Moggy or Pedigree
Choosing a cat is hard enough, but before you are introduced to your new, pet you need a good idea of what type of cat you would like to own. Will you go for moggy or pedigree?
So you have made half a decision – you are going to have a cat as a pet. The next question is of Hamlet-like proportions; to be a moggy or not to be?
There are plenty of cats in this world and there are plenty to choose from. Once you own and love one type of cat you are more than likely to have little truck with any other type of feline pet.
But, first, what is a moggy?
This is a cat or kitten that does not belong to any recognised breed and amazingly the word, of dialect origin, originally meant pet cow.
And of the 100 million pet cats worldwide the vast majority are non-pedigree or crossbred cats but then as people kept cats in order to keep their houses and barns free of mice and rats, looks and breeding were not a consideration.
However, as every moggy owner knows, a healthy, happy moggy in the prime of its life can be every bit as magnificent in appearance and manner as a pedigree cat.
On the other side of the fence you have the handsome pedigree, governed and controlled in Britain by The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) which was established as an independent body in 1910, formed from the three or four cat clubs who were registering cats at that time.
It now has 146 affiliated cat clubs, licences approximately 125 cat shows and registers an average of 30,000 pedigree cats per year.
On the GCCF website there are 32-types of pedigree listed from Abyssianan, sleek and long-legged, through to a Turkish Van – a very bushy cat first imported from Turkey in the mid 1950s.
The difference between buying a moggy and a pedigree cat is a bit like the difference between buying a trusty old family car, like a Renault Scenic, or going for a sling-back sexy sports car.
If you plan to show your pedigree cat then you must buy one that is correctly bred and registered. But, before you reach that stage, what breed is right for you?
Do you need a lively type of kitten, a show-off and an extrovert? If so, the foreign shorthairs are more likely to suit your needs but if you fancy the quieter longhairs, the question you need to answer is, have you the time and patience needed to groom one? This must be done on a regular basis from the day you bring home a longhaired kitten.
The best place to start understanding the various breeds out there is a cat show. And for many owners of pedigree cats, putting their pets on show is a lot of what owning the cat is about.
The very first “official” cat show was held at the Crystal Palace in London on July 13 1871, the first show manager was Harrison Weir the well known artist and writer. The show was held on a Thursday not the familiar Saturday we know today. There were 25 classes for Eastern and other Foreign breeds as well as native British varieties.
The first shows to be held by any of the present day clubs was held by The National Cat Club in 1887 followed by The Scottish Cat Club in 1894. Shows had to be abandoned during the years of the First and Second World Wars so the National Cat Club’s Centenary Show was held in December 1996.
When The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy was founded by the Cat Clubs in 1910 there were 16 cat clubs represented, including one – Wilson’s Ltd. Cat Club – which seems to have been something of a business venture; not surprisingly it does not appear to have survived for very long.
The first GCCF Stud Book lists winners from shows held from 1910 to 1912.
The Longhairs appeared in black, white, blue, red or orange, cream, smoke, silver tabby, brown tabby, red tabby, Chinchillas, tortoiseshell and tortie and white. The British Shorthairs were represented by most of the same colours and patterns except red, smoke, Chinchilla and tortoiseshell. The other breeds were Abyssinians, Siamese and Manx. Today the number of breeds and colours have increased tremendously.
Conditions at cat shows have improved over the years, the cats are no longer penned on straw, the judges and stewards all wear white coats and hygiene is very much more evident. Judges now use trolleys on which to place the cats for judging and these can be wheeled from pen to pen but 30 years ago the stewards had to struggle with a card table moving it from pen to pen for the judge – this needed real stamina!
In 1976 a new Cat Show, the Supreme Cat Show was added to the calendar and it is organised by the GCCF. All the cats had to qualify by winning open classes at other Championship Shows. Today the Supreme has developed into a large and prestigious show and is held at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham each November.
A new method of judging was introduced – Ring Judging – all the cats are taken from their brilliantly decorated pens to the judging rings where the judges sit facing the public to judge the cats and often give a commentary on their judging. This show produces the country’s top prize winners, the Supreme title holders.
Once you have decided on your choice of breed contact the club which caters for that breed, or your local cat club, and ask if they have a kitten list or details of breeders. (The GCCF can put you in contact with club secretaries). You may find what you want in your area, but you may have to wait and/or be prepared to travel some distance to meet your exact requirements.
Telephone some breeders and get an idea of the price. Kittens should be sold with at least an enteritis inoculation and a full course of cat flu inoculations. They should also be registered with the GCCF and have a written pedigree supplied with the registration details. If the kitten is not registered, the breeder should supply a mating certificate in addition to the pedigree, so that you can register the kitten yourself. Make sure all of these are included in the price given and that there are no “hidden” extras. Kittens should be at least 13 weeks old before they leave the breeder.
Always make an appointment with the breeder before you visit and let him/her know if you change your plans.
Ask to see where the kittens are usually kept and to see the mother and watch for signs of sickness, diarrhoea, sticky eyes or stuffy nose. Never choose a sickly, lethargic or weakling kitten out of pity. And that’s it.
Now for the good old moggy.
The majority of crossbred cats are tabbies, which is the variety closest to the cat’s ancestors among African wild cats. The striped tabby pattern is the original, but the classic blotchy tabby pattern is more common. More unusual is the spotted tabby which is being selectively bred in new pedigree lines.
Plain all-in-one colours are also common black, white, ginger (marmalade), and blue. The ginger colouring is sex-linked, being carried in the X chromosome, and marmalade males outnumber females by about two to one.
Although random-bred cats from tropical climates tend to have a somewhat sleeker look than those from cold climates, they have not acquired the extreme lines that have been introduced into pedigree lines by selective breeding.
And random breeding means that the non-pedigree cat does not have a definite appearance or easy to chronicle temperament.
Yet the character traits of the domestic shorthaired cat make it universally loved and admired. Cats are wonderful companions and enjoy being part of a family, but still retain much more independence than domestic dogs. They still love to roam and the cat is a ruthless predator of small rodents and birds. Even when well fed, most crossbred cats will persist in bringing home their kill.
The typical crossbred, if you choose carefully, is a beautiful, intelligent, playful, low-maintenance companion with an independent streak.
It will be a devoted and loving member of your household. Who could ask for more?
It is all down to choice, budget and time commitment.
Whatever, the motive must always be driven by a real desire to own a cat, a willingness to understand the animal and a readiness to spend plenty of