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What Breed is My Cat? Identification Guide

According to The International Cat Association, there are 71 officially recognized cat breeds. Of course, not every cat is purebred, so any particular feline could be a mix of two or more of these official breeds, making it exceptionally hard to identify a cat whose breed is unknown. But cat lovers are commonly adding cats to their family that they know little to nothing about. Anyone who knows a feline fanatic has almost certainly seen them add a feral kitty to their collection at one point or another!

If you purchase a cat from a breeder or pet store, you’ll know exactly what type of kitten you’re getting. But if you adopt it from a shelter or off the street, you could be holding a mixed bag of traits with no specific breed to point to. Even if your cat is purebred, identifying its breed can be tricky, as no two cats are ever identical. Luckily, you’ve found this identification guide, which will help you to determine what breed of kitty you have without the need for genetic testing!

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What Breed Is My Cat? How to Determine Your Cat’s Breed

In truth, there are far too many breeds for us to list every trait of each one. This article would be outrageously long if we tried, and you’d never make it to the end! Instead, we’re going to help you identify specific traits about your cat that you can use to create a specific search query you can use on the internet to discover your cat’s breed. It might look something like this:

Example Search: Cat breed + calm + large + short fur + tan + colored points

The search results you get back may not be definitive, but using such a specific search query will narrow down the options to just the breeds that make the most sense. And if your cat is a mixed breed, then this might be as close as you can get to determining its breed since it’s a combination of several breeds.

Clues About Your Cat’s Breed

When you are wondering “what breed is my cat?” and you don’t know what breed your cat is, you need to use certain clues to try and figure it out. Many clues can help to point you in the right direction becacuse each breed has specific traits that help to define it. If you can identify what breeds display the traits that your at exhibits, then you should be able to narrow it down to just one or a few possible breeds that your cat might be. We’ve added some helpful information below as our cat breed identifier to help you determine your cat’s breed.

 

We will take a closer look at each of these characteristics so that you can use them to help identify your cat’s breed and help you answer your question, what type of cat do I have?

Mixed Breed Cats vs Purebreds

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Image Credit: Left: Pixabay / Right: Pixabay

If you’re wondering how to tell what breed your cat is, one important thing to keep in mind is the difference between purebred and mixed breed cats. Purebred cats will be much easier to identify as each breed has specific characteristics that help define it. If you can figure out what breed shares all of the traits your cat displays, you’ll know what breed it is.

On the other hand, mixed-breed cats are an amalgamation. There are no breed standards you can use to accurately identify what breed they are. Instead, you’ll be attempting to narrow things down to several breeds that likely contributed to your cat’s makeup. Naturally, this is far more difficult than just figuring out one breed that matches the most characteristics of your cat. It’s not impossible, but your best hope is to come up with an educated guess as to the breeds that make up your cat using the identifying traits we discuss below.

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Cat Traits to Identify Breed

Take note of the identifying traits your cat displays in each of the following areas. Then, use them to put together a search query into your favorite online search engine. With a little luck, the results you get will inform you about your cat’s lineage.

Size and Weight

Cats come in a variety of sizes, ranging from tiny dwarf cats that might weigh just four pounds, up to giants like the Maine Coon that can often weigh more than 25 pounds. The size and weight of your cat can tell you a lot about its breed, as each breed is classified by its size.

Large Cats

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Image credit: Astrid Gast, Shutterstock

Cats that weigh over 15 pounds can generally be classified as large cats. They can weigh far more, but some large cats are actually as light as 12 pounds, making them easy to confuse with medium-sized cats. Some rare specimens can even weigh more than 30 pounds!

These cats aren’t just heavy; they’re also very long and tall. Large cats will usually stand more than 8 inches tall and can easily reach heights of 16 inches. They’re also quite long, ranging from about 30 inches at the shorter end of the scale to 48 inches at record-holding size. If your cat meets these requirements, you can consider it a large cat.

