Pedigree Cats - Breed Groups

By choosing a purebred cat, you more or less know what you are getting in advance – which can prevent problems further down the track.

Would a purebred cat suit you?

The major advantage of buying a pedigree cat is that you know what you are getting. Pedigree breeds tend to have their own set of character traits, which makes it ideal when you’re choosing a cat to fit in with your circumstances and lifestyle.

For example, if you want a laidback lap cat, a Persian would be a good choice. If, on the other hand, you want an active, vocal cat that will respond well to learning tricks, a Siamese is better.

Pedigree cat breed 1: British Shorthair

This breed originates from ordinary domestic cats and comes in a wide range of colours and coat patterns: from white to black to silver tabby. Breeders began to fix the type in the 19th century to ensure that the cat’s distinct qualities were preserved, until eventually the British Shorthair was recognised as a pedigree breed. A touch of Persian and Oriental was added to revive the breed when it came close to dying out in the mid-20th century.

The British Shorthair is a sturdy, healthy cat with a strong muscular body on short legs. It has a round face, large eyes, and a thick, short coat. Like the Persian, they can be independent and undemanding but will enjoy a good cuddle if it’s offered. Most enjoy being outdoors, but some may adapt well to life as house-cats.

Pedigree cat breed 2: Burmese

This is another breed that likes to make its presence felt! Vocal (but not as loud as the Siamese), the Burmese is often called the 'dog cat' because of its assertiveness, a canine-like loyalty to its owners, and its willingness to play retrieve games! Burmese cats love joining in with whatever you’re doing, making them very much 'sit-on-the-newspaper-if-your-owner-is-trying-to-read-it' types of cat!

The Burmese is medium-sized with a sturdy body, rounded chest, round head, and large eyes that have a slightly Siamese-type slant about them. They also have a soft, short, velvety coat that can come in a variety of colours.

Pedigree cat breed 3: Foreign Shorthairs

These breeds have little in common other than their outgoing, larger-than-life personalities. From the wild-looking Bengal, created through breeding a domestic cat with an Asian Leopard Cat, through to the impish, alien-looking Devon Rex, this is a very diverse group. Even size differences are noticeable, from the large Bengal through to the tiny Singapura.

Foreign shorthairs come from all corners of the earth, including England, Russia, the Far East, and Africa, and some (such as the Ocicat) are 'man-made' through crossing or adapting existing breeds.

Foreigns are generally 'people' cats. Active, intelligent, and demanding, they are the type that will nag you to bits when they want to eat, play, or cuddle – and they refuse to be ignored!

Pedigree cat breed 4: Oriental

The Oriental comes in two types: the shorthair and the semi-longhair. The short-coated type is best described as a coloured Siamese (in other words, without the pointed markings), while the long-coated variety is called the Angora. The Oriental often has similar physical and character traits as the Siamese, although only the white variety has blue eyes. All the other colours have yellow or green eyes.

Pedigree cat breed 4: Persian

The Persian is the real glamour-puss of the cat world. One of the oldest known breeds of pedigree cat, its crowning glory is its long, thick luxurious coat, which can grow up to six inches in length.

The Persian shape is 'cobby', meaning they have quite short legs, a short neck, and a broad chest. The brush-like tail is magnificent, and they also have a ruff of hair as a mane. Needless to say, with such a thick undercoat and long topcoat, the Persian needs extensive grooming (at least 20 minutes every day). The eyes also need attention, as they can be prone to weeping. But with a wide choice of colours and patterns, there really is a Persian to suit all tastes!

The Persian character is typically laidback and calm. They make a great house-cat and love snoozing, ideal if you work full-time. However, to stop them from becoming lonely during the day, another Persian is preferable as a companion to play with or to cuddle up to.

Pedigree cat breed 5: Semi-longhair types

This group contains six breeds that vary a great deal in looks and character, but which all share a similar, long (but not as long as a Persian) coat. Here's a quick character sketch of each one.


The Birman has a thick, silky coat, a luxurious tail, and piercing, round blue eyes. The coat comes in lots of colours and daily grooming is essential. It’s also pointed, which means the cat's extremities (legs, tail, face, and ears) are darker than the body. But because the paws aren’t pointed, it looks as if the cat is wearing mittens.

With a long but sturdy body, Birmans aren't as stocky as the Persian and some claim they have Siamese blood. Character-wise, the Birman is playful, friendly, intelligent, and relaxed. They are very loving and will often demand attention when they want a fuss made of them!

Maine Coon

The Maine Coon is a large, tough, handsome breed that has had to withstand the cold winters of Maine on America's east coast – hence the long, thick and weatherproof coat. They have a ruff around their neck and inbuilt earmuffs – hairy ears – to protect them. Their brush-like tail resembles that of a raccoon (hence the ‘Coon’ part of the name).

Elegant, well-proportioned, athletic, and powerful, the breed needs lots of stimulation and their chief love is the great outdoors. They make a supreme hunter and are rarely put off by the cold and wet. Maine Coons are unlikely to thrive as full-time house-cats, but they like spending time with their owners and make loving, playful, and highly trainable pets.

Norwegian Forest

Similar to the Maine Coon, the Norwegian Forest cat is another born survivor from the hostile climes of northern Scandinavia. Big and strong, with particularly powerful (and long) hind legs, they are very elegant. With triangular heads and large eyes, they are very attractive cats as well.

This particular breed is built for climbing and, as the name suggests, loves scaling trees. A big indoor cat tree is a must (to divert them from climbing anything else). A great lover of the outdoor life, the Norwegian Forest cat also loves human companionship indoors.


Originally created by crossing a female white Persian with a Birman male, the stunning Ragdoll is a gentle giant – large, heavy, but extremely placid. They have full cheeks, large, oval eyes, and a short neck. Despite their large size, they are very delicate-looking in appearance.

The name comes through their occasional habit of being so relaxed when picked up that they become floppy – like a rag doll. Quiet and extremely affectionate, the Ragdoll makes a superb house-cat often less interested in hunting than some of the more robust, outdoors-type breeds.


This is the long-haired variety of the Abyssinian. The coat isn't quite as long as others in this category, but a distinctively 'ticked' (where each hair has two or three bands of colour) coat makes it a striking feature of the breed. The Somali also has relatively large ears – a feature often found in cats that originate from a hot climate, as it helps them to lose heat.

Like the Abyssinian, the Somali is intelligent and very people-orientated. Although they look like a wild cat and enjoy the stimulation of being outdoors, they also love their home comforts.

Turkish Van

This is another large breed, both long and muscular. Their semi-long silky coat lacks undercoat, so is not as profuse as other breeds, but the Turkish Van is very glamorous and sleek nevertheless. The coat markings are very distinctive – the base colour is chalky-white, with coloured markings on and around the ears and tail. And their big claim to fame is a love of swimming!

Originating from the Lake Van area of Turkey, the breed can still have a great affinity for being in water and will seek out lakes and ponds to swim in. Turkish Vans love to play with a running tap even more than most cats. They are resourceful and tough but loving to people.

Pedigree cat breed 6: Siamese

An ancient breed of cat, the Siamese is one of the most elegant of them all. They have a long, svelte body, powerful hind legs, and piercing blue eyes.

Like the Persian, the Siamese has changed quite dramatically over the years. The head is now more triangular, the eyes more slanted, the ears are larger, and the body is smaller and more athletic. The Siamese coat is 'pointed', short, and silky, with little undercoat.

Although they require little grooming, the Siamese really are full-time cats that usually love people and demand lots of attention. Strong-willed and highly intelligent, the Siamese really is a force to be reckoned with!

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