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Wonder what breed of cat you have? There are clues that may help you decide.

Wish you had an idea what breed of cat you have? Sometimes it can be pretty difficult to tell, even though it might feel satisfying to know for sure. If you’d like to come closer to determining what breed your cat may be, or mix he or she may be, the information below may be of some help.

What is a Purebred Cat?
The Cat Fanciers Glossary defines purebred as, “Purebred: A cat whose ancestors are all of the same breed, or whose ancestry includes crossbreeding that is allowed in the breed standard. For example, a purebred Bombay may also have Burmese cats in its background.” Generally a cat’s pedigree (list of ancestry) must be certified by the registry before it can rightfully be called a “purebred.”

If it Walks Like a Maine Coon…
“Purebred” is sort of a lazy lay term used by those of us outside the cat fancy to describe a cat of a given breed. More commonly, however, people will subscribe to the “if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it must be a duck” theory. A very common example is the Maine Coon cat, with its distinctive ear tufts, ruff, bushy tail, and sweet voice. If it’s the case that the cat was adopted from a shelter, or found wandering on the street, it rightfully could be claimed as a Maine Coon mix since it lacks the necessary documentation for a full-fledged Maine Coon. The photos above show a registered, pedigreed Maine Coon, and a possible Maine Coon mix (without documentation), but more properly known as a DLH (Domestic Longhair cat). Sometimes visually it’s tough determining the difference between the two–can you tell which is which?

The same goes for the American Shorthair breed, which, like the Maine Coon, is indigenous to North America. Virtually every DSH (Domestic Shorthair cat) tabby cat could be called an “American Shorthair,” were it not for that important documentation. I’m sure ASH breeders could readily tell the difference, but most of us lay people could not.

Breed Rescue Groups
Most of the major cat breeds have rescue groups dedicated to saving and protecting a particular breed. They generally have two methods of rescuing cats:

From Shelters – Most of the cats breed rescue groups take in are breed “look-alikes,” and will be subsequently be offered for adoption as mixed-breed cats, e.g. “Maine Coon mix.” Occasionally they will be called in when animal control has shut down a breeder for overcrowding, unhealthy conditions, or upon the death of a breeder who has no known family to take custody.

Directly From Breeders – At times a reputable breeder who is no longer able to care for his or her cats, possibly due to illness, may contact a breed rescue group to ensure that their cats find good homes where they will be loved and cared for properly. The same will also apply upon the death of a breeder, whose heirs have either no means or intentions or carrying on with the cattery. Breed rescue groups provide a valuable service to the breeds they represent and are an integral part of the cat fancy.

So, What Breed is My Cat?
Do your homework. Familiarize yourself with the various cat breeds. Then ask yourself two questions:

1. What breed does he most resemble?
2. Do I have a registry and pedigree for this cat?

If your answer to question number 2 is “no,” then you can only legitimately call him a “mixed (choose your breed),” or you could save yourself a lot of time and trouble by calling him your domestic cat (or “Moggie”, as I often call mine). The most important thing is, of course, that no matter what you call your cat, you love him or her unconditionally, regardless of breed or heritage.

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