If you live in the United States and are looking for a pedigree cat, then you can't avoid coming across the acronym CFA, in full Cat Fanciers' Association.
The CFA was founded in 1906 with the intention of maintaining the integrity of cat breeds and holds the largest register of pedigree cats in the world. The association also organises cat shows, provides judges and indeed runs training programs for show judges as well as continuing the registration of purebred kitten litters.
The CFA currently recognises thirty nine breeds of cat for showing in the Championship Class and one in the Miscellaneous Class, the Ragamuffin. The Provisional Class is for breeds which have not yet been accepted for Championship Class and neutered males and spayed females may be shown in the Premiership Class. There are also show classes for pedigree kittens and household pets. Those in the Household Pet Class can be of any origin, colour, length of coat, etc. but must be neutered or spayed if over eight months old and must not have been declawed. Interesting colours and markings and a friendly personality are a must.
For kittens to retain the pedigree of their sire and dam the litter must be registered with the CFA by their breeder. When kittens become rehomed, their new owner must register them individually. The owner may only register a cat for breeding only if the breeder provides the appropriate pin number for use on the registration form, otherwise the cat's offspring, if any, may not be registered as purebred.
There are other associations around the world for the registration of pedigree cats. In Canada the Canadian Cat Association formed in 1960, in the United Kingdom the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF), established in 1910 and in Europe, the Fédération Internationale Féline, founded in 1949, based in Luxembourg but representing forty one countries around the globe. These organisations, like the CFA, are dedicated to maintaining breed standards, ensuring the proper care of all cats and organising and staffing cat shows as well as educating judges and the general public alike. The GCCF currently registers approximately 32,000 pedigree cats each year.
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In the USA, Breeds of cats are categorised as either short haired such as the Siamese, the Abyssinian and the British Shorthair while the long haired breeds includ the Persian and Turkish Angoras. In Britain the categorisation is more complex and includes Persian, British, Foreign, Burmese, Oriental and Siamese, while in Europe the categories are Persian and Exotic, Shorthair and Somali, Siamese and Oriental. Both include the semi-long haired e.g. the Turkish Van and the Maine Coon.
Of all the many breeds, the American Shorthair is the most popular in the USA while in Britain, the British Shorthair breed has had the most registrations since the year 2000, having gradually overtaken the Persian whose numbers have dwindled significantly since the late 1980s.
If you want to be sure of certain characteristics in your cat, you need to select a recognised breed and any one of the above organisations have extensive websites full of information which will help you make your choice.