Surprising Facts About Pedigreed Cats

The Turkish Angora and the Turkish Van are both longhaired cats originating in Turkey, one of the birthplaces of domestic cats. They are both known for an affinity for water and swimming. An old legend claims that the pair of Turkish Vans cruising with Noah jumped off the ark when it reached Mount Ararat in Turkey and swam ashore. When they reached dry land, they headed for Lake Van, from which they take their name.

The American Wirehair was developed from a kitten born with a dominant gene for a wiry coat. American Wirehairs have crimped, hooked or bent hairs that form ringlets and are coarse to the touch, sort of like steel wool. Surprisingly, though, the coat is fragile and needs special care.

Encouraging Genetic Mutations

Many pedigreed cats are the result of a natural mutation that was then molded by people. Some cats such as the Cornish Rex and Devon Rex have genetic mutations that cause them to have curly coats. The curls are the result of a recessive gene.

Other examples of cat breeds that developed from spontaneous natural mutations are the Scottish Fold, whose distinctive ears fold forward, giving him an uncanny resemblance to an owl, and the American Curl, whose ears curve back in a 90- to 180-degree arc.

Often, these “mutant” cats have been bred with other breeds, called outcrossing, to help ensure genetic diversity. For instance, the American Curl and the American Wirehair were outcrossed to domestic shorthairs, and the Cornish Rex was outcrossed to Siamese, Havana Browns, American Shorthairs and domestic shorthairs (non-pedigreed cats). That not only improved their gene pool but also increased the number of colors and patterns found in the breed.

Certain colors and patterns are also the result of genetic mutations. The ticked tabby coloration of the Abyssinian probably developed in the coastal area off the Indian Ocean. High concentrations of cats with this gene are found in Calcutta, India, and the island of Ceylon. Another ticked cat that carries the same gene is the Singapura, from Singapore, noted for being the smallest cat breed. A mutation that occurred somewhere in the Far East created what’s known as the albino series of alleles. It brought us the Siamese, Burmese and Tonkinese breeds.

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