Feline Breeds, Domestic Shorthair Cats, and Color Patterns

Understanding Cat Terminology

Cat enthusiasts often encounter terms like “purebred,” “domestic shorthair,” and “tabby.” Let’s clarify these distinctions for a better understanding.

Breeds, “Purebred,” and Pedigree:

  • Over 70 cat breeds are recognized by various registries.
  • A “purebred” cat has ancestors of the same breed or a few specific crossbred breeds as allowed.
  • A cat must have a traceable lineage for several generations to be registered as a pedigreed cat.

What Is a Purebred Cat?

  • A cat with ancestors of the same breed or a few allowed crossbred breeds.
  • Each breed registry sets standards for color patterns in shows.

Non-Pedigreed Cats:

  • Domestic Shorthair cat: Unidentified by breed, includes DSH (shorthair), DMH (medium hair), and DLH (long hair).
  • Housecat: Any domesticated cat living in a house.
  • Moggie: Affectionate term used for non-specific breed cats.
  • Alleycat: Term fallen out of use due to efforts to rehome alley cats.
  • Mixed Breed: Indicates possible presence of a specific breed in a cat’s lineage.

Polydactyl Cats:

  • Have extra toes, often called “polydacts” or “Hemingway cats.”
  • Not recognized as a distinct breed by most registries.

Color Patterns:

  • Cats come in a variety of colors and patterns determined by genetics.
  • Three basic “self” colors: red (orange), black, and white.

Common Cat Color Patterns:

  • Tabbies: Recognizable by stripes, spots, and whorls. Types include Mackerel, Classic, and Spotted tabbies.
  • Solids: Basic colors are red, black, and white, with dilute versions.
  • Tri-color Cats: Almost always female due to genetics. Calico (blocks of red, black, and white) and Tortoiseshell (interwoven red and black) are examples.
  • Tuxedo: Black coat with a white bib and feet.
  • Bi-Color: Large blocks of one color with white. Can include various combinations.
  • Points or Pointed Markings: Darker shades on ears, muzzle, tail, and feet. Seen in breeds like Siamese and Himalayan.

Understanding these terms can deepen your appreciation for the diversity of cats, whether they’re purebred or cherished domestic companions.

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