in Elliot's 'Monograph of the Felidae,' pl. x., was taken from a stuffed specimen, and does not correctly depict the peculiarities of the head and eyes. Elliot, however, very rightly insists that this Cat is unlike all other known species.].

There is, however, one species of Felis which must not be altogether forgotten in considering the possible origin of Persian Cats. This is the Bokhara Steppe Cat (Felis caudata), described by J. E. Gray (P. Z. S. 1874, pp. 31-32, pls. vi. & vii.). The type is in the British Museum. The figures of the entire animal and of the skull show that this Cat is closely related to Felis sylvestris and to F. ocreata, and not to F. chaus, with which Dr. Gray compared it. It has a thick coat and bushy tail, like F. sylvestris; but there are no distinct spinal stripe nor definite stripes on the head and neck. In length the tail resembles that of F. ocreata; and likeness to this species is further shown by the indistinctness of the head, neck, and dorsal stripes. From both the other species it differs in being covered with small spots; but these spots, at least on the anterior part of the body, show, I think, signs of the coalescence into transverse rows which is realised in F. sylvestris and F. ocreata. Gray describes the colour as yellowish. The skin, which is probably faded, might be more aptly described as "ounce" [Snow Leopard] grey. Whether or not this species has any connection with the "spotted" Cats of the Punjab Salt Range, mentioned below (p. 164), I am unable to say.

It is worth putting on record the fact that in two out of the three skulls of "Persian Cats" I possess the jaws are slightly "underhung," that is to say, the mandible protrudes a little in front of the premaxillae. I have not noticed this peculiarity in the skulls of any other Cats, either wild or domestic. It may be purely accidental, or it may indicate that the taste of fanciers in Cats is running along the same lines as those of breeders of Domestic Dogs. In this case we may in the future have a race of snub-nosed Cats departing in facial elegance from Nature's type of Felis in the same manner that Pugs and Bulldogs depart from Nature's type of Canis.

The origin of the Siamese breed has been a much-discussed puzzle. The peculiar coloration [Mr. E. G. B. Meade Waldo has reminded me that the so-called Himalayan breed of domestic rabbits is almost identically coloured.] must be set on one side as value-less towards affording a clue. The cats are obviously albescent, as is attested by the hue of the hair and frequently by the blueness of the eye [R. I. Pocock, Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (7) xix. p. 194, 1907]. But the albescence, complete in the newly-born kitten, is mitigated as age advances by a melanistic taint which evinces itself in two ways, both of unusual occurrence in Nature. In the first place, the black pigment is distributed symmetrically, and primarily affects the face and ears, the tail, and the legs. In the second place, it increases in quantity as age advances, and gradually encroaches upon the whiter areas, converting the hair of the body from whitish or pale fawn into pale or dark brown. Sometimes there are indistinct traces of spots on the hind-quarters and legs.

Judging from their size, form, and general aspect, I should say these Cats are nothing but a domestic variety of F. ocreata. The only skull of this breed that I possess is that of a female with its contours and ridges indicating considerable muscular development . [I am indebted to Mr. F. W. Cousens, F.Z.S., for the skin and skull of one of the two specimens of this breed I have been able to examine. Mr. Cousens also kindly gave me the skins and skulls of two Persian Cats]. It is a short, broad skull, with expanded zygomata, and beyond all possibility of doubt falls into the group typified by F. ocreata and F. sylvestris. In profile it is noticeable that the highest point of the cranium lies well behind the fronto-parietal suture, and that the area in front of that point, almost as far as the nasals, is nearly flat and slightly inclined. This is not a common feature in the skulls of Domestic Cats; but it is almost exactly paralleled in the skull of an old male specimen of F. ocreata from Suakin, and does not occur in the skull of a Siamese Cat in the British Museum, in which the highest point of the skull is on the frontal bones, which are evidently swollen just behind the postorbital processes. Another peculiarity in my specimen is the division of the infra-orbital foramen by a bridge of bone. I find this feature repeated, however, in the skull of a London Cat not referable to the Siamese breed; and it does not occur in the Siamese skull in the British Museum.

