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new breeds


The last 100 years have seen an explosion in the number of recognized cat breeds. Prior to the 1800s cats were kept as mousecatchers and companions (not necessarily in that order), but little thought was given to breeding them for particular characteristics. In the middle 1800s cat lovers began taking an interest in showing their special companions and entering them for competition. The cat fancy as we know it today began in 1871 when the first modern-day type of cat show was held in London’s Crystal Palace (see the discussion of cat shows in Chapter Eleven). At that show, 170 cats were exhibited, including tabbies, Siamese, and a Birman look-alike, but the Persians and Angoras really stole the show.

Since then, the art of cat breeding, and creating new breeds, has become something of a national pastime to fanciers of Felis catus. More than half of the breeds recognized by our cat associations have existed for less than 50 years, and we can count on more to come in the years ahead as fanciers identity and promote feline variations.

New cat breeds are either classified as spontaneous mutations (like the American Curl and Scottish Fold) or are created by hybridization of two or more previously known breeds (like the Himalayan and the Ocicat). The requirements for acceptance of a new breed are stringent and vary depending upon the association. To be accepted, a new breed — or new color of an existing breed — must first be recognized for registration. The requirements for acceptance of a new breed or a new color within a recognized breed vary from association to association; however, even when the conditions are met, there’s no guarantee that the breed will be accepted.

For example, in the CFA, the fanciers of a new breed must submit a formal application that has been signed by at least ten breeders working with the new breed. They must also submit a tentative breed standard, classification information, and registration applications for at least 50 specimens of the new breed or color in order to be considered for registration.

The next step toward acceptance is Provisional or New Breed and Color status. The Provisional Breed class is for any registered cat or kitten of a breed that has been accepted for registration with an association but has not yet been accepted for Championship competition. In CFA and CFF this is called Provisional; in AACE, ACA, ACFA, and TICA this class is called New Breed and Color. In CCA and UFO this is called the New Breed category.

For a breed to be granted Provisional status in the CFA, at least 100 specimens must be registered over a period of not less than five years and fanciers must submit a definite breed standard, a list of acceptable colors, a cutoff date for breeds allowed in the ancestry, and recommendations for Breed Committee members. At least one CFA breed club also must be formed. Also, the breeders must demonstrate the potential value to the cat fancy of their new breed or color. In other words, the breeders must show that their breed is unlike any other breed currently accepted by the association and that the breed has qualities that will benefit the cat fancy as a whole.

When a breed is accepted for Provisional or New Breed and Color status, such cats earn awards only in those classes — they cannot compete for Championship competition until the breed is accepted for Championship.

The final step is Championship. In the CFA, for example, once Provisional status has been achieved, evidence must exist that the new breed is being extensively shown in CFA shows in all of the regions. Then the CFA board determines when it is appropriate to advance a breed to Championship status. Judges submit reports regarding the new breeds that they have judged. In order to consider a breed for Championship competition, the board must have a breed standard that has been agreed upon by the breeders, a list of acceptable colors for Championship competition, and proof that at least 25 different cats have been shown in CFA shows throughout all of the regions. As you can see, getting a new breed recognized is not a simple process — it takes the concerted effort of many cat fanciers over a long period.

Following are profiles of some of the new or experimental breeds that are currently seeking association acceptance. The personality charts have not been included in these profiles because many of these breeds will require more time to settle into a uniform pattern of behavior.

American Bobtail
California Spangled Cat
Selkirk Rex
York Chocolate

Picture(s): DCI |


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