How Many Breeds of Cats Are There in The World?

How Many Breeds of Cats Are There?

Here’s something that many cat owners don’t know: Tortoiseshell, calico, and tabby aren’t cat breeds — these terms merely describe a cat’s coat pattern or fur color. In reality, there are dozens of cat breeds across the globe of all shapes, sizes, and patterns (including the Bengal, Cymric, and Manx). So how many breeds of cats are there?

There are 71 cat breeds recognized by The International Cat Association (TICA). The organization also continually adds new breeds each year, such as the Aphrodite, Tennessee Rex, and Toybob. These 71 breeds do not include the average household cat, typically known as the domestic shorthair (DSH).

There are dozens of recognized cat breeds in the world, and many are still in the works. To learn about how many breeds of cats there are (and what makes some of them unique), read on!

How Many Cat Breeds Are There in the World?

The Bengal, Russian Blue, Persian, and Maine Coon are all easily recognizable pure cat breeds. But they aren’t quite as common as you might think. In reality, pedigreed cats only make up about 5% of the world’s total cat population! And these four distinguished breeds hardly scratch the surface — there may be 71 breeds of cats (and counting).How Many Breeds of Cats Are There in The World?

The answer to this question is a bit tricky because it depends on the cat fancier association.

The International Cat Association (TICA)

The International Cat Association is the most accepting organization by far regarding how many breeds it accepts. On top of 71 unique cat breeds that include the Devon Rex, Minuet, and Pixiebob, TICA also boasts breed categories for:

 

CategoryExamplesDistinction
Non-Championship BreedsHousehold cats and kittensCan earn championship titles comparable to pure breedsAdvanced New BreedsSerengeti, Highlander (including the shorthair)Can earn a championship, but must follow strider rulesPreliminary New BreedsToybob, Tennessee Rex, AphroditeCan participate in competitions but aren’t eligible for titles yet

Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFe)

Fédération Internationale Féline registers cat breeds across 41 nationals globally, including territories in Europe, Asia, and South America. Of the 48 pedigreed breeds accepted by FIFe and spanning six unique categories, some examples include:

 

CategoryExamplesDistinction
Non-Championship BreedsHousehold cats and kittensCan earn championship titles comparable to pure breedsAdvanced New BreedsSerengeti, Highlander (including the shorthair)Can earn a championship, but must follow strider rulesPreliminary New BreedsToybob, Tennessee Rex, AphroditeCan participate in competitions but aren’t eligible for titles yet

The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA)

The Cat Fanciers’ Association has the most rigorous guidelines for formally recognizing a cat breed. As of 2020, there are 45 unique pedigreed breeds welcomed into the CFA, including Bombay, Korat, and Oriental. However, the organization also boasts a “miscellaneous” category for breeds nearing championship status, including:

  • Toybob
  • Lykoi
  • Khao Manee

What About New Breeds?

Well-known pedigreed breeds like the Abyssinian earned formal recognition by the FIFe as early as 1949. Meanwhile, the Thai cat’s recognition came nearly 70 years later, in 2017. In other words, cat fancier organizations are always vying to expand their recognized breed database, though the requirements to add a new breed are quite stringent.

Take the example of new breeds in TICA.

To earn a spot as a “preliminary new breed,” there must be at least five breeders spanning three separate regions, ten litters, and 15 adults — which can take several years on its own. For a new cat breed to become eligible for the elite “championship” status with TICA, there must be over 200 adult cats, 15 breeders, 25+ participating in TICA-hosted shows. In some cases, it could take several decades for a breed to reach this point.

To complicate matters even further, TICA (and other associations) don’t accept all new breeds with open arms. For example, the GCCF (Governing Council of the Cat Fancy) refused to induct the Munchkin Cat into its association due to dangerous health concerns — specifically joint and spinal issues resulting from the breed’s abnormally short legs. And the CFA is reluctant to recognize any domestic breed mixed with a wildcat due to possible behavioral concerns.

What About Mixed-Breed Cats?

Very few cats are indeed “purebred,” as there’s little way to tell how pure the bloodline remained hundreds or even thousands of years ago. In the cat world, we call a mixed-breed domestic cat a “moggie.” But when a mixed-breed cat comes from two purebred bloodlines, that’s a “hybrid.”

Some popular hybrid cat breeds include:

Hybrid BreedCombined Breeds
SerengetiBengal & Oriental
CheetohBengal & Ocicat
ChausieWild Jungle Cat & Abyssinian
Bengal CatEgyptian Mau & Asian Leopard Cat
Pixie BobAmerican Bobcat & Domestic Cat
SavannahAfrican Serval & Domestic Cat
OcicatAbyssinian, American Shorthair & Siamese
ToygerStriped Domestic Shorthair & Bengal

Cat fancier organizations like TICA do accept hybrid breeds, but only if both bloodlines lack mutations and you can prove the genetic lineage of the breed. Of the hybrid cats above, TICA recognizes the following:

  • Bengal (as well as the longhair variation)
  • Serengeti (but only as an “advanced new breed” for now)
  • Chausie
  • Pixie Bob
  • Savannah
  • Ocicat
  • Toyger

The CFA has far stricter guidelines regarding mixing domestic and wildcats. That’s why you won’t see the Savannah (combined with the African Serval) or Pixie Bob (mixed with an American Bobcat) in the CFA’s database.

What Is the Most Common Cat Breed?

There may be 71 (or more) pedigreed cat breeds out there, but about 95% of the world’s cats aren’t purebred — they’re domestic shorthairs (DSH). A domestic shorthair cat is your standard household cat, though physical appearance varies greatly.

Here are some variations of the domestic cat:

  • Eye Color: Brown, green, blue, hazel, or gold (or any combination of these)
  • Coat Color: Red, cream, sable, black, chocolate, blue, white, etc.
  • Coat Pattern: Tortoiseshell, tabby, calico, bi-color, Harlequin, tuxedo, etc.
  • Weight: 6-16 pounds

And while the standard domestic cat may not have the easily recognizable blue eyes of the Ragdoll or hairless appearance of the Sphynx, a DSH is just as loving and adorable.

Want to learn more about the other common cat breeds? The video below reviews ten of the most popular across the globe!

How to Identify Your Cat’s Breed

If you adopted your cat from a shelter, you likely never received pedigree paperwork describing your cat’s ancestral lineage. That means discovering your cat’s breed can be a challenging task, especially if you’re confident your cat is at least half purebred (and not a standard DSH).

The easiest (and least expensive) way to figure out your cat’s breed is by looking at images of some of the more common breeds. Compare your cat’s eye color, size, tail shape, and coat pattern to these breeds and check for similarities. For example, it’s more common for a Ragdoll, Siamese, Birman, or Himalayan cat to have ice blue eyes than a regular house cat — so look for traits that don’t span dozens of breeds!

Not surprisingly, you can also invest in a product like the Basepaws Cat DNA Test Kit. All you have to do is swab the inside of your cat’s cheek, send the kit back to the manufacturer, and you’ll discover which of 21 cat breeds your kitty shares DNA with. You may learn that the oversized cat you rescued from the shelter is half Maine Coon!

Conclusion

Remember that, while some breeds appear similar in appearance or name, each one is unique. If you’re planning to adopt a purebred kitty, research the breed’s approximate lifespan, adult weight, and predominant health issues.

You may find that the breed doesn’t match your lifestyle perfectly (ex: a 20+ pound Maine Coon may not be a good fit in a studio apartment) or is expensive to care for (ex: a Persian cat may require grooming sessions four times a year). Though the allure of owning a luxury cat breed is undeniable, ensure you can care for the breed first before investing.

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