When it comes to the phrase “domestic cat,” some people may get confused. A domestic cat by the sheer definition of the word is supposed to be a cat that resides in a domicile—however, not all domestic cats are house cats. Domestic cats can be a purebred, mixed breed, live in a house or farm with humans, or reside in a neighbourhood as a stray or feral cat.
Millennia in the Making
Domestic cats or domesticated cats came to be thousands of years ago through selective breeding. Formerly wild cats and big cats, domestic cats were bred to have the “wild” characteristics removed from their DNA.
Artificial selection, a term coined by biologist Charles Darwin, is a process used by humans to develop new organisms with desirable characteristics. Breeders select two parents that have beneficial traits to reproduce, yielding offspring with those desired traits.
All cats today descend from those original cats in Africa, the Mediterranean, and Middle East regions. All cats may be dubbed “domestic,” without any regard for their breeding.
Mixed Breed Cats
A mixed breed cat is any cat of unknown origin with body types, coats, and/or colour pattern. The cat may have markings similar to one or another breed, but unless there is a long line of genealogy records and pedigree registration with the Cat Fancier’s Association or another organization, the cat is classified as a mixed breed. For example, no matter how much a cat may resemble a Siamese cat, in most cases, that cat would be considered a Siamese mix.
The Cat Fancier’s Association is the main registering body for pedigreed cat breeds in the United States. The organization recognizes 42 breeds like Siamese, Persian, Maine coon cat, Bengal, and so on. The International Cat Association recognizes 71 breeds from the ancient Abyssinian to newer breeds like the lykoi “werewolf” cat and the wild-looking Chausie, which was derived from a wild jungle cat. Both organizations are based in the United States, host competitions, and maintain the breed standards for purebred cats.
Infinite Variety of Domestic Cats
Domestic cats come in all sizes, shapes, coat lengths, and colour patterns. You will find all the solid colours, plus combinations of all of them—purebred or not.
Domestic cats come with many descriptive names. They also are called “house cats,” “alley cats,” “moggies” (in the U.K.), and in cat shows that allow them, these domestic, mixed breed cats are usually in a class called “Household Pets.”