The Stories Behind Names Of Cat Breeds

Many cat breeds have fanciful and exotic sounding names, and, while some of these names are more descriptive than anything else – like the American Shorthair or the Japanese Bobtail – some are truly mysterious.


The Piawaian Kucing Malaysia: Lost In Translation

kucing cat photo
Photo by Nuraishah Bazilah binti Affandi|cc
Malaysia’s recently recognized indigenous breed may have a long and difficult-to-pronounce name that conjures up visions of mist covered temples perching on craggy hills overlooking verdant jungles, but “kucing” merely means “cat” while “Piawaian” means “standards of”.

With Ragdoll colors and Tonkinese body-types, this breed may have been recognized by the Malaysian Cat Club, but it’s not yet internationally recognized.


The Donskoy: Mother Russia’s Cat

In 1987, a sighting of a strange, hairless cat in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don in the Southern Federal District would lead to the discovery of a new breed of cats: the Donskoy.

Named after the city in which they were first found, these cats are not related to the other famous hairless breed, the Sphynx, because, in the Donskoy, hairlessness is the result of a dominant, and not a recessive, gene.

Not all Donskoys are hairless, though, and the four acceptable coat types are rubber bald, velour, flocked and brush.


The Peterbald: Mother Russia’s Cat’s Son

peterbald cat photo
Photo by NancyK!|cc

Breeders were so fascinated with the Donskoy that programs were set up to see what type of cats would be produced by crossbreeding it with the Siamese and the Oriental.

The result is the Peterbald, and its rather strange name is a combination of the name of the city in which the were first bred – St Petersburg – and the word “bald”, which obviously indicates the breed’s lack of coat.

Although the type of coat is similar to that of the Donskoy, the build more resembles that of the Oriental or modern Siamese.


The Khao Manee: Unbelievable Beauty

Anyone who’s seen a Khao Manee with its brilliant white coat and odd-colored, gold or blue gem-like eyes, will immediately understand why its name translates as White Gem.

Also known as the Diamond Cat, Gold and Silver Eye Cat and White Jewel, this incredibly rare white breed has been a part of Thai life and culture for centuries.

Originally, the only people allowed to own or breed these spectacular cats were members of the Siamese royalty, but this is no longer the case although Khao Manee kittens are extremely hard to find outside Thailand.


The Nebelung: From Page To Pet

nebelung cat photo
Photo by bernie_says|cc

This breed was started by Siegfried and Brunhilde, two semi-long-coated blue cats with looks very similar to the Russian Blue and who were named after the main characters in the epic Germanic poem, the Nibelungenlied.

Given the misty grey color of their coats, the German word for fog or mist – Nebel – was tacked onto Nibelung, and the portmanteau word Nebelung was born.

Subjected to very selective breeding programs, of which there are only a few in the world, Nebelungs are fairly rare, but they make gorgeous and shy pets.


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