|Sorry, the word "oblivious" probably sounds hostile. But it is exactly what I mean. By "breed," I don't mean that you need to know a Tonkinese from a Himalayan. Heck, even I can't recognize a lot of breeds (Singapura, anyone?). Yet so many people on Catster (mostly those on the Answers Board) seem to have at best a vague understanding of cat breeds--many people seem to think that color (for example, "calico") indicates breed.
The simplest answer to this question is that cat breeds really didn't start getting recognized until around a century ago--as opposed to dog breeds, for example. Another reason is that in the past several decades, a number of new breeds have been developed.
However, breeds are recognized and judged by breed standards, not by color (with the exception of breeds like the Abyssinian, the Russian Blue, and pointed cats) and not by personality (although judges get a bit testy if your supposedly laid-back Maine Coon is hostile). A large number of questioners do not seem to understand that. We get lots of questions to the tune of "My calico is...". Sorry, but there is no relationship between Fluffy being a calico and having tummy problems.
I also have problems with the term "mixed breed." I haven't lived in the U.S. for 30 years, but in those days, every cat in the neighborhood was...just a cat. Tabbies, black cats, whatever. Different colors, but not different breeds. Now everyone wants/expects their cat to have a "breed." Sorry to say, but most cats are just cats. There ARE mixed breeds--you can breed an American Curl with a Scottish Fold--but chances are that Fluffy is just...a cat.
I wonder if the interest in the genetic heritage of cats comes from the fact that Americans themselves are "mixed." I know that I'm English, Dutch, and German, and I'm pretty sure there's something on my father's side that is not Caucasian. We love to speculate about things like this. No wonder that we want to know what "breeds" our cats may carry in their ancestry.
However...as Freud may or may not have said, "Sometimes a pipe is just a pipe."
Now we come to the most controversial question. Everyone wants to know the genetic hertitage of their cat (even though a few photos show that it's just what we used to call an "alley cat"). I can understand that curiosity--I always suspected my late brother and sister duo to have had Siamese blood because they were so talkative, and the male had longish fur that made the vet think him part Persian (kittens can have different fathers).
BUT...if everyone is so keen on learning what kind of "breed" their cat may be, why are so many people hostile towards breeders?
If you check that fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia, you will read the saga of how Turkish Angoras (still a very rare breed) were only kept from extinction by the Turkish government. Maine Coons, beloved by people in many countries, won the first prizes at the first cat shows a century ago, but after World War II almost went extinct. Cat breeds deserve to be preserved as much as obscure fish and insects.
Yes, we all know about backyard breeders. Dead cats lying on other dead cats, mountains of feces beneath their cages. But "hobby breeders" (there's no money in this business, believe me), do not treat their cats that way. In fact, the higher you go up the food chain in breeder-land, the less likely you are to have one deign to sell you a cat. You will be required to fill out forms, have the cat desexed if it hasn't been already, and keep in touch with the breeder for the rest of the cat's life. Good breeders take their responsibilities to the point that many burn out after 10 years or so.
Catster caters to people with rescued cats. I have a rescued cat myself. As I wrote in another post, he's actually my favorite cat, and I find him more loyal and sincere than my Maine Coons. However...there will always be people who want a certain breed of cat, and if someone is going to provide these cats, then it should be a conscientious and loving breeder. In Japan, at least, I think there are more such breeders than there are breeders at puppy and kitty mills.
The questions: Why don't people understand the meaning of "breed" regarding cats? And why, if people are so fascinated by "breeds," do they dislike breeders so much?
(This is ignoring the argument that if you buy a breed cat, you automatically sign the death sentence for a moggie in a shelter. People who want a certain breed will buy it no matter what, and better they should deal with a reliable breeder than some backyard hack.)
Edited by author Wed Feb 4, '09 1:00am PST