Nevertheless, these two Siamese skulls agree in the possession of two small characters, one of which I can only match in one of the English Cats' skulls I possess, while the other cannot be quite matched in any of them. The first character is the height of the interparietal crest, which is better developed than is usually the case in English Domestic Cats, though it is equalled in the skull of one London Cat that I have seen, and of one feral example of the torquata-type of F. ocreata, from Celebes, in the British Museum. The second character is the greater narrowness of the posterior portion of the nasal bones and the more marked abruptness of the constriction between this portion and the expanded anterior portion. But since the two Siamese skulls differ in degree with respect to this character, and since the nasal bones vary greatly in length and width in English Domestic Cats, no great importance can, I think, be attached to the feature in question. Moreover, as already stated (p. 152), the Celebes example of torquata in the British Museum also has the nasals compressed. Since, therefore, the colour of the Siamese Cat affords no evidence of its descent, and the skull is decidedly of the ocreata + sylvestris type, there seems to me to be no reason to look beyond those species or indeed beyond ocreata for its origin. Those who claim that it has had an origin independent of our own Domestic Cats from some Siamese or Oriental species, must be challenged to produce that species before the question can be profitably discussed. There seems to be no reason whatever for entertaining Trouessart's suggestion [Cat. Mamm. 1904, p. 273] that the rare Bornean Felis badia was its agriotype. I may add that all the small species of Felis inhabiting Siam, including even F. chaus, which is doubtfully indigenous, differ in the structure of the skull and teeth from the Siamese Domestic Cat [For list of the species, see S. S. Flower, P. Z. S. 1900, pp. 322-327].

According to Blyth (Journ. As. Soc. Bengal, xxv. pp. 442-445, 1856) two types of Domestic Cat were prevalent in India in his time. "One is the streaked or spotted type, the colouring and markings of which are not much unlike those of the European Wild Cat (F. sylvestris), only more distinct, and the transverse streaks are more broken into spots, especially towards the hinder part of the body; the fur, however, is short, and the tail slender and of uniform apparent thickness to the end, [In this particular the tail must resemble and not differ from that typical of F. sylvestris. Surely Blyth intended to say "tapering" towards the end, otherwise the remark is pointless.] showing a series of rings and a black tip; ears slightly rufescent externally but infuscated, but passing to black at tip, where there is a distinct small pencil-tuft of black hairs. Paws deep sooty black underneath." Two examples of this Cat were shot wild in the Punjab Salt Range; another seen at Allahabad in a state of domestication exactly resembled them; but the tame Cats of Calcutta were usually greyer, with smaller and more numerous spots.

The other type, says Blyth, resembles the Jungle-Cat (F. chaus) in colour, the body being uniformly "cat-grey," more or less rusty or fulvescent, without a trace of spots or stripes, but the stripes on the tail and limbs are more distinct; there are also confused stripes on the forehead and two on the cheeks and a dark band across the chest; the lower parts are whitish or tinged with tawny, and spotted; the ears are dull rufous behind with a slight blackish tip and no pencil of hairs; the paws more or less sooty beneath. In its proportions, however, this Cat is quite different from F. chaus, the limbs and ears being much shorter, and the tail much longer and tapering. Blyth adds that Domestic Cats of this type abounded in Bengal, if not all over India, but were quite unknown in Europe; whereas, on the other hand, the English "tabby" was quite unknown in India.

Mr. W. L. Sclater also discussed these two breeds, and accredited Blyth with the belief that the self-coloured "chaus"-like type was derived from interbreeding between the "Domestic" Cat and F. chaus (Cat. Mamm. Ind. Mus. ii. p. 233, 1891). He also suggested that the form named F. torquata by F. Cuvier was based upon a feral example of the spotted or streaked breed.

