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american domestic

"The phrase 'domestic cat' is an oxymoron." — George Will

INTRODUCTION

Big or small, white or black, long- or shorthaired, the American domestic has always been Best of Breed in American homes and hearts. While the mixed-breed or “randombred” domestic cat is not considered a breed as such by the cat associations, it has made a greater contribution to human culture than the purebreds have. Randombred cats have been with us for thousands of years, while purebreds as such have been with us only since 1871 (if you judge the recognition of purebred cats to have started at Harrison Weir’s cat show held in that year). Even cats whose origins go back hundreds of years, such as the Siamese and the Angora, developed and bred haphazardly without much initial help from their human companions. In that sense, we owe all of our purebred cats to the randombred domestic feline. Also, a number of our purebred breeds have been specifically bred with the American domestic or have arisen from the domestic gene pool. The American domestic deserves just as much love, quality care, and respect as the finest purebred Grand Champion.

Randombred cats have advantages as companions as well, with their (usually) healthy mix of genes and diverse personalities, colors, patterns, and conformations. The variation of American domestics is amazing. And as for sheer numbers, randombred cats make up an estimated 95 percent of the cat population of the United States.

Randombred cats do have disadvantages as well as advantages, however. Since the ancestry of the domestic kitten is generally not known and (as a rule) they don’t breed true as most purebreds do, it’s difficult if not impossible to predict what the cat will be like as an adult. It may be quiet or vocal, large or small, outgoing or withdrawn. While purebreds do have their own unique personalities, they are more likely to follow the pattern of their breed and therefore produce predictable offspring.

Obtaining a Randombred Cat
Acquiring a domestic cat is certainly easier than getting a purebred, not to mention cheaper. Our nation’s shelters are overflowing with beautiful, healthy cats and kittens that would love the chance to share your life. Visiting your local shelter or humane society is an excellent way of getting your dream cat, and most likely you will be saving it from that final walk down “death row” as well. If you have your heart set on a kitten rather than an adult cat, you might keep in mind that June is Adopt-a-Shelter Cat Month, and with the annual spring crop of kittens a variety of domestics will be available at your local shelter.

While preference and emphasis are given to purebred cats in the cat shows, the cat associations have household pet categories in which randombred cats can compete. This is usually called the Household Pet Category (HHP). HHPs must be altered to be shown, and in the CFA and CFF they must not be declawed. (TICA and ACFA allow declawed HHPs, ACA may allow it depending upon the sponsoring club, and AACE and UFO neither promote nor penalize declawing.)

All associations except the CFA, CCA, and ACA bestow titles on their HHPs. While different from the titles granted purebred cats, these titles indicate that the cat has accumulated a certain number of points and has won particular awards.

The cats are judged on overall beauty, personality and demeanor, condition, balance, and proportion rather than on a specific conformation standard. This makes judging an HHP much more subjective than purebred judging, and an appealing personality is therefore even more important. An outgoing, relaxed, people-oriented cat in prime condition will likely do well in this category.

As in the purebred divisions, meticulous grooming and overall care are important if the cat is to earn awards. In the TICA standard (not all associations have standards for household pets), of the 100 points possible, beauty can be awarded up to 20 points and personality up to 25 points, but condition is worth up to 55 points of the total.

Since the judging procedure is basically the same for household pets as for purebreds, the HHP category is a good place for fanciers to break into the cat show world. Many fanciers who have gone on to showing prestigious purebreds have started in the HHP category. Others never leave HHPs and continue to show their randombred cats without ever moving on to purebred showing. While you’ll never get rich showing in the HHP category (or in any category, for that matter), the rewards can be just as great as for showing purebreds. You can come home with winning ribbons, happy in the knowledge that others find your beloved kitty to be as beautiful and lovable as you do.

The HHP category is also used to show pet-quality purebreds that do not meet the standard closely enough to be shown among members of their own breeds. Unpedigreed purebreds and cats that are part purebred can be shown in this category as well. The category is also sometimes used to show cats not yet accepted as breeds by the associations. Fanciers do this to gain exposure for the breeds and to allow the judges to handle and examine the cats.

Not all cat shows have an HHP division. Some cat clubs that sponsor the shows are more receptive to the HHP category than others. Contact the sponsoring cat club to find out if the HHP category will be included and how it will be handled. The attitude of the cat club can affect your show experience. Cat clubs exist that cater specifically to household pets, such as the Happy Household Pet Cat Club of New York, which is open to all mixed-breed cats and pet-quality purebred cats. Shows sponsored by such clubs welcome the randombred cat.

Randombred Cat

Picture(s): DCI |

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