The world’s largest cat breeds’ registry is known as the Cat Fanciers Association, and, presently, 41 different breeds are recognized by the association.
Getting a new breed qualified and recognized is a long and complex process, however, but new breeds are emerging and, eventually, competing at Championship level, all the time.
Cat registries are found all over the world, and each region, if not each country, has their own.
Local associations are usually the first to recognize new breeds arising within their areas, but, even though these breeds are locally recognized, it may take quite a while for them to gain worldwide acceptance and to qualify as a breed as far as the CFA is concerned.
The 41 breeds that are currently CFA-recognized includes breeds as diverse as the Burmilla, the Singapura, the Chartreux and the Ocicat, and, starting from the end of April 2016, the Bengal will be recognized as part of the Miscellaneous Class.
The CFA recognizes new breeds once the required conditions have been met, and new breeds can come about in one of two different ways: mutations like the Rexes (some physical change to a cat’s body has to occur for it to be called a mutation) and hybrids like the Oriental where two established breeds are combined to form something new.
Mutations can include new colors, new coat types and altered skeletal structures, like the Manx’s missing tail, and hybrids can occur both naturally in nature and as a result of a carefully planned breeding program.
Once a breed has been recognized, it is placed in one of the four groups created for classification purposes: Mutant, Natural, Established and Hybrid.
New breeds seeking eventual Championship status are first recognized for registration, and then recognized as having Provisional Status, should they comply with certain requirements including at least 100 cats of the new breed being registered with the CFA over at least 5 years and through 25 breeders.
Further requirements include having recommendations from CFA board members and being able to prove that the new breed has value within the community, and it’s only once all requirements have been met that a new Provisional breed is recognized.
The new Provisional breed must then go on to be recognized as a Championship Breed for it to complete at championship level.
Again, in order to do so, various conditions need to be fulfilled, including providing evidence that the provisional breed has been showing often – at least 25 individual cats need to have been shown in different shows in different locations – that there is an acceptable standard for the breed and that there is a list of acceptable colors the breed can show in.
Once all of these conditions have been fulfilled, the breed can compete and be eligible to take the overall championship.
The above is only the tip of the iceberg, and the process to ensure the Championship recognition of the new breed is a long and complicated one to follow.