Sphynx

The Sphynx (also known as the Canadian Hairless) is one of the newer cat breeds. It is reported that the first Sphynx was born in Canada in 1966, in Roncesvalles, Toronto when a hairless kitten named Prune was born. The kitten was mated with its mother (a process known as backcrossing), which produced one more naked kitten. The lack of hair on the Sphynx is caused by a genetic imbalance and occurs about once every fifteen years. Despite the Sphynx appearing to be a hairless cat it is in fact not truly hairless. The skin will have the texture of chamois leather or a ripe peach. This covering is a very soft, fine down, which is almost imperceptible to both the eye.
Sphynx
Sphynx cat with typically large ears.
Lack of a thick coat makes the cat quite warm to the touch. Hair in the form of Whiskers and eyebrows may be present or may in some extreme cases be totally absent. It is said that the skin of this feline is the color their fur would have been had it been present, and all the usual cat marking patterns (solid, point, van, tabby, tortie, etc) may be found in Sphynx too. This is a very unusual trait. The personality of the Sphynx is generally warm and friendly, highly intelligent, inquisitive and extroverted. They are also very affectionate and social animals. If kept as a pet the Sphynx should always have the company of others (be they other Sphynx or humans) so that they have companionship throughout each and every day. It is said to be cruel to keep a sphynx isolated for long periods. Many people with typical allergies to cats with full fur coats find that they tolerate the Sphynx breed well. Because Sphynx don’t leave hair all over the house this is thought to make them an easier cat to keep. This is not strictly so! Their lack of hair results in increased body oils so regular bathing is often necessary, which is an inconvenience most cat owners dont have to deal with. Also the Sphynx will be going outdoors as often as your ‘common’ domestic cat (if at all) Care should be taken to limit the Sphynx cat’s exposure to outdoor sunlight as they can develop a sunburn, similar to that caused in humans. In general, Sphynx cats should never be allowed outdoors unattended, as they have limited means to conserve body heat in colder temperatures, and their curious nature can take them into dangerous places or situations.
A semi-coated Sphynx showing skin markings.
The Sphynx breed is known for a sturdy, heavy body a wedge-shaped head and an alert friendly temperament. Although hairless cats have been reported throughout history (hairless cats seem to appear naturally about every 15 years or so), and breeders in Canada have been working on the Sphynx breed since the early 1960s, the current American and European Sphynx breed is descended from two lines of natural mutations: Other hairless breeds might have different body shapes or temperaments than those described above. There are, for example, new hairless breeds, including the Don Sphynx and the Peterbald from Russia, which arose from their own spontaneous mutations. The standard for the Sphynx differs between cat associations such as TICA, FIFE and CFA. Sphynx hairlessness is produced by a ‘strain’ of the same gene that produces the Cornish Rex, which has only one of the usual two fur coats. The Sphynx strain (or allele) is incompletely dominant over the Devon allele; both are recessive (or revert) to the wild type. Sphynx were at one time crossbred with Devon Rex in an attempt to strengthen this gene, but unfortunately this led to serious dental or nervous-system problems and is now forbidden in most breed standards associations. A genetic heart defect was also introduced by the Devon Rex breed. The only allowable out-cross breeds in the CFA are now the American Short-hair and Domestic Short-hair. Other associations may vary. In Europe mainly Devon Rex has been used for out-crosses.
One of many ‘Dr. Evil’ cats, The Sphynx ‘Mr Bigglesworth’

