LITTLE KNOWN CAT BREEDS #4: UTILITY BREEDS (SMIFFY)

Imagine . Somewhere in a parallel universe, where dogs don't exist and man domesticated the cat to fulfil the roles performed on this world by dogs

Dobercat - resembling a giant Siamese, but found only in black-and-tan tortie and blue-and-cream tortie, this cat was bred as a guardcat. Originally bred for a fierce temperament, the modern variety is only bad-tempered when roused from sleep or interrupted at mealtimes. Burglars are liable to trip over Dobercats. One Dobercat, "Spartacat" was awarded a bravery medal for reaching out with a paw to trip a burglar who was circumnavigating him. Spartan's owner suggested the cat was merely stretching in his sleep.

Cattweiler - found in the same colours as the Dobercat, this is a giant form of the Exotic Shorthair developed as a guard/police dog. Strong, loyal and obedient, it stops miscreants by tripping them up and then playing with them. Unfortunately this hunting instinct is so strong that it often trips up passers by and even its handler and plays with them.

Duck Tolling Catriever - Part of the vast catriever family bred to fetch prey, Duck-Tolling Catrievers are bred to lure ducks towards the bank by twitching their tails among reeds. This is odd, because most cats hate water and refuses to get their tails wet. The exception is the Turkish Van Duck Tolling Catriever; a water-loving orange and white semi-longhaired.

Old English Sheepcat - longhaired bobtail herding breed; Sheepcats have been developed around the world to guard or herd flocks of giant woolly hamsters. These cats work by chasing the flock and jumping on stragglers. The giant hamsters have evolved a helpful defensive strategy of running, en masse, for cover (usually the barn) and the quick-witted herder has only to shut the door before the Sheepcat can catch up with them..

Pekatnese - a snub-nosed, long-haired Chinese variety that fits snugly inside the long sleeves of court ladies and whose speed cannot exceed a fast waddle. Part of the Lapcat division in shows and admired equally for its "lion-like" face and sloth-like demeanour. Its only function is to be a companion animal and to be spoilt rotten (by the court ladies) and ridiculed (by everyone else). A short-haired variety, the Chinese Happakat, is the ancestor of this breed.

Yorkshire Purrier - the Purrier family were originally bred to pursue prey that had gone to ground. The Yorkshire Purrier is a typical example - scrappy, noisy and energetic - and has no concept of its own size, demonstrated by its suicidal willingness to challenge cats several times its own size e.g. Cattweilers. Other Purriers include the lamb-like Bedlington Purrier (a curly-coated Purrier named for its love of sleeping on the bed) and the Cat Russell Purrier bred by parson's wife Catharine "Cat" Russell.

Saint Gertrude - named after the patron saint of cats, these huge furry cats were bred to locate lost travellers in snowy mountains, transport a small tot of brandy to revive the traveller and keep the traveller warm with feline body heat. Unfortunately, the Saint Gertrude refuses to go outdoors except in warm, dry, sunny weather; will not wear a collar, not even to carry a tot of brandy and has not yet rescued any travellers. In fact it is usually to be found in the monastery kitchen scrounging food. The monks of St Gertrude have high hopes for their new breed, the Burmese Mountain Cat.

Pit Bull Purriers - not a breed, but a type. This crossbreed was bred specifically for fighting and baiting giant shrews. If you have ever seen how vicious a shrew is, you will understand this variety's need for tenacity and courage. Pit Bull Purriers have been crossed with larger breeds resulting in the lion-sized Bancats and the Moglossos (the Roman ancestor of the Catstiff family) able to bring down a bull.

Seeing Eye Cat (Guidecat for the Blind) - unfortunately, the feline tendency to climb trees, chase prey or fall asleep on the job led to the abandonment of the Guidecat project.

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