The Cat Fanciers’ Association (“CFA”) is an American organization that controls the largest registry of pedigreed cats in the world. Established in 1906, at the time of writing, it recognizes 41 unique breeds.
The CFA’s main purpose is two-fold. Firstly, it compiles and maintains the registry, which lists, among other things, the pedigree of each cat belonging to a pedigree breed, each recognized breed’s full description and standards of points for the recognized breeds.
Secondly, it hosts the most prestigious cat show in the world: The CFA International Cat Show at which all recognized breeds are shown.
The association also has a hand in training show judges, ensuring the widespread publication of cats’ health information and instituting cat rescue programs.
The first step is to show in the Miscellaneous Competition, where judges can become familiar with the breed and its proposed standard of points.
Once the breed has moved past this level, it is able to compete on the next: the Provisional Competition where cats belonging to the new breed are allowed to compete for Best of Breed but not to proceed to the final round.
Once a breed has worked its way through both the Miscellaneous and Provisional levels, it becomes a CFA-recognized breed and is eligible to compete for championship status.
It takes several years for new breeds to advance to championship status, and, to date, 41 unique breeds have done so, with the Bengal about to become the next breed to begin the recognition process.
There are also approximately 80 breeds that are currently unrecognized by the CFA, and hopefully these will soon start the recognition process.
Breeds from all over the world are recognized by the CFA including, from Africa, the Egyptian Mau, the Abyssinian and the Somali.
Asian recognized breeds include the Birman, the Japanese Bobtail, the Korat and the Siamese, and even the controversial Singapura is on the list.
Short-haired, long-haired and curley-coated breeds are all included, and examples are the Bombay, the Oriental and the Havana Brown (short-hairs), the Persian, the Maine Coon and the Norwegian Forest Cat (long-hairs) and several curley-coated Rexes (Cornish, Devon and Selkirk).
America is well represented in the CFA with the Balinese and the American Bobtail, Curl, Shorthair and Wirehair all recognized.
The official breeds from the United Kingdom include the British Shorthair, the Manx, the Burmilla and the Scottish Fold and those from Canada comprise the Sphynx and the Tonkinese.
Europe and Eurasia/Russia are in the mix with France’s Chartreux and the European Burmese on the one hand and Russia’s Siberian and Russian Blue and Turkey’s Angora and Van on the other.
The CFA also recognizes natural breeds like the Burmese, crossbreeds like the Colorpoint Shorthair, the Exotic, the Ocicat, the Ragdoll and the Ragamuffin and mutations like the LaPerm.
The CFA is the greatest such organization in the world, and many more breeds should be recognized in the future.