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The Different Breeds of Cat

Aug 17, 2007
In 1953 the American Can Company, which produces containers for commercial pet foods and was therefore interested, discovered in a survey that there were 26,700,000 domestic cats in the United States.

By "domestic", it is meant cats who, however casual their membership, belong to human families. Most of them - 13.2 million - were found to be farm cats. Seven million were city cats, and 6.5 million lived somewhere in between.

The South had the most cats (9.7 million), the Far West the fewest (3.2 million). The East had the most urban cats (2.4 million), the Midwest the most farm cats (5.8 million); no surprises there.

Overall, 29 per cent of the nation's families had one or more cats. Farm families had the most cats; nearly half of them owned three or more. The nationwide average was 2.21 cats per cat-owning family. Low-income families were found to be far more likely to have cats than were the high-income families.

To arrive at a figure for all the nation's cats, however, there must be added the worker types who patrol or inhabit our stores and factories, warehouses and wharves, restaurants and military bases, and who go down to the sea in ships. One estimate places them at half a million.

Then there are the cats nobody owns, who live a gypsy existence in the city streets and the wooded country areas. These may number another two million, although obviously a figure like this has to be either a wild guess or come straight from some cat.

Assuming the latter, we have a total of 29,200,000 cats, which is probably inexact and not highly important, yet rather nice to contemplate if you like cats.

This great number makes rather impressive the fact which follows. This is that, despite the vast number, there are basically only two categories of cat: long-haired and short-haired. Within them there are perhaps six recognized breeds and several varieties about whose classification as breed cat experts and fanciers have earnest, inconclusive discussions. Beyond this, however, there is nothing more to choose from until you get to ocelots and jaguars. As a type, the cat has been remarkably consistent for a very long time.

In the cat world, as elsewhere, the common people far outnumber the aristocrats. It is a safe guess that 99 out of any 100 cats encountered will be plain, ordinary citizens belonging in the boundless company of Domestic Short-hairs. This is the proper name for the group carelessly called "alley cats," and while it does contain a number of woebegone and misbegotten creatures, it is not to be sneered at. It is a breed, and prime cats have emerged from it to win top prizes at cat shows.

The deluxe breeds in the remaining one per cent include the long-haired Persians (and/or Angoras), and the short-haired Siamese, Burmese, Abyssinian and Manx. There are also several in-between groupings, such as the Blues and Tortoise-shells, which may be long - or short-haired and are classified primarily by color. The Blues, for instance, include the Maltese, Russian Blue, British Blue, and so on.
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