When you are looking to buy a cat, it is likely that you will become overwhelmed by the sheer number of cat breeds there are available. On this page, we want to talk about the number of cat breeds out there. Although, the answer is probably not going to be as simple as you may think.
So, how many cat breeds are there? Well, it is tough to know. This is because there are a lot of cat organizations that claim they are the arbiter of defining cat breeds. All of these have different ideas about what should be defined as a breed. Therefore, the number of distinct cat breeds could be anywhere from 15 to over 70. It depends on who you ask.
We understand that this can be slightly confusing to some. So, let us expand on this a little bit. We want to give you an idea about why there are disagreements about what defines a cat breed. We can also give you advice on determining what cat breed you own.
How Many Cat Breeds Are There?
As we said before, this is going to be completely dependent on who you ask. For example, there are 44 officially recognized cat breeds in the United States. However, if you go to France, there are 48 different breeds. Some countries may even have as little as 15 different recognized breeds.
Perhaps the best indicator of how many breeds there are is The International Cat Association or TICA for short. They claim that there are 71 different breeds of cats around the world. However, do bear in mind that the cat breeds that they recognize may not be recognized in the US.
Honestly, the only time that you actually need to worry about how many cat breeds there are is if you are registering your cat as a pedigree cat, or are perhaps entering a cat show. This isn’t really something that will impact the average cat owner outside of choosing the breed that they want. After all, some traits are specific to certain breeds of cats.
How is a Cat Breed Defined?
There is so much confusion with how many cat breeds there are, all due to how certain organizations define a cat breed. Again, this is tough to predict.
In general, cat breeds will be differentiated based on their look. This includes body type, size, colorings, markings, hair length, etc. Behavior may also come into the mix, but this is going to be a bit rarer when it comes to cat breeds as opposed to other animals.
Due to how cats are bred (more on that in a short while), some cat breeds are going to be very similar to one another when it comes to those factors. As a result, some cat breed registration directories are going to claim that two breeds that may seem distinct in one place may be the same breed. For example, the Himalayan breed of cat is seen as a distinct breed by some registries. However, it is simply a different color version of the Persian by others.
It is also worth noting that there are some organizations that refuse to recognize breeds that have serious health issues about them. This is to discourage the breeding of those cats.
Each cat breed will have a specific group of people, mainly top breeders for that cat, who produce a breed specification. This is, essentially, a list of traits that they believe defines that particular cat. These breed specifications barely ever get changed.
How Are New Cat Breeds Developed?
All cat breeds come from the same cat stock that was domestic thousands and thousands of years ago. These were the wild cats that humans started to interact with. Eventually, the cats become domesticated i.e. they became animals that would have use around the home rather than animals that could thrive in the wild.
During the first few thousand years of cats being domesticated, the breeds would have developed. However, the breed development would have been accidental. Cats would have bred with others that have different traits, fur color, nose shapes to them. The resulting cat would be one that looked like a combination of the two cats that mated to breed it. We suppose that it is similar to as if you or I had a kid. it would look like a combination of both partners.
When proper breed development started, breeders would start to look for certain traits that they really liked. For example, if they liked a certain fur color, then they would breed together two cats with the same fur color. If they aimed for a certain nose shape, then they would breed together cats with a similar nose shape until they got the cat they wanted. Basically, they were selectively breeding for their genetics.
Over several generations of selective breeding, cat breeds would start to develop. This means cats that had the look that the breeder wanted. With countless breeders doing the same thing, you would end up with tons of different cat breeds, even if they all originated from the same place.
How Do You Know What Breed of Cat You Have?
Technically, if you do not have the paperwork that came with your cat, then you do not have a cat breed at all. Most breed organizations will not recognize a cat breed unless their lineage can be proven i.e. you know the breeds of their parents, grandparents, etc. Without the paperwork, you just have a mixed breed cat, at least in the eyes of breeding organizations.
The only real way to get an idea as to what cat breed you have is to look online and compare the look of your cat to similar cats. Although, do bear in mind that your cat may be a combination of several different breeds.
Remember, if you do not have a provable pedigree for your cat, you can’t claim that it is a specific breed nor enter it in cat competitions.
How Many Cat Breeds Are There Final Thoughts
It is impossible to state exactly how many cat breeds there are due to the varying criteria that define what a breed is. However, for the most part, you do not have to worry about what breed of cat that you have. Unless you are planning on breeding or entering competitions, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you love your cat for what they are.
What is your favorite cat breed? Let us know in the comment section below and if you would to learn more about all the different types of cat breeds, checkout out massive cat breeds A-Z article here!