By Tom Hewitt
Edited By April Jones
How many cat breeds would you guess there are in the world? I didn’t have much of a clue until I investigated. I pretty much thought of all cats as just cats. But it turns out the answer isn’t totally straightforward—it depends on which authority you consult and how they define a breed. Plus, the answer often changes because new breeds are constantly being developed. The International Cat Association (TICA) currently recognizes seventy-one cat breeds for championship competition. Other bodies might answer the question differently; for example, the International Progressive Cat Breeders’ Alliance (IPCBA) lists, by my count, seventy-two breeds.
At any rate, it’s safe to say the number of cat breeds is much lower than the number of dog breeds, which is in the hundreds. Physiologically, cats are not quite as diverse as dogs—cats tend to be roughly the same size and shape (even if they vary in characteristics such as hair length), while dogs can range from very small to very large and have an even more diverse range of physical appearance than cats. There are fewer cat breeds because dog domestication has gone on longer in human history than cat domestication; also, dogs have been bred by humans
over the millennia to fill a larger number of roles.
Still, cats can be very different, and the various breeds (not to mention each individual cat) are far from interchangeable. If you are thinking of getting a cat, you will want to consider several factors, such as: how much a cat from a certain breed is likely to shed and how much grooming it will need; how loud or quiet the
cat is likely to be; and how much attention or entertainment it is likely to want.
Animal Planet provides an online cat breed selector that is an excellent resource to help you find a breed that is right for your personal wants, needs, and circumstances. Or, you can browse cat breeds on the same website to see how each breed has been ranked in terms of characteristics like playfulness, vocality, and grooming needs. This website is a useful resource if you are searching for a new feline friend, or if you just want to learn about some of the more unusual and exotic types of cat that are out there.