Top 10 Cat Breeds

CFA Names Nation's Most Popular Felines

The Cat Fanciers' Association, the world's largest registry of pedigree cats, has announced which cat breeds were most popular in 2011.

Of the 41 cat breeds recognized by the CFA, the top 10 feline companions listed below are those which Americans preferred to take home in the past year.

10. Sphynx Cats

Sphynx cat

The Sphynx, a hairless, wrinkled wonder with big ears and eyes and pronounced cheekbones is one of the newer cat breeds. The first Sphynx was born in Canada in 1966, according to the CFA. The lack of hair, a genetic anomaly, was a result of Mother Nature and occurs about once every 15 years.

Since this time, the Sphynx has been bred with traditional shorthair cats, and then bred back to hairless to create a genetically sound, healthy breed. The breed’s unique look has caught the eye of many cat lovers. Though rare, it has recently become one of the most in-demand cats in the U.S.

The Sphynx is definitely a “people cat”. They are energetic, silly and playful, and love to be the center of attention. You’ll find that your Sphynx is always with you, or always trying to find a way to steal your attention from whatever else might be occupying your time. This “look at me” attitude makes them well-suited for show, according to the Cat Fanciers’ Association. The Sphynx also gets along well with other cats and dogs.

The Sphynx is not an outdoor cat. Because their skin is exposed, Sphynx cats need to be protected from the elements. That doesn’t mean they can’t go outside; just that they should not live outdoors.

Read more about Sphynx cats

9. Oriental Cats

Oriental cat

The oriental cat’s history is unique. Created by U.S. breeders who wanted to expand the look of the Siamese cat by introducing a range of colors, the breed was divided into two groups: shorthairs and longhairs. In 1995, the two groups were merged into one, known simply as the oriental. But what sets the oriental cat apart is its wide range of colors and patterns. It is known to have more than 300 different color and pattern combinations.

The oriental cat tends to be an entertainer and loves to interact with people. This breed often forms a strong bond with one person. His inquisitive nature means that he’ll go to great lengths to be involved in your activities. He likes to feel like he’s always part of the action. These cats are also very vocal, so expect a lot of pleasant conversation in your household. The oriental cat is good with adults as well as older children, so he’s perfect for families or singles.

One of the most loyal cats around, the oriental cat is a true companion. He will always be there to greet you at the door and “ask” how your day has been. Give your oriental cat the time and attention he needs, and he will be your grateful companion for years to come.

Read more about Oriental cats

8. American Shorthair Cats

American Shorthair cat

The American shorthair cat has a reputation as “America’s breed”. The first cats of this type were brought over from Europe with early settlers. They were valued for their ability as great hunters and killing disease-carrying rats that threatened passengers. In later years, this breed was put to work hunting rodents during the Gold Rush of 1849 and was a favorite of farmers.

Today, the American shorthair is a family favorite. It consistently ranks as on of the 10 most popular cat breeds. The breed is known to have a very even temperament with a good disposition and keen intelligence. Another testament to its mellow nature is the shorthair’s ability to get along with other pets and its gentle nature around children. A shorthair is considered an ideal pet for a working family with children.

The most well-known shorthair cat is the silver tabby, which has dense black markings set on a sterling silver background. You’ve likely seen this variety in TV commercials or movies.

Read more about American shorthair cats

7. Birman Cats

Birman cat

Believed to have originated in Burma, the friendly, blue-eyed Birman cats are considered sacred cats of the Kittah priests.

According to the CFA, a pair of Birman cats—a male and female—were shipped from Burma to France around 1919. Unfortunately, the male didn’t survive the journey, but the pregnant female did, establishing the breed in the Western world.

Birmans are friendly, intelligent and affectionate cats, and make great companions for those seeking a cat that takes an interest in the events occurring around them. Active, yet gentle, Birmans are generally calm and mild-mannered, and normally get along with other household pets and children.

Read more about Birman cats

6. Ragdoll Cats

Ragdoll Cat

Easygoing and loving, ragdoll cats get their name from their tendency to relax and go limp in one’s arms when picked up. One of the largest breeds of cats, ragdolls are also one of the most affectionate, often referred to as “puppy-cats” because of their dog-like personality.

