The major advantage of buying a pedigree cat is that you know a little bit more about what you are getting compared with a moggie. Pedigree breeds tend to have their own set of character traits, which makes it ideal when you're choosing a cat to fit in with your circumstances and lifestyle. For example, if you want a laid-back lap cat, a Persian or Birman might be a good choice if you are prepared to spend a lot of time grooming. If you want an active, vocal cat that will respond well to learning tricks, a Siamese or Burmese is better.
This breed originates from ordinary domestic cats and comes in a wide range of colours and coat patterns: from white to black to silver tabby. Breeders began to fix the type in the 19th century to ensure that the cats' distinct qualities were preserved, until eventually the British Shorthair was recognised as a pedigree breed. A touch of Persian and Oriental was added to revive the breed when it came close to dying out in the mid-20 century. The British Shorthair is a sturdy, healthy cat with strong muscular body on short legs. It has a round face, large eyes and a thick, short coat.
Like the Persian, they can be independent and undemanding, but will enjoy a good cuddle if it's offered. Most enjoy being outdoors.
Other British Breeds
Other breeds in this group include the Manx and Selkirk Rex
This is a breed that likes to make its presence felt! Vocal (but not as loud as the Siamese), the Burmese are often called the 'dog cat' because of their assertiveness, canine-type loyalty to their owners, and willingness to play retrieve games! They love joining in with whatever you're doing - this is very much a 'sit-on-the-newspaper-if-your-owner-is-trying-to-read-it' type cat! The Burmese is medium-sized with a sturdy body, rounded chest, round head and large eyes with a slightly Siamese-type slant about them. They also have a soft, short, velvety coat that can come in a variety of colours.
These breeds have little in common other than their outgoing, larger-than-life personalities. From the wild type looking Bengal, created through breeding a domestic cat to an Asian Leopard Cat, through to the impish-looking Devon Rex, this is a very diverse group. It includes the longhaired Tiffanie and the curly-coated Cornish and Devon Rex. Even size differences are noticeable - from the large Bengal through to the tiny Singapura. They come from all corners of the earth including England, Russia, the Far East and Africa, and some (such as the Ocicat) have been made through crossing or adapting existing breeds. Foreigns are generally 'people' cats. Active and demanding, they are the type that will nag you to bits when they want to eat, play or cuddle - and they refuse to be ignored!
The Oriental comes in two types : the shorthair and the longhair. The short-coated type is best described as a coloured Siamese, i.e. without the pointed markings and the long-coated variety is called the Angora. The Oriental often has similar physical and character traits as the Siamese, although only the white variety has blue eyes. All the other colours have yellow or green eyes.
The Persian is the real glamour-puss of the cat world. One of the oldest known breeds of pedigree cat, their crowning glory is their long, thick luxurious coat that can grow up to six inches in length.
The Persian shape is 'cobby', meaning they have quite short legs, a short neck and a broad chest. The brush-like tail is magnificent and they also have a ruff of hair as a mane. Needless to say, with such a thick undercoat and long topcoat, the Persian needs extensive grooming (at least 20 minutes every day). The eyes also need attention, as they can be prone to weeping. But with a wide choice of colours and patterns, there really is a Persian to suit all tastes!
The Persian character is typically laidback and calm. They make a great house-cat and love snoozing, ideal if you work full-time. However, to stop them becoming lonely during the day, another Persian is essential as a companion to play with or to cuddle up to.
This group contains six breeds which vary a great deal in looks and character, but which all share a similar, long (but not as long as a Persian) coat. Here's a quick character sketch of each one:
The Birman has a thick, silky coat, a luxurious tail and piercing, round blue eyes. The coat comes in lots of colours and daily grooming is essential. It's also pointed, which means the cat's extremities, i.e. legs, tail, face and ears, are a darker colour than the body. And because the paws aren't pointed, it looks as if the cat is wearing mittens. With a long but sturdy body, Birmans aren't as stocky as the Persian and some claim they have Siamese blood. Character-wise, the Birman is playful, friendly and relaxed. They are very loving and will often demand attention when they want a fuss made of them!
This is a large, tough, handsome breed that has had to withstand the cold winters of Maine on America's east coast - hence the long, thick and weatherproof coat. They have a ruff around their neck and inbuilt earmuffs - hairy ears - to protect them. Their brush-like tail resembles that of a racoon (hence the Coon part of the name). Elegant, well proportioned, athletic and powerful, the breed needs lots of stimulation and their chief love is the great outdoors. They make a supreme hunter, rarely put off by the cold and wet; the British weather is nothing compared to what their ancestors were bred to cope with! Maine Coons are unlikely to thrive as full-time house-cats, but they like spending time with their owners and make loving, playful pets which are often highly trainable.
Similar to the Maine Coon, the Norwegian Forest Cat is another born survivor from the hostile climate of northern Scandinavia. Big and strong, with particularly powerful (and long) hind legs, they are very elegant. And they are very attractive cats as well. This particular breed is built for climbing and, as the name suggests, they love scaling trees. A big indoor cat tree is a must (to divert them from climbing curtains, wardrobes etc.). A great lover of the outdoor life, the Norwegian Forest Cat also loves human companionship indoors.
Originally created by crossing a female white Persian with a Birman male, the stunning Ragdoll is a gentle giant - large, heavy, but extremely placid. They have full cheeks, large, oval eyes and a short neck. Despite their large size, they are very delicate-looking in appearance. The name comes through their occasional habit of being so relaxed when picked up that they become floppy - like a rag doll. Quiet and extremely affectionate, the Ragdoll can make a very good house-cat often less interested in hunting as some of the more robust, outdoors-type breeds.
This is the long-haired variety of the Abyssinian. The coat isn't quite as long as others in this category, but a distinctively 'ticked' (where each hair has two or three bands of colour) coat makes it a striking feature of the breed. The Somali also has relatively large ears - a feature often found in cats that originate from a hot climate, as it helps them to lose heat. Like the Abyssinian, the Somali is intelligent, quite demanding and very people-orientated. Although they look like a wild cat and enjoy the stimulation of being outdoors, they also love their home comforts.
This is another large breed, both long and muscular. Their semi-long silky coat lacks undercoat so is not as profuse as other breeds, but the Van is very glamorous and sleek nevertheless. The coat markings are very distinctive - the base colour is a chalky-white, with coloured markings on and around the ears and tail. And their big claim to fame is a love of swimming! Originating from the Lake Van area of Turkey, the breed can still have a great affinity for being in water and will seek out lakes and ponds to swim in. Turkish Vans love to play with a running tap even more than most cats. They are resourceful and tough, but loving to people.
An ancient breed of cat, the Siamese is one of the most elegant of them all. They have a long, svelte body, powerful hind legs and piercing blue eyes. Like the Persian, the Siamese has changed quite dramatically over the years. The head is now more triangular, the eyes more slanted, the ears are larger and the body is smaller and more athletic. The Siamese coat is 'pointed', meaning the extremities are shaded darker than the rest of the body, notably on the legs and feet, face and ears, and tail. The coat is short and silky, with little undercoat. Although they require little grooming, the Siamese really are full-time cats which usually love people and demand lots of attention. Strong-willed and highly intelligent, the Siamese really is a force to be reckoned with.
The Siamese Group also include the Balinese breed.