Ocicat

The Ocicat is a new and still-rare breed of cat which has spots resembling a ‘wild’ cat and the temperament of a domestic animal, named for its resemblance to the ocelot. Despite its appearance, there is no ‘wild’ DNA in the Ocicat’s gene pool. The species is actually a mixture of Siamese and Abyssinian, and later American Shorthairs (silver tabbies) were added to the mix and gave the breed their silver colour, bone structure and distinct markings.
Ocicat
Ocicat – named for its resemblance to the Ocelot and still a rare breed
The first breeder of Ocicats was Virginia Daly, of Berkley, Michigan, who attempted to breed an Abyssinian-pointed Siamese in 1964. The first generation of kittens appeared Abyssinian, but the surprising result in the second generation was a spotted kitten, Tonga, nicknamed an ‘ocicat’ by the breeder’s daughter. Tonga was neutered and sold as a pet, but further breedings of his parents produced more spotted kittens, and became the base of a separate Ocicat breeding program. Other breeders joined in and used the same recipe, siamese * aby, and offspring * siamese. Today the ocicat is found all around the world, popular for its temperament but wild appearance. Ocicats are a very outgoing breed. They are often considered to have the spirit of a dog in a cat’s body. Most can easily be trained to fetch, walk on a leash and harness, come when called, speak, sit, lie down on command and a large array of other dog-related tricks. Some even take readily to the water. Ocicats are also very friendly. They will typically march straight up to strangers and announce that they’d like to be petted. This makes them great family pets, and most can also get along well with animals of other species. Ocicats make excellent pets for people who want to spend a lot of time with their cat, but they do require more attention than cats who aren’t so people-oriented.
An Ocelot
Ocelot – South American / Mexican wild cat.
There are twelve colors approved for the ocicat breed. Tawny, chocolate and cinnamon, their dilutes, blue, lavender and fawn, and all of them with silver: black silver (ebony silver), chocolate silver, cinnamon silver, blue silver, lavender silver and fawn silver.

Norwegian Forest Cat

The Norwegian Forest Cat is a breed of domestic cat native to Northern Europe, and adapted to very cold climates. In Norway they are known as Skogkatter or Skaukatter (skog and skau being forms of the word for ‘forest’ in different Norwegian dialects) or more properly, the Norsk Skogkatt (literally, Norwegian Forest Cat).
Norwegian Forest Cat
Norwegian Forest Cat.
The breed is very old, and occurred as a natural adaptation to the cold climate of the region, but it was not regarded as anything other than a standard house-cat until the late 1930s, when a small number of ‘Skaukatts’ were shown in Germany and received very favourably by the judges. World War II brought an abrupt end to the fledgling Norwegian show cat industry, and the breed was forgotten until the 1970s. The cats are now being bred and shown in several countries including the United States. The first international association to accept the breed was FIFe, in 1977. They are rumored to be the early ancestors of the Maine Coon and the long-haired Manx. Like Maine Coons, Norwegian Forest Cats are an intelligent, robust and playful breed. They like the outdoors, are well suited to cold conditions and are great hunters. Despite their great affection for the outdoors, however, they also enjoy the company of humans and other pets and will sometimes go looking for company if left alone by their owners. They are not easily stressed and are quite patient, which makes them great for a family with children. They appreciate high vantage points and enjoy climbing trees, or, if they are indoor cats, climbing on appliances, bookshelves and other elevated surfaces in the home. Norwegian Forest Cats have a thick fluffy double-layered coat, tufted ears and a long bushy tail to protect them against the cold. Their coat is essentially waterproof due to its coarse outer layer and dense underlay. They are very large cats with adult males weighing 6 to 10 kg (13 to 22 lb), while females are approximately half that size. Their hind legs are longer than their front legs. They are very intelligent, playful cats that enjoy human company. The nickname of “Wegie” began in the United States and is a shortened version of the word Norwegian.

Norwegian Forest Cat Website

Russian Blue

The Russian Blue breed has a lean medium-sized body and a short, plush, blue coat. The colour is a bluish-gray that is the dilute expression of the black gene. The coat is unique to the breed as it is a double coat, with the undercoat being soft and downy, and the longer guard hairs an even blue with silver tips. This “tipping” gives the coat a shimmering appearance. Its eyes are green and ideally should be dark and vivid.
Russian Blue ~ I hope, Ed.
A Stately Russian Blue
Photograph: jumillas.com

Common imperfections include yellow eyes, white patches on the underside and dark banding on the tail. These cats are highly intelligent and playful but tend to be curious around strangers. They also develop a close bond with their human companions.

Unlike so many modern cat breeds, the Russian Blue is a naturally occurring breed which is believed to have originated in the port of Arkhangelsk, Russia (hence the name), although the evidence for this is purely anecdotal. They are also sometimes called Archangel Blues, as many believe the Russian Blue is a natural breed originating from the Archangel Isles in northern Russia. Legend has these beautiful animals trapped for their plush double coats which are sometimes compared to the coat of a beaver or seal. Originally known as the Archangel Cat or Foreign Blue, it is believed that they were brought by sailors from the Archangel Isles to England and Northern Europe in the 1860s. Rumor also has the Russian Blue as a descendant of the Royal Cat of the Russian Czars and as a favored pet of Queen Victoria. First shown in 1875 at the Crystal Palace in England as the Archangel Cat, the original Russian Blue competed in a class for all blue cats. It was not until 1912 that the Russian Blue was given a class of its own. From its early origins until after World War II, English and Scandinavian breeders worked to develop the foundation bloodlines for the contemporary Russian Blue. Although Russians were imported to the United States as early as 1900, there is little recorded work with the breed in America until after World War II. American breeders combined the English bloodlines with their plush, silvery coats and Scandinavian bloodlines with their emerald green eyes and flat profiles to produce the Russian Blue we know today. In the 1960s the Russian Blue began to gain popularity and has become a favorite both at cat shows and at home.
Beautiful Russian Blue “Annie”
Photograph: Pat Hardy of Machika Burmese & Russian Blues. [taken from the russianblue.org website]
The Russian Blue is a gentle, affectionate cat easily distinguished from other breeds. One of the most outstanding features of the Russian Blue is a short, dense coat of an even, bright blue color with each hair dipped in silver. This silver tipping gives the Russian a silvery sheen and lustrous appearance that can best be appreciated in natural light. Russian Blues come in only one color, blue, and one coat length, short.The density of the coat causes it to stand out from the body and allows patterns to be traced in the coat which remain until you smooth them away. In lovely contrast to the blue coat, the Russian Blue has large, rounded, wide-set eyes that are a vivid green. During and following World War II, due to a lack of numbers of Russian Blues, some cross breeding with the Siamese breed was introduced. The Siamese traits have now been largely bred out. The majority of their modern breeding program has been carried out in the U.S.. Although they have been used on a limited basis to create other breeds (such as the Havana Brown) or add type to a breed in creation (the Nebelung), Russian Blues themselves are shorthaired, blue cats. Russian Blues should not be confused with ‘British Blues’ (which are not a distinct breed but rather a British Shorthair with a blue coat), nor the Chartreux or Korat which are two other naturally occurring breeds of blue cats. During the early 1970s, Mavis Jones, a Russian Blue breeder in Australia, mated a domestic white cat with a Russian Blue with the intent to create a solid white Russian Blue. By the late 1970s, the Russian White and Russian Black colors were accepted by cat fanciers in Australia as true Russian cats. These hybridized colors are accepted in a few other registries and only on a limited basis.

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).