CAT BREED IDENTIFICATION WORKSHEETS AND CAT CHARACTERISTICS
The following pages are designed to help you learn about many breeds of cats. In the back of this manual is a list of reference books and web sites. There are many other books and web sites available as well. Fill in all the spaces for each breed. The first two pages are the breeds recognized by The Cat Fancier’s Association (CFA), the largest breed association in North America. The next two pages list different breeds recognized by one or more breed associations in North America.
Your cat is one of the most intelligent and beautiful of all animals. Understanding its anatomy, temperament, and physical characteristics will help you enjoy the unique personality of your cat even more. Scientists classify the cat as a carnivorous (meat-eating) animal because of its teeth. The teeth have three functions: stabbing (killing prey), anchoring or holding prey, and cutting or tearing flesh. Cats do not have flat-crowned molars so are not able to crush or grind food.
The cat’s body has 230 bones while man has only 206. Many of the cat’s “extra” bones are in its tail. A cat’s tail can indicate its moods. Carried high, the tail shows the cat’s pride and contentment; extended straight, it tells you the cat is stalking; curled against its body says the cat is scared or worried; and thrusting from side to side warns that the cat is angry. A cat’s hind legs are longer and stronger than those in front, enabling it to leap with great skill. While most animals move their front and opposite hind legs at the same time, a cat moves its
front and hind legs on one side, then the other.
Notice how silently a cat moves. This is because of its thickly cushioned paws. The cat is digitigrade, which means it walks or runs on its toes. A cat usually has five toes in front and four in back, but some cats are polydactyl, having more than the usual number of toes. Each toe has a firmly attached hook-shaped
claw which is the cat’s main method of defense. The retractable claws allow the cat to climb, fight, and grip. However, all the claws point forward so a cat can only back down a tree after climbing it. A cat expresses pleasure or contentment by extending and retracting the claws in a pumping motion we call “kneading. “
A cat’s beautiful coat is one of its most striking features. The hairs of the cat’s coat grow from tiny pits in the skin called follicles. The coarse top coat is formed from primary or guard hairs which grow from individual follicles. The secondary hairs which form the undercoat (underfur) grow in groups from each follicle. There are two types of secondary hairs, the awn hairs which have bristly tips and the down hairs which are fine and crinkly. A special type of follicle produces the sensitive hairs called sinus hairs. These are located on the muzzle (as whiskers, also known as vibrissae), above the eyes, and on the back of the lower forelegs
(carpal hairs). The carpal hairs are particularly sensitive to touch such as when using their forelegs for grasping wriggling prey.