Whether exotic or plain, short-haired or long-haired, there are some cat breeds you know by heart. Still, do you know how many recognized breeds of cats there are in the world?
This may seem like a simple question, but the answer varies depending on who you ask. There isn’t an official number of recognized cat breeds and it can differ from one cat association to another.
Cat registries are organizations that develop the breed standard and decide if a cat can be registered as pedigreed or not. Each registry has its own rules and this leads to a varying number of recognized breeds.
Since there isn’t a straight answer to “how many recognized breeds of cats are there?”, we will give you five possible options and allow you to pick which one you like best.
What are Cat Registries?
Cat registries are organizations that register purebred cats for exhibition and breeding. They also keep records on the genealogies of purebred cats. Only these organizations can issue formal certificates that verify a cat’s breed and its lineage.
Cat registries also hold cats shows where registered cats are judged based on the breed standard. Titles earned in these shows are recorded in a cat’s papers and can be used to boost its breeding potential.
However, these organizations have their own rules and not all of them recognize the same cat breeds. For example, the Cat Fanciers Association doesn’t recognize the Thai Cat as a distinctive breed, but other larger registries do.
How Many Recognized Breeds of Cats Are There?
Finding out excatly how many recognized breeds of cats are there is somewhat hard. That’s because the international cat registries and other organizations don’t always accept the same breeds as distinct.
Some associations won’t register cats that don’t have their parents’ names and breeds traced back to a certain number of generations. Additionally, some registries include short-hair and long-hair variations under the same name, while others see them as distinct breeds.
Listed below are major cat associations across the world and number of breeds each one of them recognizes.
Cat Fanciers Association (CFA)
The Cat Fanciers Association was founded in 1906 in the United States. It describes itself as the largest registry of pedigreed cats. The CFA is also the most prestigious pedigree cat registering association in North America.
The Cat Fanciers Association currently recognizes 42 cat breeds. These breeds have full recognition and are allowed for showing in Championship Class.
As of the end of April of 2018, the Lykoi and Khao Manee Cats are exhibited in the Miscellaneous Class. This means that these two breeds are starting the process of recognition with the CFA.
So, the number of recognized breeds in this organization can change in the following years. This association has rigorous rules and regulations and won’t register just any new breed.
For example, the Minskin and the Munchkin Cats aren’t recognized due to their unusually short legs that pose some health concerns.
Federation Internationale Feline (FIFe)
The Federation Internationale Feline was founded in 1949 in Paris, France. As a federation of cat registries, there are currently a 42 member organizations in 40 countries that belong to the FIFe.
This association describes itself as a leading international fanciers society with membership covering Europe, Asia, and South America. Currently, FIFe recognizes 48 different cat breeds for Championship competitions. The breeds are divided into four categories.
FIFe has six more recognized breeds than Cat Fanciers Association because FIFe recognizes short and longhaired cat as different breeds.
Hence, the Oriental Shorthair and the Oriental Longhair have separate breed standards in FIFe.
Some breeds are unique for each of these organizations. For excample, FIFe recognizes German Rex, while CFA recognizes Ragamuffin Cat as a distinct breed.
The International Cat Association (TICA)
The International Cat Association is considered to be the world’s largest genetic registry of pedigreed cats. Founded in 1979, TICA was originally a North American association that nowadays has a worldwide presence.
Currently, TICA recognizes 71 cat breeds for Championship status. The large difference in breed number is because TICA, like FIFe, sees short and long-haired cats as separate breeds.
Additionally, the Serengeti Cat, Highlander, and Highlander Shorthair are currently in Advanced New Breed Class. Therefore, they are just a step away from being formally recognized by TICA.
Furthermore, Aphrodite Cat and Minskin Cat are in the Preliminary New Breed Class. It is likely that TICA will have new members in the Championship Class in the near future.
World Cat Federation (WCF)
The World Cat Federation was founded in 1988 in Rio de Janeiro but is currently based in Germany. It is an international association of cat clubs that prides itself working to develop animal protection laws.
Currently, the World Cat Federation recognizes 70 cat breeds. The WCF makes a clear distinction among short and long-haired cats of the same appearance and classifies them as distinct breeds.
Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF)
The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy is a cat registry that was established in 1910 in the United Kingdom. It is the largest organization that registers pedigree cats in the UK. It is also one of the largest national cat associations worldwide.
Additionally, the Khao Manee Cat and the Turkish Angora Cat are breeds with registration only status. However, they will probably be advanced to the Championship Class in the following years.
Will There Be New Cat Breeds in the Future?
Many cat breeders work on the development of new cat breeds every day. Therefore, it is safe to say that there will be new and exotic looking breeds in the future.
However, the organizations listed above have slowed down the recognition process. Due to strict rules and long procedures, it takes a lot of time for a breed to be formally recognized.
The CFA among other associations argues that potential new breeds should have a valid and long term breeding programs. This ensures that the new breed won’t disappear and that genetic diseases aren’t present.
Even though the recognition process has slowed down, there are many breeders and enthusiast that work hard to develop new breeds with selective breeding.
The Ukrainian Levkoy Cat is a good example of a recently developed but still not recognized breed. Overall, there is no doubt that new breeds will emerge and steal the hearts of many cat lovers. The only question to be asked is, will they be officially recognized any time soon.
When one asks “How many recognized cat breeds are there?”, the answer they receive will vary from one cat association to the next.
The International Cat Association recognizes 71 distinctive cat breeds, which makes it the largest cat registry of pedigreed cats.
The Cat Fanciers Association, however, recognizes only 42 cat breeds. This makes it the association with the smallest number of cat breeds. This is mainly because the CFA has strict rules about breeding programs and general health of any new breeds.
Since there isn’t a unanimous decision on how many recognized cat breeds there are, we leave it to you to decide for yourself.