Monday, July 1, 2013

What is the Oldest Domestic Cat Breed? | 8 Ancient Cat Breeds

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Have you ever wondered what the oldest cat breed is? I asked myself this question recently and during my search for an answer I found a few contenders for the title of oldest domestic cat breed. Mostly, it is unknown for sure which cat breed is the oldest and there is a lot of speculation on the topic.

However, I did learn a lot about several different cat breeds that have been around for a very long time. Some of them even thousands of years. All of which have interesting backgrounds and histories. Here is a list of some of the oldest domestic cat breeds known to man.

Angora Cats

Turkish Angora. Photo via Nickolas Titkov
This cat breed is also popularly known as the Turkish Angora. The Angora cat is documented as early as the 1600s but long haired cats were also present in Europe during the 1400s. Some believe that the gene for white fur came from Angora cats as well as the gene for long hair. Although, I've noticed there seems to be a lot of debate about where long-haired domestic cats come from exactly. 

The Turkish Angora was bred with Persians for several centuries, mostly to improve the coat of the Persian cat. Again, there is a lot of confusing debate about the inter-breeding of Angoras and Persians. 

Persian Cats

Like the Turkish Angora cat, the Persian cat has long fur. Now, like I mentioned above there are some that believe the Angora cat was the first to carry the gene for long fur. This means the Persian may not be quite as old as the Angora. Again, there's lots of debate as to where long fur came from but it was quite a treasure among cat fanciers back in the day. 

They originated from Persia, which is now known as Iran. Long haired cats were first seen in Europe during the 1400s, but it's hard to say what exact breed these long haired cats were. They were almost certainly the ancestors of modern day Persian cats. 

Persian Cat. Photo via Leonard Paguia

Siamese Cats

Siamese cats originated from Thailand, formerly known as Siam. They were first documented in a book that has been estimated to have been written between the 1350 and 1767.  The book describes this ancient cat breed as "pointed cats" with pictures that look very similar to today's modern Siamese cat. 

Siamese cats. Photo via Jerry Pank

Korat

Korats are also an ancient cat breed from Thailand. They were documented in the same book as the Siamese cats. This means that their first appearance in human writing dates back to the same time as the Siamese cat - sometime between 1350 and 1767. That's not to say that they are not older than that, however. Korats are thought as good luck charms. 

Korat. Photo via Szep Bernadette

Siberian Forest Cat

This cat breed is more commonly known as the Siberian cat. It's a centuries old cat breed from Russia. There are claims that the Siberian is the ancestor to all modern long-haired cats. Again with the controversy on where long haired cats actually came from. The Siberian is probably very closely related to the Norwegian Forest Cat. It was one of the only 3 long haired cat breeds documented during the first cat show in Enlgand during the 1700's. 

Siberian Cat. Photo via K Kendall

Norwegian Forest Cat

I really like the ancestry of this breed of cat. The Norwegian Forest Cat is native to Europe. It's thought that Vikings traveled with some cats on their ships and brought them to Europe around 1000 AD. The cats adapted to their new environment by growing long, waterproof fur. 

Norwegian Forest Cat. Photo via Moyan Brenn

Abyssinian 

Out of all the ancient cat breeds out there, this one seems to have a lot of speculation about its ancestry. Some say that the Abyssinian is a cat breed from ancient Egyptian times because it looks similar to artifacts from that time period. Of course, the modern Abyssinian is much different than its ancestors. The ones we see today were bred with Burmese, Russian Blue, and Siamese cats. 

Abyssinian. Photo via Matt

Egyptian Mau

I personally believe that this cat may be the winner for the oldest domestic cat breed. They are one of the few naturally spotted breeds of cat. Apparently, the way an Egyptian Mau looks is relatively the same as it was 3,000 years ago. There is artwork depicting cats that look the same as the modern day Egyptian Mau dating back thousands of years ago. 

I find it interesting that this breed of cat was used in ancient times to assist hunters. I've heard of hunting dogs, but never really a hunting cat. They have "bird-like" voices and it is easy for them to tell the hunter that there is prey nearby without scaring it away. 