So far as I can judge from what the two authors quoted say about these breeds, there is nothing to distinguish them from F. ocreata, which may be either self-coloured like the "chaus"- like Cat or spotted and streaked like the spotted Indian Cat. The facts adduced do not appear to me to supply any evidence that such indigenous Indian Cats as F. rubiginosa, F. chaus, or F. bengalensis have contributed to the strains; and I strongly suspect that they have been derived from F. ocreata either by the importation of tamed specimens or by the reclaiming from the wild state of examples of this species which may have inhabited India in comparatively recent times.

In the British Museum there are a few skins of Indian Domestic or semi-domestic Cats belonging to the spotted or striped and to the self-coloured types mentioned by Blyth. An examination of them fully confirms the opinion I had formed from reading Blyth's remarks. Those belonging to the striped or spotted type are, as Mr. Sclater suggested, the same as the form described by Cuvier as torquata. Those of the self-coloured type do not differ from them more than some of the self-coloured Cats differ from the striped Cats to be seen in the London streets. Some of them are more rufescent than others; but I cannot find in them a particle of evidence of partial descent from F. chaus or from any other indigenous Indian species.

Not uncommonly Indian Domestic Cats differ from typical English examples of torquata in having the bands on the tail narrower and the stripes, especially on the forehead and cheeks, more rufous. The narrowness of the caudal stripes arises from the splitting of the normal stripes; but this character as well as the rufescence may be seen in African examples of F. ocreata. There is no reason, therefore, to doubt that the Indian Domestic Cats are descended from that species. It must, of course, be conceded that they may interbreed with indigenous Indian species, and especially with the so-called Desert-Cat (F. ornata), which, from the structure of the skull and teeth, as well as from other characters, must be regarded, I think, as the Indian representative, as F. caudata is the Bokhara representative of the group typified by F. ocreata in Africa, and by F. sylvestris in Europe.

Cats of the so-called "Abyssinian" breed may be descended, for anything I know to the contrary, from specimens of F. ocreata directly exported from Abyssinia. They are certainly not unlike some self-coloured examples of that species. On the other hand, it would I imagine be difficult to separate them from fulvescent "Ticked" Cats, which appear to me to be nothing but examples of the torquata-type in which the pattern is broken up and evanescent (see p. 152).


It has been stated over and over again that Domestic Cats interbreed freely with the native Cats of various species inhabiting the countries to which they have been transported. One cannot help wishing there was more positive evidence of the fact. It may be so; but the statements of authors on this subject cannot be accepted as of any great value unless there is collateral evidence of their intimate acquaintance with the wild species in question and with the range of variation in colour, pattern, and structure of the domestic breeds. Many alleged cases of interbreeding may be found quoted in Darwin's "Variation of Animals and Plants lender Domestication." It is very likely that some Cats seen by Jardine in the north of Scotland were rightly regarded as hybrids between domestic animals and F. sylvestris. And St. Hilaire's statement that the Domestic Cats of Algiers cross with the native Cat (F. lyhica = ocreata), and Layard's to the effect that similar crosses occur with F. ocreata caffra in S. Africa, may also be true. But in the last two cases it may be doubted if evidence of the crossing would be shown by the progeny; and as regards Jardine's alleged hybrids, long-coated specimens of the "striped" Domestic Cat might easily be mistaken for half-bred Wild Cats. A striped Cat known to be descended from a feral specimen was recently caught in the New Forest, where Felis sylvestris has not occurred for at least a century, and sent to the British Museum by Mr. P. H. Barker as a hybrid. On the strength of its long coat, it must be regarded as a "half Persian." Had it come from parts of the north of Scotland, where F. sylvestris still lingers, the entire purity of its descent might have remained for ever in doubt. As regards the claim that Domestic Cats in India interbreed with the Jungle-Cat (F. chaus), I am unable to find evidence that satisfies me of the certainty of this occurrence [cf. supra, p. 165). In one case the claim is actually based, in part at all events, upon the occurrence of the internal brachial stripe on the fore leg, a feature regarded by the observer as characteristic of F. chaus, whereas it is the most persistent of all the stripes in the genus Felis.

