What Is America’s Favorite Cat Breed?

www.heikkisiltala.comCall it irony, or just odd – for the second consecutive year, the most popular cat breed in America is a breed most cat owners have never heard of. According to the Cat Fanciers’ Association registry of pedigreed cats, the Exotic is the most popular breed.

In 2014, the Exotic knocked the Persian off its long-time perch as top cat.

The Exotic is bred to meet the Persian standard in every way, with one special exception: the coat. Exotics have much shorter hair, though plush, giving them a rounded, teddy bear look.

While estimates vary on the total number of purebred or pedigree dogs and cats in America, out of the nearly 70 million pet dogs, about 35 to 40 percent or so are purebred. Of the 74 million cats, fewer than 10 percent are pedigreed.

Historically, dogs were bred for function -- and sometimes still are -- while few cats are bred to herd sheep or guard property. Good looks and temperament count in felines. Just as dogs ranging from St. Bernard's to the Miniature Schnauzers tend to have their own temperaments, the same is true for individual cat breeds.

Here's the CFA list of America's top-8 pedigreed cats:

  1. Exotic: Called the "lazy man's Persian," as this breed is pretty much the same as the Persian in every way, except for coat. No daily grooming required. These may be lap cats, or have other things on their agendas. Exotics are especially quiet cats. Though sometimes more playful than your average Persian; still they're not 'in your face' for attention cats. Exotics come in a variety of colors and patterns.
  1. Persian: Though easy-going, Persians are the royalty of the cat world, and they seem to know it. They enjoy your doting to improve upon their beauty, if that's even possible. Persians are a tad egocentric, as if they know they're born to be admired. Like their Exotic cousins, they have pushed-in faces and big, bold, round eyes of various colors. Daily grooming is required. Adult Persians aren't as interested in play as they are in posing for photos you can then post on Facebook. They come in a variety of colors.
  1. Maine Coon: Dubbed the Gentle Giant, the Maine Coon is an All-American breed. Bred originally from farm cats in the state for which they're named, they have large, well-tufted paws, allowing them to walk easily on top of snow. Their ears are large and tufted for protection and warmth. Maine Coons are one of many pedigreed cats dubbed "dog-like" for their outgoing dispositions and tendency to follow their favorite people around. While any cat can get along with dogs, Maine Coons have a special affinity for canine buddies. They come in many colors.
  1. Ragdoll: Their multi-colored coats and patterns are a part of their appeal, along with those sparkling blue eyes. These larger, long-haired cats' most noteworthy attribute is their habit of going limp when held, like a Ragdoll. In truth, this behavior doesn't always occur, but all Ragdolls are affectionate and devoted to their people. Though their exact ancestry is unknown, Ragdolls were bred in the U.S. starting in the 1960s.
  1. British Shorthair: Calm and affectionate, these cats just like to hang out. Developed from the hardy street cats of England, their eyes are round and typically bright copper or gold. The breed comes in several colors and patterns.
  1. American Shorthair: This breed (not to be confused with the common Domestic Shorthair) originated from cats following settlers from Europe to North America. Records indicate that even the Mayflower carried several cats to control rats on the ship. They continued as working rat-hunters in the New World. Some patterns are unique to the breed, and reminiscent of their wild cousins. Hardly wild in their demeanor, American Shorthairs do well with grandmas, as well as busy families with young children and dogs.
  1. Abyssinian: Arguably the most active breed, Aby's zoom around the house. They like to play games, often with people, and can even learn to fetch. If you can keep these cats busy, they're easy to maintain. Because they are so active, they do best with a littermate to play with, rather than your drapes. Their almost translucent coat pattern is due to a single gene which gives each hair several dark bands, evenly dispersed on a lighter background, resulting in a unique ticked pattern. Some individuals have tufts on their ears, like wild caracal cats.
  1. Sphynx: Picture the folically-impaired Mr. Bigglesworth from the Austin Powers movies. True, the movie gave a huge bump to this unique breed's popularity. On one paw, they're extremely affectionate, loving to share the covers with their people. On the other, they're sometimes called "monkey cats" for their dexterity, even riding on the shoulders of their favorite people. Due to their lack of hair that would normally absorb body oils, Sphynx need periodic bathing, and may leave oil spots where they sit frequently.

Rounding out the top 20:

  1. Siamese
  1. Scottish Fold
  1. Cornish Rex
  1. Devon Rex
  1. Oriental
  1. Norwegian Forest Cat
  1. Birman
  1. Burmese
  1. Siberian
  1. Tonkinese
  1. Russian Blue
  1. Egyptian Mau

©Steve Dale Pet World, LLC; Tribune Content Agency


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Positively Expert: Steve Dale

Steve is a certified dog and cat behavior consultant, has written several books, hosts two nationally syndicated radio shows, and has appeared on numerous TV shows including "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "National Geographic Explorer," and "Pets Part of the Family." Steve’s blog is www.stevedale.tv


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