Oriental Shorthair

The Oriental Shorthair breed is also called a “Foreign Type” cat. This cat combines the Siamese body with a diversity of colorings and patterns. Oriental Shorthairs are intelligent, social animals who bond closely to their people. They are inquisitive, friendly, emotional, demanding and often quite vocal. Oriental Shorthairs have been likened to a Greyhound or a Chihuahua in appearance. Some people say they are ‘dog-like’ in personality, particularly because they become so attached to people.
Oriental Shorthairs
Oriental Shorthair – emotionally demanding and often quite vocal.
Description The Oriental Shorthair is a self-coloured (non-pointed) member of the Siamese Family. They can be found in solid colors (white, red, cream, ebony, blue, chestnut, lavender, cinnamon, or fawn), smoke (white undercoat to any of the above except white), shaded (only the hair tips colored), parti-color (red or cream splashes on any of the above), tabby (mackerel/striped, ticked, spotted, and blotched/classic), and bi-colored (any of the above, with white). In total, there are over 300 color and pattern combinations possible. Though in CFA, pointed cats from Oriental Shorthair parents are considered Any Other Variety (AOV), in TICA, as well as in the majority of worldwide Cat Associations, these cats are considered to be, and compete as, Siamese. Oriental Shorthairs have expressive, almond-shaped eyes, a wedge-shaped head with large ears that fit in the wedge of the head. Their bodies are very elegant yet muscular. When seeing an Oriental Shorthair, one would never guess them to be as solid as they are. The longhaired version of the Oriental Shorthair, Oriental Longhair, simply carries a pair of the recessive long hair gene. Origins The Siamese cat was imported to Britain from Siam (Thailand) in the later half of the 1800s. According to reports, both pointed and solid colors were imported. The gene that causes the color to be restricted to the points is a recessive gene, therefore the general population of the cats of Siam were largely self (solid) colored. When the cats from Siam were bred, the pointed cats were eventually registered as Siamese the others were referred to as “non-blue eyed siamese” or foreign shorthair. Other breeds that were developed from the moggies of Siam include the Havana Brown and the Korat. It was not until 1977 that the Oriental Shorthair was accepted for competition into the CFA. In 1985, the CFA recognized the bicolor oriental shorthair. The bicolor is any one of the accepted oriental shorthair color patterns with the addition of white to the belly, face, and legs/paws.

Manx Cat

The Manx is a breed of cats with a naturally occurring mutation of the spine. This mutation shortens the tail, resulting in a range of tail lengths from normal to tailless. Many Manx have a small ‘stub’ of a tail, but Manx cats are best known as being entirely tailless and it is the distinguishing characteristic of the breed and a cat body type genetic mutation.

Manx
Manx Cat with distinguishing stumpy tail

The Manx breed originated on the Isle of Man (hence the name), where they are common. They are called ‘stubbin’ in the Manx language.

They are an old breed, and these tailless cats were common on the island as long as three hundred years ago. The taillessness arises from a genetic mutation that became common on the island (apparently an example of the ‘Founder’ effect). The Manx tailless gene is dominant and highly transferable from generation to generation; kittens from Manx parents are generally born without any tail.

Having two copies of the gene is lethal to the animal and kittens are usually spontaneously aborted before birth in these cases. This means that tailless cats can carry only one copy of the gene. Because of the danger of having two copies of the tailless gene, breeders have to be careful about breeding two tailless Manxes together. Problems can be avoided by breeding tailless cats with tailed ones and this breeding practice is responsible for the decreasing occurrence of spinal problems in recent years.

There are various legends that seek to explain why the Manx has no tail.

In one of them, Noah closed the door of the ark when it began to rain and accidentally cut off the Manx’s tail, who’d been playing and almost got left behind. Another legend claims that the Manx is the offspring of a cat and a rabbit which is why it has no tail and rather long hind legs. In addition, they move with more of a hop than a stride, like a rabbit. This legend was further reinforced by the ‘Cabbit’ myth.

Recent postcards on the Isle of Man depict a cartoon scene of a cat’s tail being run over and removed by a motorbike, because motorbike racing is popular on the Island.

Long Haired Manx Cat

In appearance the hind legs of a Manx are longer than the front legs, creating a continuous arch from shoulders to rump giving the cat a rounded appearance.

Manx kittens are classified according to tail length:

* Dimple rumpy or rumpy – no tail whatsoever * Riser or rumpy riser – stub of cartilage or several vertebrae under the fur, most noticeable when kitten is happy and raising its ‘tail’ * Stumpy – partial tail, more than a ‘riser’ but less than ‘tailed’ (in rare cases kittens are born with kinked tails because of incomplete growth of the tail during development) * Tailed or longy – complete or near complete tail

Breeders have reported all tail lengths even within the same litter.

The ideal show Manx is the rumpy; the stumpy and tailed Manx do not qualify to be shown. In the past, kittens with stumpy or full tails have been docked at birth as a preventative measure due to some partial tails being very prone to a form of arthritis that causes the cat severe pain.

