Category Archives: cat breeds

What is the Smartest Cat Breed?

By Langley Cornwell

It’s easier to measure a dog’s intelligence than a cat’s intelligence. I hope that statement doesn’t raise my cat-loving friends’ ire, but think about it: how do we measure a dog’s intelligence? Usually by noting how well a dog interacts with humans. How long it takes us to train a dog to learn what we want him to is another intelligence gauge. Same for cats. We rank a cat’s intelligence based on the interest he has in interacting with us and doing what we want him to do. Because this is the most common way of determining smart cat breeds, the breeds that are known to be more comfortable interacting with humans are often considered the smartest.

Are breeds that are commonly social, curious and active really more intelligent, or are we measuring them with an anthropomorphic prejudice?

Because cats use their acumen to solve problems relevant to cats (and not to humans), accurately measuring their intelligence or determining which breed is the smartest is difficult. We can train cats to perform simple tricks, using standard cat-training techniques coupled with healthy treats like FELIDAE TidNips. Still, humans may think some cat breeds are unable to learn on their own, but usually it’s just that the subject matter doesn’t interest the cat. Moreover, cats aren’t known to be good research subjects because, as most cat guardians know, they are not particularly cooperative. This fact makes measuring a cat’s problem-solving abilities nearly impossible.

Even so, Animal Planet took a stab at ranking the intelligence of most of the well-known cat breeds, giving each a score from one to 10. Of course, because it’s so hard to rank the intelligence of cat breeds, their data is subjective. And just like humans, there are substantial variations within a breed. Some cats are smarter than others within a breed. Those of you who have lived with more than one cat in the same house can attest to this.

Animal Planet’s Smartest Cat Breeds 

The only cat breed to achieve 10 out of 10 was the Sphynx. The list of cat breeds that received a high 9 out of 10 include (in alphabetical order, not order of intelligence):
• Balinese (essentially a long-haired Siamese)
• Bengal (a wild Asian Leopard Cat/domestic cat cross)
• Colourpoint Shorthair (a breed developed from the Siamese, and American and British Shorthairs)
• Havana Brown (a cross of Siamese and black British or American Shorthairs)
• Javanese (an Oriental Shorthair-Balinese cross)
• Oriental (developed from numerous breeds, including the Siamese)
• Siamese (a naturally occurring breed)

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The Sphynx, a Hairless Cat with a Charming Purrsonality

By Julia Williams

I vividly remember the first time I ever came face to face with a Sphynx cat. My friend and I were making the rounds at a cat show, oohing and aahing at all the beautiful kitties with their luxurious, fluffy coats brushed to perfection. We turned a corner and there they were, these peculiar hairless creatures with giant ears, wrinkled bodies and an alien-like appearance. I must admit my first thought was something like “What the heck are those things?” I saw them again recently on Animal Planet’s My Cat From Hell and had a similar reaction. I guess I’m just so used to seeing cats with fur that the Sphynx, by comparison, looks unnatural to me. However, the Sphynx reminds me of that old saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” The Sphynx may look odd to people who are used to furry felines, but many other cat lovers call the Sphynx ‘pure enchantment’ and value the breed for its affectionate nature and lively demeanor. I decided to research this interesting rare breed to find out more about it.

Appearance

Though the appearance of the breed is one of hairlessness (and some truly are) many actually have a light covering of soft, peach-like fuzz. Some Sphynx also have short, fine hair on their feet, tail or outer edges of the ears. The lack of fur makes the cat’s skin warm to the touch, described as feeling like a heated chamois or a suede-covered hot water bottle. The lack of fur also creates a feeling of resistance when petting the cat.

The breed’s lack of hair is governed by a recessive gene. It takes two copies of the gene for the hairless trait to express itself, so if both parents have only one copy, the number of hairless kittens in their litters will be approximately one in four.

The breed standard states that wrinkled skin is a desirable trait, particularly around the muzzle, between the ears, and around the shoulders. The Sphynx skin can be any color found in other felines, as well as any pattern (solid, point, van, tabby, etc.). Most Sphynx have no whiskers, but of those that do, the whiskers are short and sparse.

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Cat Breed Profile: the Turkish Van aka Swimming Cat

By Julia Williams

Although I’ve never actually had a purebred cat myself, I always like learning about different cat breeds. Many have fascinating histories or characteristics that make them unique. The rare Turkish Van cat actually has both.

The Turkish Van (pronounced “von”) is an ancient cat breed believed to have originated in the Lake Van region of Eastern Turkey. Unlike many purebred cats of today, the Turkish Van is a natural breed, not a man-made breed. Turkish Vans are a semi-longhaired white cat with colored markings primarily on the head and tail. Vans are said to be an active, affectionate, playful, intelligent, strong and healthy breed with no known genetic defects.

Perhaps most interesting of all is that Turkish Vans love water, hence their nickname “Swimming Cat.” Vans not only play in water, but will enter ponds, horse troughs and shallow streams to swim in it! Some have speculated that the cats learned to swim in order to cool off during the extremely hot Turkish summers, and to catch fish.

In an article published by the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) Diane Marcus writes, “The Turkish Van is unique – in its history, its color and pattern, its personality and its ability to survive, virtually unchanged for thousands of years. It shares an area known as the ‘Cradle of Civilization’ with mankind.”

History of the Turkish Van Cat

In 1955, British photographers Laura Lushington and Sonia Halliday were hired to promote tourism in Turkey. While traveling around taking photographs, they became interested in the native white cats with auburn markings on their heads and fluffy tails. After their assignment, the women took a pair of unrelated male and female Van cats back to England and found them to breed true, i.e., they produced kittens that looked exactly like their parents.

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Top 10 Pedigreed Cat Breeds

By Langley Cornwell

The Cat Fanciers’ Association, the largest global registry of pedigreed cat breeds, recognizes 42 different breeds. Out of the 42, some breeds seem to make the ‘most popular’ list year after year. Here is a list of pedigreed cat breeds that often top the charts. 

Persian

Have you ever seen a photograph of a fluffy, white, longhaired cat lounging in the background of a fancy reading room or formal living room? If so, the cat was probably a Persian. One of the most popular cat breeds, Persians are gorgeous – and photogenic. They have circular, open faces and wide, round, expressive eyes.  Known to be gentle, sweet felines, Persians need to feel secure and comfortable. They are playful and enjoy attention but are not demanding cats. Persians make wonderful pets.

Exotic

Persians consistently top the list of popular cat breeds. For people who are interested in the attributes of Persian cats but don’t have the time to groom that long, luscious hair, the Exotic is a perfect choice. Exotics are bred to meet the Persian standard in every way except for their fur; the Exotic’s coat is dense, plush and short. Otherwise, their personality and temperament are much like the loveable Persians.

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