You might be surprised that many of the most popular breeds of cats originated in the United States. Here's a roundup of 10 cat breeds with American roots.
- Maine coon. The official state cat of Maine, this gentle giant is one of the largest cat breeds, weighing up to 18 pounds. In fact, it's so big that some folks once believed it was a cross between a cat and a raccoon, hence the breed's name. Maine coon cats have a beautiful long silky coat that rarely mats, but it benefits from weekly grooming. It also comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns. Maine coon cats are a curious, easygoing breed that loves spending time with its family and generally gets along well with other cats and dogs.
- Ragdoll. Developed in the 1960s by California cat breeder Ann Baker, ragdolls are well-known for their bright blue eyes, color-pointed coat, and for their tendency to go completely limp when picked up. Ragdolls are a sweet, docile breed that can grow fairly large with males tipping the scales at 15 pounds or more. Their long, soft coat is easy to maintain with regular grooming and comes in different point colors: seal, blue, chocolate, and lilac and in three divisions: solid or colorpoint, parti-color bicolor, and parti-color mitted. They make excellent family pets because they are easy to handle and have such a cheerful personality.
- American shorthair. The early ancestors of the American shorthair breed were European cats brought to America as ship's cats that interbred with the local feline population. Over time, cat breeders worked to refine this short-haired working cat into a recognized breed that was once called the domestic shorthair. But in 1966, the breed was renamed the American shorthair to differentiate it from the more common mixed-breed cat from which it came. The American shorthair is a delightful, medium-size cat that gets along with people and other animals. It comes in an almost unlimited array of colors and patterns, but the most well-known coat color is the silver tabby.
- Himalayan. The Himalayan combines the best characteristics of both parents, the Persian and the Siamese. Developed in the 1930s, the Himalayan sports the bright blue eyes and pointed coat of the Siamese with the long, lustrous coat and snub nose of the Persian. Although many cat fanciers consider the Himalayan as a separate breed, others look at it as a variety of the Persian. In the end, though, it doesn't really matter because what's important is the fact that the Himalayan makes an amazing and beautiful pet that's smart, curious and engaging. Its lovely coat comes in several pointed colors including: seal, blue, chocolate, lilac, flame, tortoiseshell, and lynx.
- Exotic shorthair. Do you love the look and personality of the Persian but want to avoid grooming its long coat? Consider the exotic shorthair as an alternative. Developed in the 1950s, the exotic shorthair was created by crossing Persian cats with the American shorthair. The result was a friendly, outgoing cat that retained the snub nose and broad skull of the Persian with the short coat and more active personality of the American shorthair. They are sweet, affectionate cats that love attention and being in the center of family activities. Coat colors vary.
- Bengal. Technically, the Bengal is not a breed but a hybrid cat that was developed in California by crossing a domestic shorthair with an Asian leopard cat. They are prized for their bold, leopardlike spots; large eyes; and longer legs than a domestic cat. Bengals are inquisitive, active, outgoing animals, but it's important that you do some research before you bring a Bengal into your home. Only kittens that are four generations away from the leopard cat make good pets. Anything less than four generations could retain too much of the leopard cat genetics and develop temperament problems.
- Balinese. Developed in the 1950s by cat fanciers in California and New York, the Balinese is basically a long-haired form of the Siamese. They are gorgeous cats that retain the Siamese's outgoing, curious personality. Two versions of the Balinese are currently being bred. The traditional form, which has a longer coat and round head, and the contemporary form, which has a shorter coat and a narrower, wedgelike head. Both come in standard Siamese point colors: blue, chocolate, seal, and lilac.
- Pixiebob. The Pixiebob might look like a wild cat (they are supposed to resemble a wild bobcat), but they are all purr when you get to know them. Developed in Washington state, the Pixiebob is the result of natural breeding between a large, bobtail tom and a number of local spotted female cats. Over time, the breed has become prized for its outgoing personality, gorgeous spotted coat, and short bobbed tail. Pixiebobs can also be short or long-haired and might occasionally have extra toes. Color is usually a brown tabby pattern.
- Selkirk Rex. A Montana native, the Selkirk Rex sports a plush, curly coat in a variety of colors. Unlike the Devon or Cornish Rex breeds, the Selkirk Rex has a thicker coat and can be either long or short-haired. It was created by breeding a Persian cat with a curly-coated kitten found at a local animal shelter. The Selkirk Rex is a social, loving kitty that loves to spend quality time with its owners.
- American Bombay. The American Bombay is a Kentucky native. It was developed by a cat breeder whose goal was to create a domestic cat that had the sleek, good looks of a wild black panther. To do this, she crossed a black American shorthair with yellow eyes and a champion Burmese. Eventually, the breeder succeeded in producing the American Bombay. This sleek, outgoing cat is highly social and makes an ideal family pet. American Bombay cats are never shy and get along well with other cats and dogs. They crave attention and are highly trainable.
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