From time to time, you’ll read about the development of a new cat breed. It’s interesting to see these new breeds develop, and there are two ways in which a new cat breed appears.
One way is by crossing two existing cat breeds.
Some crosses are accidental – the two breeds mate and the resulting kittens are quite different and attractive. Alternatively, breeders may choose to mate two different breeds in the hope of getting a kitten with the best characteristics of both breeds.
The Himalayan is an example of this, being a cross between a Siamese cat and a Persian cat. The result is a cat with the long coat of the Persian, and the color points of the Siamese.
The California Spangled Cat is also a carefully produced cross breed, with the predominant breed being the Bengal Cat.
Sometimes there may be spontaneous mutations in a cat’s genes, resulting in quite different characteristics. A good example of this is the Scottish Fold. Kittens with the “fold” gene will start to show folded ears when they’re three weeks old. It’s quite possible for a Scottish Fold cat to give birth to kittens with normal ears; they just have missed out on the “fold” gene.
Munchkin cats, with their short legs and normal sized body, are also the result of a natural gene mutation. Similarly, the La Perm breed has a spontaneous mutation which gives the kittens a lovely curly coat.
It’s important to be responsible when breeding a new breed of cat. Sometimes a genetic mutation can be accompanied by other genetic changes, not all of which are healthy. Because of the physical changes to their legs, Munchkin cats may be prone to curvature of the spine.
It’s a long slow process for a new breed of cat to become recognized by the cat registration societies. The requirements for registration vary from society to society. The first step is usually submission of an application for registration, which must include a breed standard, and details of several specimens of the new breed.
The breeders must show how their new breed is different to any breed that already exists, and also demonstrate why their breed will be an advantage to the cat loving community.
The next step is to increase the number of registered specimens of a new breed, and the establishment of a breed club.
For cat lovers, developing a new breed is an exciting time. It takes careful record keeping, responsible mating, and a lot of hard work. The end result is well worth it. Many of the breeds of cat we currently enjoy are less than 50 years old. If it wasn’t for those adventurous cat fanciers, we’d not enjoy the companionship of these unique individuals.