Egyptian Mau. Photo via Nickolas Titkov

It seems as though we may never know what the oldest domestic cat breed is going by all the speculation from cat fanciers and breed enthusiasts. One thing we know for sure is that all of the ancient cat breeds mentioned above are pretty darn old! Some as many as thousands of centuries old and all have a unique history and story to tell. 

32 comments:

  1. We have never heard of some of those breeds. How interesting. Have a marvellous Monday Ann.
    Best wishes Molly

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  2. This is fantastic! Loved reading about these breeds. Great article!

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    1. Thank you Sue - glad you enjoyed :)

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  3. I hadn't known about some of these breeds either! Thanks for sharing!

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  4. I never heard about Korats - how beautiful they are! Thanks for such an interesting post. I like it !!!

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    1. I really like the Korats too. Of course, I am partial to gray kitties.

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  5. Very interesting. I admit I don't know much about cat breeds as my experience has been mainly with DSH. Have a great day!

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    1. Same here guys. I've met a couple of purebred cats here and there though.

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  6. Wow so much information! I love the Abyssinian cat. I always wanted one, but I already have three, and I can't adopt anymore!!!

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  7. eye all wayz new dai$y wuz older N dirt...now heerz proof...thanx shiner....

    uh oh...speekin oh de devil...eye think herz comin after me.....gotta ruuuuuun !!!

    boomer =^..^=

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  8. Great post I'd never heard of the Korat so did some researching and came across another breed you might be interested in and one I'd never heard of before a Maine Coot link here http://uk.search.yahoo.com/r/_ylt=A0geu8SwsdFRkzwAiktLBQx.;_ylu=X3oDMTE1NnM3OGlzBHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDNwRjb2xvA2FjMgR2dGlkA01TWVVLMDNfNzY-/SIG=12cnpetuh/EXP=1372725808/**http%3a//cattraining1.hubpages.com/hub/Domestic-Cat-Breeds

    I thought it was a typo and should of read Maine Coon but they look totaly different.

    Sheba.

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    1. Hi Anne after trying to find out more info it looks like it could of been a typo.

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    2. That would have been crazy if there was a Maine Coot! Definitely something I hadn't heard of before.

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  9. Egyptian Mau's were also Temple cat and were thought to be the the imbodiment of Bastet or Bast the cat goddes too!xx Rachel

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    1. Ooo I didn't know that - thanks Rachel!

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  10. Ancient cats immediately brought to my mind the ancient Egyptian drawings of cats that you often see. I think the Abyssinian or the Mau both look like those cats. They are all beautiful cats, and I hadn't heard of at least half of them either!

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    1. Same here Jan. Thanks for reading and glad you enjoyed :)

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  11. Great article! Such beautiful cats :)

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  12. They are all beautious! We are very partial to Rescue Breed!

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  13. Egyptian Mau is mums favorite type of kitty, just because she used to love the old 'cat woman' film!!!
    Thankyou for all the wonderful information Ann!!!
    Love Milo :)

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  14. We hadn't heard of most of them, what beautiful kitties :) xx00xx

    Mollie and Alfie

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  15. This is a great and informative read, Ann. I love it.
    I really love to have one of those cats, especially the Siberian one...but they are too expensive

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  16. My cousin BB is a Norwegian Forest Cat who came from a shelter. Didn't I read that Korat cats saved their country or something that made them heros.

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    1. I think I vaguely remember reading something like that. Maybe I should look it up, it sounds pretty interesting :)

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  17. Have only heard of 2 or 3 of those, thanks for sharing!

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  18. Love Persians. We had one growing up. I am sure it was a mix, but it looked so Persian.

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  19. Thanks for the great post. We know so much about all the different dog breeds, but most folks don't ever see many of the specific cat breeds. I have been to several cat shows where different breeds were represented, and must say that they can have variety just like different breeds of dogs! I have had a Himalayan and Siamese cat before, but none of the other breeds. My kitties now are all adopted/rescued Domestic Shorthairs.

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    1. I've only ever had domestic shorthair cats myself. I am still learning about all the different types of cats out there. About 5 years ago, I don't think I knew much of anything about different cat breeds!

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  20. XD so adorable!

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