10 Cat Breeds That Originated in the United States

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With exotic, pretty names and beautiful features, many people assume that most cats are not original to the United States. It does not help matters that cats have been around far longer than the United States has even been known to mankind – and that likely means most cats come from overseas, correct? Well, not particularly true in many cases. While it is true that the Europeans are the people responsible for bringing with them a myriad of cat breeds when they relocated from Europe, some cat breeds are very original to the United States. It is thought that many originate from breeds that were already here before early settlers arrived – hey, there were animals here before there were ever people – and that many of the world’s most popular breeds came from the development of those breeds and others that were brought over from Europe. Just because a cat has a bit of European heritage does not mean it did not originate in the states, however. Some breeds, including the most popular in the world, did originate right here in our own backyards.

Their names, no matter how exotic and pretty they sound, are sometimes a bit misleading. Not all these cats are from exotic locations such as their names suggest. They’re from right here in this very country, but they were given names that might resemble their appearance or the location from which part of their ancestors arrived. Which breeds are local to the United States? We have a list of just a few of the most famous US breeds right here.

American Bobtail

It wasn’t until the 1960s that this breed was noticed. It was discovered right here in America – hence its name – and it was decided that it was likely the result of cross breeding. Its originators are thought to be a common tabby cat and a bobcat straight from the wild, but no one is entirely certain this is the truth. There is some speculation that it is related to the Japanese bobtail thanks to their looks, but it is not.

Bombay

With an exotic name like this, it does seem like it would be a foreign breed, but it is actually a domestic breed. The Bombay is the cross between a Burmese and an American Shorthair, and it’s a local cat. It is native to America thanks to its parentage, though no one is entirely certain whether or not the parents were wild or housecats.

Himalayan

It sounds like this would be a cat from Himalaya, correct? Wrong; it’s a cat that is believed to be from America. It’s thought that it is a variation and descendant of the Persian cat line. It was given its name solely because it has the coloring of a vast number of other animals that do hail from Himalaya. So while we know its ancestors are from other countries, this is a breed that was developed right here in the US.

Bengal

The exact history of these cats is largely unknown. There is some documentation of people keeping the Bengal, which looks a lot like a tiger, as pets in other countries. However, it was a hybrid breed created in a lab on a college campus under the thought that perhaps some forms of very serious illness could be treated or cured using some medical techniques that brought about this breed. And it’s still not recognized by all the major cat associations.

Balinese

It is not a cat from Bali or any part of Thailand, to be honest. It’s a cat that comes from other cats brought to the US many years ago and bred with other domestic cats. There’s where you will find the beginning of the history of the Balinese. It was given the name because of its unique coloring, though it has nothing to do with Bali as a whole.

Maine Coon

The exact history of this breed is just not known. There is some speculation that Marie Antoinette tried to flee her home to come to the Americas and loaded a ship with six of her exotic cats that did make it to the land even though it is believed she did not. It is speculated that her cats bred with other local cats in Maine and this large and lovely breed was born. We aren’t sure, but it’s a pretty story.

Munchkin

This is a breed that is thought to have been around for a while, but it wasn’t until a teacher found a pregnant cat under a vehicle in the early 1980s in Louisiana that this breed was really brought about. Half the kittens from the born litter were born with very short legs, and they were then bred to create even more of these adorable cats. It’s a genetic mutation that causes this cat to have short legs, but it’s very American to exploit that.

Exotic Shorthair

It looks exotic, but it’s not. It’s believed that the Persian and the American shorthair were bred to create this interesting and lovely little breed, but it’s very much American. It’s native to the states and it’s one of the most popular breeds of cat around thanks to its lovely shape and coloring – as well as its very unique facial expressions.

Pixie Bob

It’s a breed that was discovered and gained popularity in Washington in the 1980s and it’s been famous ever since. People love this large and beautiful cat, and they want to have it as a pet if they can find one. It’s large and it’s very beautiful, and it’s a friendly cat that does make quite a statement.

Ragdoll

A cat in the 1960s was found and her litter had some very distinct traits. The breeder, Ann Baker, continued to breed this cat – who went by Josephine – until she created a litter of cats that Baker found amazing. She called them ragdolls because they go limp when held, and the breed was sort of born from that. It’s become a very classic and much loved American breed.

Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

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