Choosing a breed of cat can be surprisingly difficult as they all have different characteristics, personalities and every day needs.
One of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether you’d like a longhaired or a shorthaired cat. Most Longhaired cats need lots of help with keeping their coats clean and tangle free which often pick up lots of dirt and other debris as they go about their daily business. If their coats aren’t brushed daily then there’s the risk of matting which can make movement very uncomfortable.
If you haven’t the time to dedicate to looking after a longhaired cat then you should consider a shorthaired breed (although please be aware that some shorthair breeds require some grooming too). Here’s a brief run down of some of the most popular long haired breeds available in the UK. (In my next post I’ll run down the most popular shorthaired breeds in the UK).
Persian longhair cats come in a variety of different colours and coat patterns. Their distinctive features include a flat face with short noses and small ears. They generally have quite soft and dense long hair which needs grooming every day – which can be a demanding commitment. They are generally very easy going, placid and friendly cats and should be suitable for most families. Persian breeds include the Black, Blue and Golden.
Maine Coon cats are amongst one of the oldest known breeds and originate from Maine in America. The other part of their name is thought to derive from the North American Racoon which has a similarly long, dense and furry tail – but whether this is true or not is debatable! Maine Coons are widely available in the UK and generally require a little less grooming than Persians. They are fairly large cats, and are well known for their waterproof coats which are usually thick and heavy with an undercoat. One of their more distinctive features is the chirpy noise they make! They are nearly always independent cats and should always have outdoor access.
Ragdoll cats are famous for being fairly docile in nature and for going limp when you pick them up! They are quite powerful in build with big round paws and a long bushy tail. Their coats are usually quite dense and silky requiring daily brushing with a soft brush. Ragdolls originate from California and, having a gentle and easygoing personality, are great for the whole family. There is a long standing myth that Ragdolls feel no pain, but this is of course complete nonsense!
The Birman cat is well known for being the sacred cat of Burma and is often described as being somewhere between a Persian and a Siamese. Birmans are well known for their “colourpointed” features with darker colouration on their legs, face (quite broad), tails and ears (which are fairly biggish). Further distinctive features are their white mittens on paws and striking blue eyes. They have fairly fine and silky, longish hair which requires regular daily grooming. They are generally very easy going and affectionate and make excellent family pets.
Balinese cats have their ancestry in Siamese cats and are often regarded as longhaired Siamese cats. It’s thought that in the many years of breeding Siamese cats the recessive gene for long hair eventually surfaced and a breeder in California is credited with making them into a fully fledged breed around 50 years ago. Balinese cats are found in all the same “point colours” as Siamese cats and have fine, silky medium length hair with distinctive feather plumed tails. They also have clear blue eyes and are known to be quite vocal – but not quite as vocal as pure Siamese. They are known to be slightly more demanding than other longhaired cats, but do like company and are generally quite playful and active.
Norwegian Forest Cat
The Norwegian Forest cat is a fairly large cat, known for its coarse and water resistant coat and very long tail. It is a fairly easygoing and independent cat that likes the outdoors and lives up to its name by being a great tree climber! One of its well known party tricks is walking down trees head first! It’s a very playful and active breed and should be given plenty of freedom to enjoy the outdoors.
Somali cats are essentially longhaired versions of the Abyssinian. The breed’s long hair is thought to have arisen from a recessive gene within the Abyssinian breeding population. The breed dates back to the 1960’s and was named after the country of Somalia. Somali cats have a very distinct “ticked” (three two-colour bands of colour on each hair) coat which is quite soft and dense and which needs regular daily grooming. They also have fairly bushy tails and are well known for their almost smiling expression and dark outlined, almond shaped eyes. They are sometimes considered a demanding breed, but do like company. They are usually very lively and energetic and absolutely love the outdoors.
The Turkish Van cat is unusual amongst cats for its supposed liking of water. Originating from the Lake Van region of Turkey, the breed was established in the UK in the 1960’s and is famous for it’s apparent liking for swimming. So much so that it’s often referred to as the “Turkish Swimming Cat”! They are known for their chalk white coat and distinctive ginger tails and ears with amazing yellowish eyes. They are fairly large cats and have soft, silky coats which need frequent grooming. They are friendly, affectionate and lively and make great family pets.
This is a very brief and general run down of just some of the various longhaired breeds available in the UK. Some breeds can be difficult to come by and you may have to undertake some research.
If you’d like to find out more about a particular breed you should get in touch with a breeder or ask your vet if they can recommend a local reputable breeder.
Next time I’ll be looking at the common shorthaired breeds available in the UK.