There aren’t a whole lot of breeds that reach this size, so if your cat is this large, identifying it shouldn’t be too difficult. Some of the most common large breed cats include:

Medium-Sized Cats

Siamese
Image Credit: Iakov Filimonov, Shutterstock

Most cat breeds fall into the medium-sized category. This is a large group of cats, so if your cat is medium-sized, its size won’t help a whole lot with breed identification, though it can still be a contributing factor when you determine some of your cat’s other traits.

Cats that fall into this classification most often weigh between 9-15 pounds. If your cat is heavier it’s probably a large cat, and if it’s lighter, then it’s most likely a dwarf cat.

Small or Dwarf Cats

munchkin cat
Image Credit: Dasha Parfenova, Shutterstock

If your cat is lighter than 9 pounds and very small but it’s fully grown, then you likely have a dwarf cat. Luckily, small cats like this are rather easy to identify as there aren’t many dwarf cat breeds. Of these small cats, Munchkins are the most well-known, and many other dwarf breeds share Munchkin genetics.

Some of the more common small cat breeds include:
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Face Shape

Not all cats will have faces that are shaped in a way that makes their breed easy to identify. However, cats that display certain face shapes can be narrowed down into very tight categories that will make them easier to associate with a particular breed.

Flat-Faced Cats

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Image Credit: Dorottya Mathe, Shutterstock

Certain cat breeds have flat faces that look almost as if they were smashed in from the front. These breeds are known as brachycephalic breeds, and they have shorter skulls than is typical of other cat breeds. In some breeds, such as Persians, this trait is considered desirable and it sets the breed apart from others.

Unfortunately, there are some downsides to brachycephalic breeds. They’re susceptible to a myriad of health problems due to their unique bone structure. Some of the more common problems facing brachycephalic breeds include:

  • Birthing complications
  • Vision problems
  • Dental health problems
  • Respiratory infections
  • Breathing difficulty

Thankfully, there aren’t many breeds with flat faces, so if your cat is clearly brachycephalic, it should be quite easy to identify its breed. The most common flat-faced cat breeds are:

Narrow-Faced Cats

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Image Credit By: Dorottya Mathe, Shutterstock

Almost the opposite of flat-faced cats are narrow-faced felines that have triangular faces. There are even fewer narrow-faced cat breeds than flat-faced ones. The most popular of these cats is the Siamese, though there are other breeds which include:

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Ears

The shape of your cat’s ears can be a dead giveaway to its genetic makeup if it displays certain traits. For instance, only a few breeds have folded or curled ears, making them easy to identify. These ear shapes are often caused by genetic mutations, though they’ve become the defining characteristic of many breeds that display them.

Curled Ears

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Image Credit: Vasiliy Khimenko, Shutterstock

Curled ears are shaped like an arch. They curl backward, sticking up high, almost like a set of small horns. Only a few breeds display curled ears, including the following:

Folded Ears

scottish fold
Image Credit: Alexander Sobol, Shutterstock

Cats with folded ears are often lumped together with curled-ear cats, though they’re quite different. One major difference is that curled-ear cats are generally healthy. However, cats with folded ears have them as the result of a genetic mutation that can also cause some health issues, including deformities, arthritis, deafness, infections, and more. This is because the gene that causes their ears to fold affects the cartilage throughout their bodies. Scottish Folds are the only breed to display this trait, so if your cat has folded ears, it has some Scottish Fold in its genetic makeup.

Tufted Ears, Lynx Tips, or Ear Furnishings

siberian
Image Credit: Alexander Sobol, Shutterstock

Ear tufts, also known as lynx tips, are the tufts of fur growing from the tips of a cat’s ears. These ear tufts help to keep debris out of the ear while directing sound in. Ear furnishings are similar; they’re the hairs that grow inside a cat’s ears. Quite a few cat breeds display these ear adornments, and if your cat has them, it can help narrow down its breed to one of the following.

