purebred siamese cat being held in air by woman

Purebred Cats 101 – Here’s Your Guide


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Purebred cats (sometimes called pedigree cats) although arguably not as well-represented as purebred dog breeds, can be amazing little additions to your family. Well, so can any cat… but we digress.

Researching purebred cats can suck you into a whiskery wormhole before you even realise it. You can Google just about everything you’d ever need to know about cat breeds before you get anywhere near the “new family member” stage.

It’s super interesting, and you’re sure to fall in love with one of the many different types out there. Just like there are Poodle people and Labrador people, there are Siamese cat people and Maine Coon cat people.

These days you can search different cat breeds by all kinds of characteristics to find out whether they’ll fit your lifestyle, before you commit. For many people this is a major bonus.

As for us, we’re fans of any and all cats, whether purebred or house moggie.

What counts as a purebred cat?

What exactly makes a cat a purebred cat? A purebred cat is one that comes from a family of purebred cats whose looks and temperament match the breed standards. Now you may be wondering what breed standards are, so let’s get onto that next…

purebred cats have breed standards that outline breed traits

Breed standards

Breed standards are a set of guidelines for what each breed looks and behaves like. The breed standards are what set criteria for the physical and temperament traits of a given cat breed. A purebred cat is one that meets the breed standards, so looks and behaves as you’d expect from the guidelines.

Every purebred cat breed and purebred dog breed has breed standards that outline how that breed should look and what aspects of its temperament should conform to.

Each country has a national cat association (or dog association) that keeps a record of the breed standards. Plus these associations are also the best place to find a registered breeder when looking to buy purebred cats (more on that below).

Pedigree cats vs purebred cats, what’s the difference?

It’s worth nothing ‘pedigree’ and ‘purebred’ are actually different, though often used interchangeably. Purebred refers to the cat’s gene pool. On the other hand, pedigree cats have their lineage documented by breeders and logged with the national breeding register.

To sum it up not all purebred cats have a pedigree record. Not everyone wants or needs a pedigree cat, and you might have a purebred Bengal cat who you adore, but doesn’t have pedigreed papers. And, so long as ýou lurrrve each other, that’s all that matters! (That and keeping them healthy with a great cat insurance plan).

mixed breed cats like these kittens can sometimes be healthier than purebred cats

Purebred cats weren’t always purebred

If you go far enough back in the lineage of any purebred cat, you will, at some point find a no-name-cat-breed. Breeders take cats that have similar features and breed them. This is often how a breed starts its story and a breed gains in popularity, more and more breeders start to breed it.

Breeders register to have their new cat breed added to a cat registry and once accepted as a fully fledged breed, hey presto, a new purebred cat breed joins the ranks. Usually the cat breed Find out about the newish breed called the Toyger (named after a toy tiger)!

But that beautiful no-name cat was bred with another cat featuring similar characteristics, to produce kittens who looked and acted like them…. and so on and so forth!

Find pedigree cats via the New Zealand Cat Fancy

Cat breeders must register with a cat breeding association then follow its standards and rules. This helps to keeps the breeding industry regulated.

If you’re planning on buying a purebred cat, your first step should always be to see if the breeder is registered. This helps ensure you won’t be scammed out of money for a cat who either doesn’t exist, or most certainly isn’t a pedigree cat!

If you’re also a dog lover, read up on puppy scams in NZ (the tips will help you source a great cat too) as well as our purebred dog pros and cons and tips for finding ethical dog breeders.

There are lots of cat associations around the world. A quick look on Google will tell you about some of the biggest ones, such as The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) and The International Cat Association (TICA)

To go more local though, the two main associations are New Zealand Cat Fancy and New Zealand Cat Registry. And a couple across the pond in Australia are Australian Cat Federation and Australian National Cats.

bengal cat

Benefits of purebred cats

As mentioned earlier, if you want a cat who’s friendly, smart, has blue eyes, or even one who tends to be talkative, you can find a cat breed that matches your ideal characteristics. Maybe you want a serious cuddle buddy… just research the friendliest cat breeds and go from there.

Plus, you can do a little research on the kind of health or physical issues your favourite cat breed is prone to and select one of our three awesome pet insurance policies with knowledge in hand. For instance, Bengal cats can be susceptible to eye issues like glaucoma.

Further, having a purebred cat means your vet is likely to know a lot about them just from their breed. This makes it easier to plan for their needs in terms of diet, conditions to watch out for, and activity needs.

Is your perfect match less about the looks and more about the personality? Read about some different cat breeds and their personalities.

Drawbacks of purebred cats

While there’s no arguing the benefits we listed above, there are also some drawbacks to purebred cats. Sometimes breeding techniques to achieve specific breed markers rely on inbreeding.

The CFA (the world’s largest registry of pedigreed cats) says “it is perfectly acceptable to breed related cats and register their offspring. Inbreeding is the breeding of closely related cats, such as father to daughter or mother to son.”

Inbreeding, when done correctly, can produce animals with specific traits and characteristics. However, having such a small genetic pool available can also create major problems when it comes to health. It also means purebred cats tend to have shorter lifespans than your everyday house cat.

This is why mixed breed pets are sometimes healthier – read our article ‘are mixed breed dogs healthier than purebred dogs‘ to see why – because it applies to cats too!

Your best bet to reducing your risks is making sure to use a reputable breeder and asking about the health of the parents and siblings before you commit. If you’re getting a purebred cat, please do your research. You’ll want to be familiar with the inherited disorders that they’re more susceptible to. This way you can be better prepared mentally and financially.

And speaking of finances, there’s a larger financial outlay when buying a purebred cat. The same is true of dogs, and horses. Where good lineage is concerned, be prepared to pay for it.

consider adopting purebred cats from rescue organisations

Purebred cats for adoption

Ultimately, no one cat is better than the other. We each have individual preferences and different personalities, and will gel with some cats better than others, no matter their breed.

When you’re thinking of adding a cat to your life, consider adopting from a shelter. It’s not uncommon for shelters to have mixed and purebred cats in need of furever homes. Who knows, maybe the cat of your dreams is waiting for a home. Whichever way you pounce, a few things to consider about adopting a cat are:

  • Adoption fee: Cat shelters charge a small fee, and your cat will usually come home already chipped and sterilised. Plus the money will go back into saving other animals!
  • Adult cats: Most people set out for a pet wanting a kitten or puppy. But adult cats are easily adaptable, and often need homes. Find out about adopting an adult cat.
  • Kittens: Cat shelters often have kittens up for adoption. (Just remember they’re the first to get homes easily, with the older cats pushed to the back of the line!)
  • Purebred cats: Purebred and even pedigree cats end up in shelters when their owners fall on hard times, pass away, or can’t keep them. Purebred cat rescue groups are a good go-to when looking for your furever friend.

If your mum or dad, or you, or someone you know is reaching their golden age and starting to think contingency plans for pets, read our article on senior pet parents.

Purebred cats deserve cat insurance

Whether you end up with a purebred cat or an adopted moggie of totally unknown origin, your cat is sure to bring endless joy into your life. You can bring some into theirs too, thanks to cat insurance that helps cover costs of medical treatment when they need it.

Plus, at the time of writing, we offer one or more months of free pet insurance and no lock-in contract.

101 pet insurance – give it a try! Click below to start today.

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