Always dominated by the harmony and balance of shapes, by the impression of suppleness emanating from his body, the appearance of this small domestic feline–the cat –offers a wide panorama reinforced by the genetic diversity of the species. Breeds and colors combine for the greatest pleasure of cat lovers.
Some sixty feline breeds are recognized by the different federations. The standards of these breeds describe the history, physical outlook and character of each. Small or large, slender or massive, the morphology of the cat falls within the three following types from which all intermediate stages are possible.
A quite general but often observed trend emerges: the more longilineal a cat is, the more active he is. The bigger and more massive he is, the calmer and more composed he is. Naturally, this is but a trend, mitigated by all individual variations.
Active cats: they have a tubular body, a long head and large ears pricked up towards anything that moves. Under their so-called "oriental" morphology and their lean muscles like those of greyhounds, a fiery disposition is hiding. The Siamese, Balinese, Orientals, Mandarin, Cornish Rex are cats that are very cuddly, very talkative, very much attached to their owner. Among these active cats that hate feeling lonely, one shall also add the Sphynx, the Bengalese, the Abyssinean.
Moderate cats with a sturdy disposition: they have an athletic body and powerful muscles. Balance and moderation are their strength. Endowed with a steady and pleasant disposition, they are always present without being encroaching. Such are the Chartreux, European, Burmese, Egyptian Mau and wavy-haired Devon Rex cats.
Powerful and gentle cats: they are strong and they are large. As if they were aware of their importance, their strength is only equaled by their gentleness. They may be all roundness, like the British or the Exotic Shorthair, giants like the Maine Coon, the Norwegian, the Siberian and the Ragdoll. Some may be endowed with a long coat requiring daily maintenance like the Persian, or biweekly maintenance like the Burmese Sacred. These strong and quiet cats love the company of man, without for that matter being cuddly toys.
Although there’s no scientific explanation for this phenomenon, it has often been noted that in breeds where there is a shorthaired variety and a longhaired variety, the longhaired individuals are calmer than the shorthaired ones. The best illustration of this is provided by the Persian and the Exotic Shorthair, who is simply a shorthaired Persian.