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Eyes

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Photo credit: didissss by Pixabay

Cats can display a wide range of eye colors. Common eye colors for cats include:

  • Brown
  • Hazel
  • Gold
  • Green
  • Blue

If both of your cat’s eyes are the same color, then it might not tell you a lot about your cat’s breed. However, some cats have eyes that are different colors. Known as heterochromia, cats with this odd-eyed condition are a genetic anomaly, and only a few breeds can display it. They are:

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Coat

Your cat’s coat can offer another clue as to its breed. Cats can have many different coat types, including long hair, short hair, no hair, and curly hair. Many breeds are known for having a specific type of coat, with some breeds even being named after their coats. In some cases, determining the type of coat your cat has can make it much easier to identify its breed.

Longhaired Cats

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Longhaired cats have long, fluffy coats that can make them appear much larger than they actually are. These breeds have thick fur and shed quite a bit. Some breeds with long hair are:

Shorthaired Cats

british shorthair
Image Credit: Rebekka D, Pixabay

The opposite of longhaired cats, shorthaired cats have short fur that stays close to their bodies. They need far less grooming than longhaired cats and their coats are easier to maintain. These are some of the most common shorthaired breeds:

Curly-Haired Cats

la perm
Image Credit: Linn Currie, Shutterstock

As you might expect, curly-haired cats have curly coats. They’re a bit harder to maintain than straight coats as they tend to tangle more. Cats can have curly hair that’s also long or short, so your curly-haired cat could be classified as a shorthair or longhaired cat as well. Some well-known curly-haired breeds are:

Hairless Cats

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Image Credit: Igor Lukin, Pixabay

Hairless cats have a very unique look and they’re easy to identify as hairless since they lack the fur coats that other cats wear. A famous example would be Mr. Bigglesworth, Dr. Evil’s hairless pet cat from the Austin Powers movies. These cats are popular with people who suffer from cat allergies because of their bald bodies. There aren’t too many hairless breeds, so if your cat is hairless, it’s likely one of the following:

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Colors, Patterns, and Markings

While your cat’s color isn’t going to offer an immediate answer as to its breed, certain colors, patterns, and markings are specific to certain breeds, adding one more clue to the list of evidence you can use to determine what breed your cat is.

Solid Color

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Image Credit: Nynke van Holten, Shutterstock

Cats that display just one color are solid-colored cats. They can be many colors, including black, white, brown, red, and more.

Bi-Color

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Image Credit By: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

Bi-colored cats display two colors on their bodies. Also known as piebald, these cats have one main base color; the second color is white, which can take up most of the cat’s coat or only a small patch. Many cats can have bi-colored coats, such as:

Tortoiseshell

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Image Credit: Nui Rattapon, Shutterstock

Tortoiseshell cats are similar to bi-colored cats but they have no white in their coats. Instead, they have a base color and any secondary color that can appear as patches mixed into the base color. The most common tortoiseshell colors are red and black, though many other colors display themselves in tortoiseshell patterns like blue, chocolate, orange, yellow, and cream. Purebred cats and mixed breeds alike can exhibit tortoiseshell patterns.

Calico

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Calico cats are rather rare, with only one in 1,000 cats being calico. These cats have tri-colored coats. One of the colors is white; the other two colors can be anything. Almost all calico cats are females. Only one in 3,000 calico cats is born male, and most of these are sterile. Not all breeds can produce calico patterns. The ones that can are:

Points

seal point siamese
Image Credit: slowmotiongli, Shutterstock

You may have heard of a cat as having colored points. This means that its face, feet, ears, and tail display dark coloration that’s in contrast to the color displayed on the rest of its coat. The points can come in just about any color, and so can the base coat color. Not every breed can display colored points, but the following can:

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Tail

Most cats have pretty standard tails that won’t offer you too much insight into the cat’s genetics. That said, there is a particular type of tail that can be a big clue to help you determine your cat’s breed: short tails. Only a few breeds display short tails, and many of them are named after this feature since it’s so uncommon. These tails often look like they’re cropped, but they’re naturally occurring. Breeds with short tails are:

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Image: Oleksandr Volchanskyi, Shutterstock

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Behavior

While it’s true that each cat is an individual and will have its own unique personality, some behavioral traits and temperaments are typical to certain breeds. If your cat displays certain personality traits, it could help to point to a particular breed in their blood.

