THE MESSYBEAST.COM CAT BREED LIST
Cat Breeds (Recognized/Unrecognized, Common/Obscure), Variants, Mutations, Hybrids, Archaic/Alternate Names.
Copyright 1994 - 2006 Sarah Hartwell
The Messybeast Breed List is not specific to any registry or country. It is an independent, impartial list that disregards breed society politics. It is not (nor will it ever be) specific to any single registry, breed society or cat-breeding country. It will not link to any registry, breeder or cattery website as this would compromise its independence. The inclusion of a breed, variant or type of cat is not an indication that it is, or should be, recognized. The omission of any breed, variant, type or description is due to lack of information. Info can be sent tosarah.hartwell[at]blueyonder.co.uk. This list now represents 20 years of research - if you do copy it (and many have), please do so accurately!
The Messybeast Breed List contains brief, plain English descriptions of varieties which have been recorded. Some were described by early naturalists and travellers. Some were selectively bred by cat fanciers since the birth of the first organised cat fancies in the late 19th Century in the UK and USA. There is no single definition of what a breed is. Within the cat fancy, a "breed" is a group of pedigree cats (cats whose ancestors are known) that breed true for a variety of traits although they may not breed true for certain other traits. Outside of the cat fancy, a breed may be defined as a naturally occurring local variety of cat (whose pedigrees are often not recorded) that breeds more-or-less true for a variety of traits because they are geographically isolated from other cats. Some natural breeds are discovered and further refined by cat fanciers e.g. the naturally occurring Manx is now widely recognised. Some breeds produce variants due to inherent genetic diversity.
The Breed List includes unrecognized breeds, experimental breeds, variants, extinct breeds and alternative names. New breeds appear constantly by hybridization, mutation, standardisation of local varieties and from variants of established breeds. Some enthusiasts do not seek formal recognition of their breed. Some breeds are refused formal recognition by the region's cat registry. Some regions do not have a cat registry so formal recognition is impossible in the region where the breed was discovered or developed. I am often asked about several non-existent "breeds" and have included entries explaining that they are fictional.
Common breeds are described only briefly because they are well-documented elsewhere on the web. Extinct, experimental and uncommon breeds have more detailed descriptions as this information may be harder to find elsewhere. Only a few crossbreeds (common ones or ones with particularly interesting characteristics) are listed as most are regarded as 'moggies' (mongrels) by registries. The Messybeast Breed List represents the most up-to-date details I have. If you cannot see details on a particular breed, it is because I don't have any further details or I am not permitted to publish details (nor pass on details by email).
There is no "gallery" accompanying this list. Photographs of some of the varieties and mutations may be found in articles on the Messybeast Cat Resource Archive; photographs of some historical varieties do not exist because photography did not exist at the time.
SAME NAME - DIFFERENT BREED?
Different registries have different definitions of breeds and permissible colours and/or patterns within a breed. The same name may be used by different registries to refer to different breeds. The same type of cat may have breed-names in different registries. The same breed may have a different standard in different registries e.g. the Burmese in America is cobbier and rounder-headed than the Burmese in Europe; for that reason these are shown as "American Burmese" and "European Burmese".
Some registries consider the Blue Persian to be a different breed to the Black Persian while other registries see Blue and Black as colour varieties of the Persian breed. Some registries consider red-point Siamese to be "Colorpoint Shorthairs" because they were developed by crossing Siamese cats to red shorthairs; other registries consider red-points to be a colour variety of the Siamese as they are physically identical. Some of these differences of definition have their roots in the 19th Century.
To be a recognised breed, a proposed breed must breed consistently for the selected traits. Conformation and fur type are usually the main traits that define a breed, with colour and/or pattern being secondary defining traits (hence "calico" is a colour as it can occur in many types of cat, "calico" is not a breed). The gene pool must be limited to breeding with cats of the same breed or with closely related breeds. To be a recognised breed, it must be different enough from existing recognised breeds to be distinct. Thus some breeds are recognised in some countries, but not in others where the new breed is too similar to something already recognised.
Some breeders have bypassed the cat fancy by trademarking breeds. This means the cats can only be exhibited as household pets because their existence is not recognised by cat fancies. In some cases, the trademarking and breeding is purely for financial gain. In other cases is reflects the frustration at dealing with bureaucracy or is to circumvent registry prohibitions on certain mutations or on wildcat-hybrids.
