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.