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As you may have guessed from his name (pronounced lee-wah), this cat is native to China. He sports a short brown mackerel tabby coat and usually weighs a solid 8.5 to 11 pounds or more. This is a smart cat who typically forms a strong attachment to people.
A Li Hua stars in a television series produced in China.
attractive cat has a wide, diamond-shaped head and large, almond-shaped eyes of
green (preferred), yellow or brown. He’s sturdy with a strong body, big paws and muscular tail. A
tiny black spot on the corner of the mouth extends the line of the mouth,
giving the impression that the cat is smiling.
Hua has a reputation as an excellent ratter — an important job for Chinese cats
— and this ability is even called out in the breed standard, which says “No rat
can escape its sharp claw, agile body and strong neck.”
breed’s purported agility is also described in the breed standard: “The Li Hua should be
able to jump in the air and turn around twice before landing.” Get that cat a
spot on an Olympic gymnastics team!
The Li Hua is typically a people-loving cat with
a great disposition. He can be a gentle and devoted companion to adults and
respectful children alike.
We usually think of cats as having been domesticated in Egypt, but a recent archaeological discovery may place their domesticated beginnings in a surprisingly different place: China. According to a report in the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a
study of cats living 5,300 years ago in the Chinese village of Quanhucun provides the earliest known evidence of a commensal relationship between cats and people, meaning they lived together compatibly.
These early cats may have been the ancestors of the Li Hua. The
cats are found throughout China and have been mentioned in old books and other written documents. Their job was to catch rats and protect crops and grain. The Li Hua is a natural breed, not the result of hybridization between two or more breeds.
Although its origins may be ancient, the Li Hua as a pedigreed cat is relatively young. It was first exhibited as an experimental breed at a
Cat Aficionado Association show in Beijing in 2003.
The Cat Fanciers’ Association officially recognized it in February 2010, and it was shown in the miscellaneous class. Unfortunately, the breed did not cat-ch on, and the CFA no longer accepts the breed for championship status.
Lively and brisk, the Li Hua has a reputation for being intelligent and friendly. He generally has a gentle disposition and acts as a family caretaker, not only of people but also other cats. He even tends to get along with
dogs when introduced politely.
How smart is the Li Hua? Chinese lore claims that one owner, Zhao Shangzai, trained his Li Hua to fetch the daily paper. The Li Hua is said to have a good memory and an analytical nature. In other words, he can figure things out, so you may have to work to stay a step ahead of him.
Like most cats, the Li Hua will appreciate having an
enclosed outdoor area where he can climb or lie out in the sun, but he shouldn’t be allowed to roam.
All cats have
the potential to develop a health problem, but currently no known breed-related
diseases affect the Li Hua. Nonetheless, it’s a good idea to seek out a breeder
who offers a health guarantee on kittens and who raises them in the home so
they are well socialized and protected from diseases that could be picked up
from free-roaming cats.
Remember that after you take a new kitten
into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common
feline health problems: obesity. Keeping a Li Hua at an appropriate weight is
one of the easier ways to protect his overall health.
The Li Hua
has a short coat with no thick undercoat. Brush it weekly to keep the coat
shiny, remove dead hairs and help prevent hairballs.
The only other grooming the Li Hua requires is
regular nail trimming and ear cleaning. Brush his teeth often with a
vet-approved pet toothpaste and schedule veterinary dental cleanings as needed.
Start brushing, nail trimming and teeth brushing early, so your kitten learns to accept these
Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your cat from a shelter or
rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.
things first: This cat is extremely rare in the United States. Don’t count on
being able to acquire one without a long wait. You may even have to import one
from China. If you are bringing a cat or kitten back from
China, he will need to have an International Health Certificate from a
veterinarian stating that he is healthy and in good condition to be transported
by air. This form is not required for entry
into the U.S. but may be required by the airline or by
certain states. The cat may also need a valid rabies vaccination certificate
unless he is from an area that is considered to be free of rabies, is
younger than 4 months or is traveling to a state
that does not require the vaccination. The vaccine should
be given at least 30 days before departure. With the exception of Hawaii and Guam, there
is no quarantine for pets arriving
in the U.S. from overseas. You may be required to fill
out a form or present your paperwork at customs before departing with your cat.
Your cat may also be inspected on entry and can be refused if he shows signs of
disease or other
You want your Li Hua to be happy and
healthy so you can enjoy your time with him, so do your homework before you
bring him home.
Put at least as much effort into
researching your kitten as you would into choosing a new car or expensive
appliance. It will save you money and frustration in the long run.
A reputable breeder will abide by a
code of ethics that prohibits sales to pet stores and wholesalers and outlines
the breeder’s responsibilities to their cats and to buyers. Choose a breeder
who has performed the health certifications necessary to screen out genetic
health problems to the extent that is possible, as well as one who raises
kittens in her home. Kittens who are isolated can become fearful and skittish
and may be difficult to socialize later in life.
Many reputable breeders have
websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include
kittens always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your
choice of any kitten and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those
things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable
Whether you’re planning to get your
feline friend from a breeder, a pet store or another source, don’t forget the
adage “let the buyer beware.” Disreputable breeders and unhealthy catteries can
be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way
to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick kitten, but researching the breed (so
you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy
conditions or sick animals) and asking the right questions can reduce the
chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your
veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue
organization or other reliable source for healthy kittens.
Be patient. Depending on what you
are looking for, you may have to wait six months or more for the right kitten
to become available. Many breeders won't release kittens to new homes until
they are between 12 and 16 weeks of age.
Before you buy a kitten, consider
whether an adult Li Hua might be a better choice for your lifestyle. Kittens
are loads of fun, but they’re also a lot of work and can be destructive until
they reach a somewhat more sedate adulthood. With an adult, you know more about
what you’re getting in terms of personality and health. If you are interested
in acquiring an adult cat instead of a kitten, ask breeders about purchasing a
retired show or breeding cat or if they know of an adult cat who needs a new
The Li Hua is not your everyday
shelter cat, but sometimes a pedigreed cat ends up at a shelter or in a foster
home after losing his home to an owner’s death, divorce or change in economic
Here are some tips to help you find
and adopt the right cat from a rescue group or shelter.
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder and AdoptAPet.com can have you searching for a Li Hua
in your area in no time. The site allows you to be very specific in your
requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Li Hua
available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter.org can help you find animal rescue groups in your area.
media is another great way to find a cat. Post on your Facebook page or Twitter
feed that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community
can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with pet pros in your
area about your desire for a Li Hua. That includes vets, cat sitters and
groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a cat, that
person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Breed Rescue
Networking can help you find a cat
that may be the perfect companion for your family. Most people who love Li Hua
love all Li Hua. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to
taking care of homeless cats. You can also search online for Li Hua rescues in
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss
with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or
rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a cat. These include:
Wherever you acquire your Li Hua,
make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group
that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopter’s Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a cat from a shelter. In states with pet lemon laws,
be sure you and the person you get the cat from both understand your rights and
Kitten or adult, take your Li Hua to your
veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot
problems and work with you to set up a preventive regimen that can help you
avoid many health issues.
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