No one would be so rash as to affirm that interbreeding does not occur between Domestic Cats and even widely different wild species. But unless the skins and skulls of alleged hybrids are forthcoming for examination, there is no basis for the discussion of the question. Vague suppositions of observers cannot be regarded as evidence of the fact; and I am of opinion that the prevalent beliefs on the subject are to be assigned in a great measure to the observation of semi-wild specimens of the common but little known striped Domestic Cat, which may be either red or grey in colour, and either striped or spotted in pattern.


The substance of the foregoing remarks may be epitomised as follows: —

1. The characters used by breeders and fanciers as a basis for their so-called breeds of English Domestic Cats have no scientific value, in the sense of affording a clue to affinity and descent.

2. The pattern — or, in other words, the arrangement of the stripes — shows that English Domestic Cats are referable to two distinct types, whether they belong to the "Manx," "Persian," or "Short-haired" breeds.

3. These two types of pattern are different in kind and do not intergrade. They are so distinct from each other that no one would hesitate to regard them as characterising two well-marked species if the animals presenting them existed in a wild as opposed to a domesticated state.

4. In one type of pattern the stripes take the form of narrow transverse or vertical bands which sometimes break up into spots. To feral or domesticated examples of this Cat have been given many names, of which torquata is the best known and angorensis or striata possibly the oldest.

5. This Cat (torquata) was apparently domesticated in Europe at least as early as the 16th century. There seems to be no reason therefore for regarding it as of Indian origin.

6. It closely resembles in pattern two existing species, namely, the so-called Egyptian Cat (F. ocreata) and the European Wild Cat (F. sylvestris), both of which occur at the present day in the Mediterranean Region, and are very nearly related to each other. There is no difficulty in the way of believing that they are the ancestral forms or "agriotypes" of this domesticated race (torquata).

7. In the other type of pattern the stripes take the form of broad longitudinal or obliquely longitudinal bands forming a ring-like or spiral arrangement on the sides of the abdomen. To domesticated examples of this Cat, Linnaeus gave the name catus, which cannot be applied to any other form of the genus Felis. Domestica is its best-known synonym.

8. This Cat (catus) is certainly known to have been domesticated in Europe in the middle of the 18th century. It was not, however, apparently known in India in the middle of the 19th century. Probably, therefore, it is of European descent.

9. Its origin is unknown. Of the several hypotheses that may be held on this subject perhaps the following two are the most to be commended: — that it arose as a sudden variation or sport from the torquata-breed, in which case European Domestic Cats are dimorphic in pattern; that it is the direct descendant of some extinct Pleistocene Cat, in which case there are two distinct species of Domestic Cat in Europe.


PLATE VIII. Blotched Tabbies, Felis catus.
The four skins photographed were selected out of a large number to show the principal variations to which the pattern in this Cat is liable. All came from the Cats' Home in Camden Town, London.

Plate IX. Striped Tabby, Felis torquata.
Fig. 1. Example of the Felis sylvestris-type to be compared with fig. 1, Plate X.
2. Like the last, but the pattern more spotted.
3. A partially albino specimen with the spots larger and more widely spaced than in No. 2.
4. Specimen of the so-called "Ticked" breed, with the spots disintegrated and generally-distributed over the body.
(From the Cats' Home, Camden Town.)

Plate X. Agriotypes of the Striped Tabby, F. torquata.
Figs. 1 & 2. European Wild Cats, F. sylvestris, from Ross-shire in Scotland.
Figs. 3, 4, 5. Young examples of the South African race of the African Wild Cat, Feiis ocreata caffra. The pattern is usually more distinct in the young than in the adults of this species. The exact locality of these three specimens is unknown. They were shipped from Cape Colony.
(The camera has emphasised the pattern of the skins depicted on this Plate.)


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