Smart Cat Breeds

persian cat
Image Credit: CKYN stock photo, Shutterstock

Most people consider cats to be rather intelligent creatures. Some breeds are notably smarter than others though. These are the breeds known for displaying above-average levels of intelligence:

Noisy Cat Breeds

oriental
Image Credit: Irina Nedikova, Shutterstock

A lot of cats are quiet, reserved creatures. On the other hand, some cats are extremely vocal and love to purr, sing, or chat with their owners. Since it’s a trait only common to a few breeds, vocal cats tend to be one of the following:

Calm and Docile Cat Breeds

ragdoll
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

Natural predators, many cats are on the go all the time. These cats have plenty of energy and love to play, hunt, chase, climb, and generally just expend their energy in a variety of ways. Less common are the cats that are usually quiet, reserved, and docile. These cats are easier to identify though. A few of the calmer cat breeds are:

Friendly Cat Breeds

ragamuffin
Image Credit: Laralou Photography, Shutterstock

Cats have a reputation for being a bit standoffish and stuck up. But some cats are quite the opposite; friendly and inviting creatures that will come up to anyone to get a nice rub down. Some of the friendly cat breeds include:

Independent Cat Breeds

singapura
Image Credit: COULANGES, Shutterstock

Some cats only want your attention when they decide they want it, and when that time comes, they’re pretty adamant – it’s not a request. These bossy, independent felines believe themselves to be lord of the manor, in charge of all they see. Some breeds commonly like this are:

Cat Breeds that Like Water

bengal
Image Credit: Elena Borisova, Pixabay

It’s a well-known fact that most cats abhor water. They’ll do anything they can to stay away from it. But the truth is, this trait isn’t common to all cats. Most cats definitely don’t like water, but the following breeds tend to be attracted to it!

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What Breed is Your Cat?

Determining what breed a cat of unknown origin is can be a very difficult task. Using the criteria we’ve outlined, you have three methods that you can follow to, hopefully, uncover your cat’s breed.

As mentioned in the beginning, you can use the traits your cat exhibits as a search query online. Just make a list of the traits we’ve covered that your cat displays and type all of them into your computer’s search bar.

Alternatively, you can try to use the breed lists we’ve included with each trait discussed. If there’s one particular breed that’s on the list for every trait your cat displays, then there’s a high likelihood that your cat belongs to that breed.

The third method of determining your cat’s breed is superior to either of the other methods, though it’s more time-consuming and expensive as well. This method is genetic testing.

Genetic Testing to Tell Your Cat’s Breed

Even if you follow all of the guidelines we’ve laid out, you can’t be 100% sure of your cat’s breed without genetic testing. Genetic testing will dive into your cat’s DNA to determine their genetic makeup, giving you an accurate answer as to what breed or breeds makeup your cat.

This is especially useful for mixed-breed cats. You can often identify a purebred cat’s breed by its traits. But mixed-breed cats can show traits from several breeds, making their lineage much harder to pinpoint. Genetic testing can get around that quite easily though.

If you’re interested in learning more about genetic testing, your veterinarian should be able to help you. An added benefit to genetic testing is that it will tell you a lot more about your cat than just its breed. You should learn a lot about your cat’s health as well, including any potential health concerns that might arise down the line and warrant extra precautions being taken in the meantime.

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Conclusion: What Type of Cat Do I Have?

With more than 70 officially documented cat breeds, trying to guess what breed a cat is can be quite difficult. Using the traits and characteristics we’ve covered in this article can give you some great clues and simplify the process. Cats of just one breed can often be identified in this manner. Mixed-breed cats will be harder though, as they can display the traits of several breeds. Do your best to use what you’ve learned here to figure out what breed your cat is. But if you can’t quite put your finger on it, then you can always take your cat to the vet for genetic testing, which will give you a far more accurate answer than you could determine on your own.

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