By: Lorraine Shelton, copyright 2013
The Internet LOVES "Top Ten" lists and every cat website seems to have a list of "The Most Popular Cat Breeds". My objection with these lists is that they are rarely the result of any original research. These sites simply reformat and restate data given to them by one of the many cat registries in the world. Also keep in mind that, unlike the dog fancy, pedigreed cats represent only 2-3% of all owned cats.
The problem is that there is no centralized database of every pedigreed cat worldwide. Some cats are registered in more than one registry. Some registries accept different breeds or define those breeds in different ways, leading to incomplete or inaccurate information. Rumors abound of just how many cats are regstered "over there" in another country or different registry. I would like to start dispelling those myths in a series of blog posts about the current and historical state of the cat fancy. Additional contributions are welcome and will be credited to their source.
For the past decade or so I have personally compiled registration data from the main cat registries thorughout the world. Information for the US and UK and major registries in Europe is relatively easy to obtain. I have yet to start crunching data from South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, but I hope to do so soon.
For 2012, here were the most popular breeds registered worldwide:
1. Persians/Himalayans/Exotics: At approximately double the number of the next most popular breed, the "Persian family" cats dwarf all other pedigreed cats.
2. Maine Coons: Especially when overseas data is compiled, the huge popularity of this all American breed is apparent. I would not be surprised that in another couple of decades, the popularity of the Maine Coon overcomes that of the Persian family breeds. This breed is growing in popularity, while the Persian is steadily decreasing.
3. Bengals: This "wild cat blood" breed, shunned by the largest American registry (CFA), is taking the world by storm. Half the number of the Persian family cats, but growing in popularity.
4. Ragdolls: Another all American breed, growing in popularity both in the US and abroad.
5. Birman: The popularity of this lovely French breed is apparent worldwide. The number of these cats registered in France has helped to make LOOF, not CFA, the "World's Largest Registry of Pedigreed Cats" for 2012.
6. British Shorthair (including British Longhair): The popularity of this breed across all registries in the world may bring this breed even higher in the rankings when Australia and New Zealand are brought into the picture.
7. Norwegian Forest Cats: the popularity of this breed in Europe may make it underrepresented by my statistics, due to my inability to capture data from the many "independent" clubs across the pond.
8. Siamese/Oriental (including LH): Arguably the most recognizable cat breed in the world, the slip in this breed's popularity over the years has been dramatic.
9. Sphynx: These amusing cats are one of the fastest growing in popularity.
10. Siberian/Neva Masquerade: The lack of data from WCF and Russia in my analysis makes this breed potentially underrepresented in my evaluation as well.
More specific information about different breeds and trends across the different registries will follow over the next few months.
A group of Turkeys for the holidays... well, Turkish Angoras, that is. The cat fancy has so much to be grateful for this year. Despite the tough times with the economy, our shows go on, with the magnificent CFA International held last weekend reigning again as the largest cat show in North America with 633 beautiful cats traveling to Atlanta to be handled by the most popular CFA judges, as voted on by breeders. My husband, Michael, had the privilege of being invited to clerk at the show, so he had a front row seat for all the excitement.
The show held near you this weekend may be a bit smaller, a little less flashy, but is still guaranteed to bring a smile to your face as you see owners and judges handle beautiful pedigreed cats and kittens... as well as very special household pet contestants whose pedigrees may be known only to Mother Nature. To find a cat show near you, visit: http://www.tica.org or http://www.cfa.org
Make sure you share a bit of the Thanksgiving turkey (no bones, please!) with the special cat(s) of your family. Whether your cat came from a dedicated breeder or your local animal shelter or rescue group, give thanks that you found each other!
A truly unique experience in the cat fancy every year is the annual salute to the Bengal breed, called On Safari. Every Bengal breeder considers this show a "must attend" event. There are educational activities, special awards for the feline participants, an evening banquet, and so many spots before your eyes it will make you dizzy!
The most valuable part of this show is the interaction between the breeders as they honestly evaluate the current year's competitors. Breeders vote on which cats exhibit the best examples of prized traits such as pattern and head type. Every breeder goes home with renewed excitement for the future of their breeding program, new or reinforced friendships, and as a more knowledgeable Bengal breeder.
Shouldn't EVERY breed have an annual specialty show like this one?
If you are in the Portland Oregon area on October 31st or November 1st, don't miss this very special event. This exhibition is open to the public, so if you've ever wanted to learn more about the beautiful Bengal cat breed, come to the show and learn from the top breeders in the country. This show is an allbreed show, with over 250 cats of more than 30 different breeds, so even if Bengals aren't your favorite breed, you will have plenty of fabulous felines to admire. Household Pets are also welcome in competition. For more information on entering or visiting the show, follow this link: http://www.tncc.org/