Manx cats exhibit two coat lengths. The short-haired Manx has a double coat with a thick, short under-layer and a longer, coarse outer-layer with guard hairs. The long-haired Manx, known to some cat registries as the Cymric, has a silky-textured double coat of medium length, with britches, belly and neck ruff, tufts of fur between the toes and full ear furnishings. The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) considers the Cymric to be a variety of Manx and judges it in the short-hair division, while The International Cat Association (TICA) judges it in the long-hair division. Short- or long-haired, all Manx have a thick double-layered coat.

In health the pedigreed Manx cats today are much healthier and have fewer health issues related to their genetics than the Manx of years ago. This is due in part to the careful selection of breeding stock, and knowledgeable, dedicated breeders. Manx have been known to live into their mid to late teens and are no less healthy than other cat breeds.

Like any other cat, keeping Manx cats indoors, neutering or spaying, and providing acceptable surfaces for the cat’s normal scratching behavior are vital to lengthen the life of any cat.

Turkish Van

The Turkish Van (Turkish: Van Kedisi, Armenian: Վանա կատու) is a rare, naturally occurring breed of cat from the Lake Van region of present-day Turkey. For Turkish Vans, the word van refers to their color pattern, where the color is restricted to the head and the tail, and the rest of the cat is white. It is the maximum expression of the piebald white spotting gene that makes the van pattern. The spotting gene appears in many different species (like the horse and ball python). It also shows up in the common house cat, so a cat that shows this color pattern but is not registered or from the Van region, is called a “Vanalike”.
Turkish Van
Turkish Van – The swimming Moggy
Characteristics The coat on a Van is considered semi-longhaired. While many cats have three distinct hair types in their coat – guard hairs, awn hairs and down hairs – the Turkish Van only has one. This makes their coat feel like cashmere or rabbit fur, and the coat dries quickly when wet. Lake Van is a region of temperature extremes and the cats have evolved a coat that grows thick in the winter with a large ruff and bottlebrush tail for the harsh winters and then sheds out short in the body for the warm summers. The full tail is kept year round. The Van is one of the larger cat breeds. The males can reach 20 lb (9 kg) and the females weigh about half of that. They have massive paws and rippling hard muscle structure which allows them to be very strong jumpers. Vans can easily hit the top of a refrigerator from a cold start on the floor. They are slow to mature and this process can take 3-5 years. Also, their fetching skills are quite good and they are quick to learn. Perhaps the most interesting trait of the breed is its fascination with water; most cat breeds dislike being immersed in water. The unusual trait may be due to the breed’s proximity to Lake Van in their native country; it may have acquired this trait due to the very hot summers and have extremely waterproof coats that make bathing them a challenge. As such, Vans have been nicknamed the “Swimming Cats” for this most unusual trait. Most Vans in the United States are indoor cats and do not have access to large bodies of water, but their love and curiosity of water stays with them. Instead of swimming they stir their water bowls and invent fishing games in the toilet. Breed standards Breed standards allow for one or more body spots as long as there is no more than 20% color and the cat does not give the appearance of a bi-color. Although red tabby and white is the classic van color, the color on a van’s head and tail can be one of the following: Red, Cream, Black, Blue, Red Tabby, Cream Tabby, Brown Tabby, Blue Tabby, Tortoiseshell, Dilute Tortoiseshell (also known as blue-cream), Brown Patched Tabby, Blue patched Tabby and any other color not showing evidence of hybridization with the pointed cats (Siamese, Himalayan, etc).

British Longhair

The British Longhair cat is a semi-longhair version of British Shorthair. Apart from fur, it is identical to the British Shorthair. The British Longhair is also known as Lowlander in U.S. and Britanica in Europe, but is not recognised in the UK as a separate breed.
The rationale for this breed is that the original longhaired British cat, through interbreeding with imported longhairs, was developed into the Persian and became increasingly massive and extreme in type and with longer, thicker fur than the early Persians. During the late 19th Century and early 20th Century, the Persian was considered the longhaired analogue of the British Shorthair (Frances Simpson’s The Book of the Cat depicts and describes the old type of Persian). During the latter part of the 20th Century a shorthaired version of the modern Persian was developed and was called the Exotic Shorthair; this was very different from the British Shorthair. It was therefore proposed that a longhaired cat of the British type be reintroduced into the cat breeds.