Ragdolls are extremely mild-mannered and friendly, and often seek out human companionship, such as following people around the house, sleeping with or flopping on their owners. This breed is particularly good with children and other pets and is easily trained to learn the same tricks as dogs, such as playing fetch, rolling over or begging.

Because they are gentle and sometimes lack the ability to defend themselves, ragdolls should not be left unattended outdoors.

Read more about Ragdoll cats

5. Abyssinian Cats

Abyssinian cat

Abys, as they are lovingly called, are elegant and regal-looking, easy to care for and make ideal pets for cat lovers.

Abyssinians are lively and expressive, with slightly wedge-shaped heads, half-cupped ears, medium length bodies and well-developed muscles. Their legs are long and slender, and their coats are short and close-lying to their bodies. Their overall appearance bears a resemblance to ancient Egyptian cats.

Abyssinians are not lap cats, but are affectionate, loyal and normally mix well with children and other pets. Known for their curiosity, playfulness and need to explore their surroundings, Abyssinians are people-oriented cats who like to participate in the activities taking place around them.

Read more about Abyssinians

4. Siamese Cats

Siamese cats

Siamese cats are one of the oldest recognized and established breeds of cat. This shorthaired breed is one of the most sociable of all feline breeds—and one of the most popular, widely recognizable by their blue, almond-shaped eyes, short coat, elongated body and chiseled, wedge-shaped faces.

According to the CFA, the Siamese breed was discovered by the English more than 100 years ago. Siamese cats are believed to have hailed from Asia; specifically Thailand (then Siam), and are one of the first recognized breeds of oriental, or foreign, cats.

Siamese cats have loud, low-pitced meows and are quite vocal, often times demanding attention. Normally active and playful cats, this breed seeks out companionship from their human counterparts, whether that entails sitting laps or being in bed with their owners.

Because of their attention-seeking personalities, Siamese cats are often compared to dogs since they tend to folow their owners around, and have been known to willingly walk on leashes.

Read more about Siamese cats

3. Exotic Shorthair Cats

Exotic shorthair cat

The Exotic cat (also called the Exotic shorthair by some cat associations) is a cross between Persians and American Shorthairs.

Exotic cats are bred to meet the Persian standard in almost every way with one exception: their coats. Exotics, unlike their Persian counterparts, have short, thick, dense coats, making them popular among people who enjoy the Persian personality but don’t want the hassle or the time required for daily grooming. Exotics are affectionately referred to as “The Lazy Man’s Persian” because of this.

The Exotic personality tends to mimic that of a Persian: sweet, affectionate and playful. Exotic cats are known to show more affection and loyalty than other feline breeds, and commonly follow their owners throughout the home.

Read more about Exotic shorthair cats

2. Maine Coon Cats

Maine Coon cat

One of the oldest natural breeds in North America, Maine Coon cats are known for their intelligence and playfulness, as well as their size. One of the largest breeds of domestic cats, they are lovingly referred to as “gentle giants”.

Aside from their large size, Maine Coons are also known for their shaggy coats and rugged appearance. Full-grown male Maine Coons can grow to be 30 lbs., with females weighing a little less. These gentle giants generally reach full size by age three to five.

Maine Coons are people-oriented, energetic and highly-intelligent, making them an easy breed to train. They’re also known for their dog-like behavior: following their owners from room to room, coming when called and playing fetch with their owners. They have a very small voice for their large size; their voice is more of a chirp than it is a meow.

Read more about Maine Coon cats

1. Persian Cats

Persian cat

Known for their gentle, laid-back personalities, sweet faces and round eyes, Persian cats are affectionate, quiet, beautiful creatures of habit, making them the most popular breed among cat fanciers.

Persian cats are not only the most popular breed of cats, they’ve also been around the longest. In fact, hieroglyphics reference their origination as far back a 1684 B.C. Thought to have originated in Persia (now Iran), the cats were named after their believed “country of origin”.

Although the breed has evolved over time in color and body type, one thing has remained the same: its thick and full fur. Ideally, Persians should be groomed at least once a day to prevent knots and matting of the fur. Persians should also be bathed occasionally to maintain a clean and healthy coat.

Read more about Persian cats

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