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Although there are several hundred different breeds of domesticated dogs varying in shape from Bulldog to Greyhound and in size from Chihuahua to Irish Wolfhound the domestic cat breeds are no where as varied.

The dog has been selectively bred to produce breeds capable of performing various functions for man and this has resulted in great variation of type and temperament.

The cat has been selectively bred for a much shorter period of time and still retains the physical characteristics of the wild feline family.

Domestic cats can be divided into three basic body types, cobby, muscular and lithe. The cobby cats are solidly built with thick short legs, broad shoulders and rump and a short rounded head.

Breeds which have this physique include Persians, Exotic Shorthairs, Chinchillas and Persians. Generally cobby cats are generally placid and affectionate cats.

The muscular body type have medium length legs, shoulders and rump that are neither wide nornarrow, and a medium-long slightly rounded head. The domestic "moggie" belongs in this category as do British Shorthairs etc.

The lithe body type is lighlty built with long slim legs, narrow shoulders and rump and a long, narrow, wedge - shaped head. The Siamese is typical of this build.

Cats are further divided into categories by coat type. There are three types of hair in a cats coat - the topcoat or guard hairs, and two types of undercoat hairs - the bristly awn hairs and the soft curly down hairs.

Longhaired cats have very long guard hairs (up to 12.5cms) coupled with plentiful long down hairs making the coat extremely full and dense. Longhaired cats require the maximum of grooming and whilst their coat is truly their crowning glory there is nothing sadder than a longhaired cat with a neglected and matted coat.

The "curly" cats, Devon Rex and Cornish Rex, have different coats although both are very short and curly. The Devon Rex has guard, down and awn hairs but all three are very short and curly. Whisker hairs are short or non-existent. The Cornish Rex has no guard hairs, only very short and curly awn and down hairs.


The basic feline coat pattern is the tiger striped tabby which has the perfect camouflage markings to blend in with the background. Selective breeding from natural mutations has led to a wide diversity of coatcolour and markings and is much more varied than in dogs. Purebred cats occur in colours ranging from pure white through to jet black. In between these two extremes are the beautiful blues, smokes, silvers, lilacs, creams, oranges, reds and chocolates. Combine these colours with white to produce bicolours or with spots and stripes, and it can be seen that the breeding of purebred cats requires quite a knowledge of the inheritance of colour.

Petcare Information and Advisory Service Australia

Last Update: 15/03/07 08:06 Views: 3064

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