BREEDS AND PLACES OF ORIGIN
The name of a breed does not necessarily indicate its place of origin. While Siamese cats originated in Thailand (Siam), the Himalayan does not come from the Himalayas and the Havana is not from Cuba. Some names refer to where a cat was believed by early cat fanciers to have come from e.g. the Abyssinian is widely believed to have come from Ethiopia, but was mainly developed in England using native British Ticks and some imported cats (possibly from India via Abyssinia), while the Somali has nothing to do with Somalia, but is a longhaired Abyssinian.
Cat fancying/breeding can only be a pursuit in countries where cat lovers have the income and leisure time to selectively breed cats. For this reason, there are no breeds indigenous to many parts of the world and there are a disproportionate number of breeds originating from the UK (the birthplace of the cat fancy), Western Europe and the North America. Ex-patriots from those regions are working with local varieties and enthusiasts in other countries where cat fancying is absent or a minority interest. Some have returned from those countries with imported cats of the local type e.g. the African Sokoke from the Sokoke Forest region of Kenya, where it is considered unremarkable, is now largely being developed in Denmark.
There are increasing efforts to copyright terms such as "Traditional" or "Older Style" in breednames; these everyday English terms describe a version of the named breed that adheres to a less extreme historical body-type. Restricting the use of such words is detrimental to the English language (outside of the USA, it is not possible to copyright common words). Bizarrely, the breeder does not like the actual breednames used, even on this educational site, in case this erodes, rather than promotes, the breed. A number of breeds exist in "traditional", "older style" or "authentic" versions as well is in a "modern", "classic" or "contemporary" version. A plain English description is used in describing the breeds. In this breedlist, trademarks are used in accordance with applicable laws i.e. as review or criticism and not misappropriation or competition.
CURRENCY OF INFORMATION
Printed books can take 18 months or longer to be published. By the time a book about cat breeds is on the shelves, the information is already out of date and new breeds have already appeared while others might have vanished through lack of interest or been renamed. By contrast, this list can be updated with new developments in a matter of minutes. Breed books concentrate on breeds currently recognised by the cat registries in the country where the book is published. For that reason, you will not yet see many of the breeds mentioned here in a single currently published book. Many breed books are published by, or sponsored by, cat registries and exclude breeds not recognised by that registry.
MESSYBEAST BREED LIST GLOSSARY
With so many different registries with different views, the exact status of some breeds is hard to define. The Messybeast Breed List uses the following terms:
Alternative Name: An alternative name still in use; might have been a proposed name while breed was being developed.
Archaic Name: Historical name no longer used.
Crossbred: Informal variety always created by crossing 2 other breeds.
Current: A currently recognised breed (means recognition by at least one registry in the world)
Experimental: Early stages of development. Some have provisional or preliminary recognition, but others do not seek or achieve registry recognition.
Extinct: No individuals of the breed exist e.g. Mexican Hairless
Fake: An attempt to deceive the public by representing a cat as something it is not.
Fictional: "Breeds" such as cabbits, squittens, Chinese Hairless and Egyptian Hairless that exist only in fiction or folklore, but people may believe they are real.
Local Variety: Unrecognised distinct strain of cats found in a particular locality e.g. Buckfast Blue.
Mutation: Distinct strain that occurred through mutation; some are incorporated into similar-looking breeds (e.g. different Rex strains with the same gene mutation).
Proposed: Not even off the drawing board!
Unknown: Reported by reputable source(s), but with no other information, possibly a one-off.
Variant: Purebred cats that do not meet the breed standard due to hidden genes e.g. longhaired Bengals. Some are recognised in other countries under a different name.
Banned. In parts of Europe, particularly Germany, certain breeds are prohibited by legislation because their breed traits are considered harmful deformities (defects) rather than interesting anomalies. These include Manx/Cymric (spinal problems related to tailless mutation), Munchkin (dwarfism), Scottish Fold (skeletal problems), Sphynx (hairlessness is considered detrimental to the breed) and Blue-Eyed Whites in any breed (deafness). Polydactyly in any breed is considered a harmful defect under this legislation.
Messybeast would like to thank the Newbreedcats and CatsnewbreedsUK Yahoo Groups and the many individual developers of some of the listed breeds for kindly sharing information about their cats and allowing its use in the Breed List.